UPPER FREEHOLD – Four candidates are seeking three available three-year terms on the Upper Freehold Regional School District Board of Education in the Nov. 6 election.
Of the board’s nine members, seven are residents and representatives of Upper Freehold Township and two are residents and representatives of Allentown. This year, all three seats on the ballot are for representatives from Upper Freehold Township.
The terms of board members Michele Anthony, Howard Krieger and Rick Smith will end in December. The candidates seeking the terms are Anthony, Krieger, Smith and Brett Williams.
Anthony worked as an actuarial assistant and underwriter at MetLife and New York Life Insurance in New York and Texas before retiring. A resident of Upper Freehold for 18 years, she joined the board in 2016. Two of her children have graduated from the district and her youngest child is currently a student at Allentown High School in the district.
“I am seeking re-election because I want to give back to the school that served my children so well,” Anthony said. “Although I am thoroughly pleased with the great education and wonderful environment the district has provided my children, I believe we should always strive to be better.
“There are always opportunities for improvement,” she said. “Some examples include strengthening the relationship between the district and the community, continually evaluating the curriculum to ensure we are exceeding our responsibilities to educate our great children, and providing them a culture of growth and safety.
“My background and skills have complemented the board in several ways. I have used my analytical skills during negotiations and budgeting exercises. I am detail oriented and thoroughly research all issues. Most importantly, I am level headed, impartial and make decisions based on knowledge and research,” Anthony said.
If re-elected, Anthony said areas of focus for her will be seeing the district’s upcoming referendum passed and seeing the project through to its completion, collaborating with community members on a new five-year strategic plan that will begin in January, and maximizing the district’s potential while remaining fiscally responsible.
Krieger worked for Pathmark as a district manager and the director of human relations and also owned three Friendly’s restaurants before retiring. He has lived in Upper Freehold for 28 years and joined the board in 2003. Krieger also serves as a member of the executive committee of the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association.
“I am seeking re-election to continue to work on my goals for our school district,” Krieger said. “I have a strong background in labor relations, which is helpful with contract negotiations, and my background in finance and business, which is helpful in keeping costs and taxes down.”
If re-elected, Krieger said areas of focus for him will be conducting a search for a new superintendent of schools following the recent retirement of Richard Fitzpatrick; holding down costs so the district will stay within the 2 percent cap; improving relations with the Millstone Township K-8 School District, which sends students to Allentown High School through a send-receive relationship, to work together on shared services and keep costs down; and helping to develop a new five-year strategic plan.
Smith, who is currently serving as the board’s vice president, is an electrical engineer and has spent his entire career in the emerging technology sector. A resident of Upper Freehold for 20 years whose two children graduated from the district, he joined the board in 2013 and has served as vice president since 2015.
“My family has loved this area, even long before we moved here, and has benefited greatly from the strong sense of community and the educational programs the schools provide,” Smith said. “I feel that by serving on the board, I can give a little something back to help make things better for the kids and the taxpayers.
“During my tenure on the board, I have help to promote the use of technology in the schools to prepare students for the challenges of life in the modern workplace,” he said. “We have also worked hard to simplify the way parents and the public can find information on school activities through updates to our website and the digital backpack we provide for the students to minimize the amount of printing we are doing in the district.
“I am also a big supporter of the STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, mathematics) program at the school that provides students a great foundation in science, technology and the arts.”
If re-elected, Smith said areas of focus for him will be continuing to control costs in the district to make sure residents get the best use of their tax dollars, enhancing school security and finding ways of keeping students safe, and continuing to update educational programs to keep pace with the changing needs of college and society.
Williams works for an institutional commercial real estate investment company and has served on the Allentown Redbird Baseball and Softball board for eight years, serving as treasurer for the past six years. He has lived in Upper Freehold for 14 years.
“This year, I have a child in each of the three schools in our district,” Williams said. “I am excited to bring a fresh perspective and a new voice to the board. I have spent 16 years in the financial services industry and my finance background and attention to detail will lead to a positive contribution.”
If elected, Williams said areas of focus for him will be seeking balance between critical needs to infrastructure and protecting valuable school programs, promoting and encouraging transparency and communication while capitalizing on local community expertise, and continuing to take proactive measures to ensure the safety of all students.