Seven candidates bid for seats on Marlboro school board

MARLBORO – Three three-year terms on the Marlboro K-8 School District Board of Education will be on the Nov. 7 election ballot. Polls will be open from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m.

The seven residents seeking the seats are Debbie Mattos, Craig Marshall, Paul Fins, Anisha Gizersky, Vlad Goldfarb, Eric Salant and Susan Shrem.

Mattos and Marshall are incumbents seeking re-election. Fins did not respond to a request for comment.

Gizersky said she is running because “I have two children in the Marlboro Middle School and I believe I have a unique technology-based resume that would be an important addition to the process. Planning for the future of our education system is the key for the success of our children.”

Goldfarb said he decided to run “because I am a proud and recent graduate of Marlboro’s K-8 school system. As a result, I believe I have a unique and fresh perspective on what students in Marlboro need to not only be successful at their current level of schooling, but to be prepared in each level to follow.

“It is vital for the board to be well rounded and represent all residents so that it can make the best decisions on behalf of not only our students and teachers, but the taxpayers of Marlboro as well. In this respect, my firsthand knowledge of our K-8 school system, coupled with my many years of volunteer work and interaction with the Marlboro community, would allow me to make the most informed decisions that best represent our community as a whole,” Goldfarb said.

Mattos has served on the board for five years and said, “During my tenure, I have served on numerous board committees focusing on our district’s advancement, championed respectful interactions, voted with fiscal responsibility, valued transparent relationships with all stakeholders, and encouraged intellectual dialogue respecting all perspectives seeking the betterment of our district.

“I have weathered many educational changes: Common Core, the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) exam and the implementation of our 1:1 Chromebook initiative. This year’s paramount accomplishment is our implementation of full-day kindergarten.

“My years of service have been dedicated to ensure our children receive the very best educational experience. Serving as a beacon district, we continue to outperform our sending schools to the Freehold Regional High School District (FRHSD) and acquire more acceptances than any sending district to the Monmouth County vocational schools and the FRHSD learning centers. I am most proud of our district with our variety of services and our unwavering belief in the individual learner,” Mattos said.

Marshall said, “It is a privilege to serve the children and taxpayers as a board member. My accomplishments include the relentless challenge to our administration and board leadership to balance the educational needs of our children in a fiscally responsible manner by examining line item budget expenses and voting against salary increases for administrative employees.

“I am a minority voice of transparency for the fiscally responsible expenditure of tax dollars by questioning the status quo and challenging some board members for their unwillingness to accept the results of taxpayer sentiment. Further, I voted against the increased budget as we need to curb raising taxes and better define wants vs. needs for the benefit of our children.

“I supported a much-needed full-day kindergarten program while voting against a special election for a third attempt at a referendum that offered no changes as it was wasteful spending and a direct attempt to limit voter turnout,” Marshall said.

Salant said his interest in the board began with the implementation of the PARCC exam and the board’s reaction to the shooting at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., in 2012.

“Due to the PARCC exam, there was suddenly an excessive emphasis in the school curriculum on preparing our students to take this exam. In tandem with the PARCC requirements, the district adopted policies emphasizing frequent testing and dictating the pace and manner in which our children were taught.

“The evaluations of our teachers and children were too heavily based upon test results. Kids were overburdened and stressed out, and teachers were teaching test taking to the exclusion of actual education. This created a tremendous amount of anxiety for my two daughters … Many children were hating school.

“The community, especially the parents of school-age children, banded together and effected change. While the superintendent handles curriculum, the board is responsible for letting the superintendent know the priorities of the residents of Marlboro.

“Immediately following the Sandy Hook incident, the board implemented a construction program which was purportedly to make our schools secure. These projects were fraught with delays and, in my opinion, poor planning. It resulted in many of our children walking through construction sites for almost the entire school year … and (they) were significantly more exposed and less secure than they were before the construction began.

“Having worked for a major international construction company, I was deeply troubled by the way these projects appeared to be managed. In addition to creating a false sense of security, this was a waste of money that could have been used for more thoughtful security improvements and for repairs which would have addressed a number of issues that were recently included in the failed referendum,” Salant said.

Shrem said she decided to run for the board “to make sure our children are getting the best possible education and our schools are running efficiently. Our family decided to live in Marlboro primarily because of the school system and I want to have an active role in my children’s education and a positive influence on our community. I believe a strong school system benefits all our residents in Marlboro.”

Looking forward, if elected, Gizersky said, “I plan on focusing on new ways to incorporate ‘right’ technology to our education system. I want to introduce robotics, coding and project-based learning as this is the future for our children. I believe my expertise in creating and managing information technology and cybersecurity could serve as important assets to the board. I can bring a forward-thinking skill-set to the position that can promote the best ideas for our children and our community. We need someone on the board who truly understands technology and can anticipate the trends of the future.”

Goldfarb said, “If elected, my goals would be to return transparency and accountability to the board and truly listen to the community. As a member of the board, I will work with elected officials to return the $233,000 in state funding that our school system lost this year and work to acquire further aid from the state, instead of reaching into the taxpayers’ pocket.

“Furthermore, I will work to find fiscally responsible solutions that will allow our schools to free up funds for more efficient after-school busing, as well as to maintain language and arts education. I was able to take advantage of these programs (as a student) and they made me a more well-rounded and developed student. I will commit to finding alternatives that will allow us to transition away from over-testing without sacrificing state funding,” Goldfarb said.

If elected, Mattos said, “One immediate goal I have is to address our priority infrastructure projects that must be met in the most fiscally responsible manner. I am currently working with administration on an energy audit, aiming to save the district substantial monies while looking into different strategies for capital projects and lowering operating expenses.

“Another goal is to continuously improve the quality of education through effective communication, respectful dialogue and honest interactions. My perpetual goal as a board member is to be thoughtful, fiscally prudent and available for discussion.

“I would also like to create additional community liaisons to fully respect Marlboro taxpayers of all ages. If re-elected, I look forward to being part of the solution by keeping our focus on fiscal responsibility, educational advancement and our children,” Mattos said.

Marshall said his goals as a board member “will include efforts to rebuild trust and confidence in the board by our stakeholders which has grossly diminished, in part, due to a lack of transparency regarding financial decisions by the board and members of administration. I will continue to advocate for a non-threatening environment at board meetings by encouraging dialogue with the public because their input is valuable and needs to be heard.

“I will stress the need for the development and implementation of a multi-year fiscally responsible plan using independent professionals that prioritizes projects and uses all available state resources to assess and address current and future infrastructure needs.

“Further, I will continue to advocate for upholding all contracts in force and not succumb to the pressure of those with personal interest and benefit from early renegotiation. My decisions are mindful of all students, staff and taxpayers in creating a more nurturing educational environment, including extracurricular activities that address the needs of all children,” Marshall said.

Salant said if he is elected, “I will try to listen and represent what the town wants from its board. We need to educate our kids, letting the teachers teach, and using our resources in a manner that does the most with what we have. … One of the main reasons my wife and I moved to Marlboro was for the schools.

“My mother and mother-in-law were both teachers in the New York City public school system and I recognize the quality of our teachers. I think my kids are getting a great education and if elected, I will do what I can to allow our professionals to do what they do best. I hope I can help restore trust between the board and the township, and I will try to be a voice for all of the people of Marlboro,” Salant said.

Shrem said if she wins a seat on the board, her focus “will be on providing the children of Marlboro the best education possible by drawing upon my background in managing budgets, project management, marketing strategy skills and contract negotiations to make the best possible decisions for our kids and our town. I strongly believe we can make the right choices for our kids while remaining fiscally responsible.”