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Four residents seeking seats on Colts Neck Board of Education

COLTS NECK – Four residents are running for three three-year terms on the Colts Neck K-8 School District Board of Education in the Nov. 6 election.

The candidates are incumbents Kevin O’Connor and Kimberly Raymond, and newcomers Marci Klein and Richard Klein. A Richard Klein and a Marci Klein live at the same address in Colts Neck. Marci Klein and Richard Klein did not respond to a request for comment.

O’Connor has lived in Colts Neck for 10 years. He has three children in the district and one child who attends preschool. He is a product manager at IBM. O’Connor has coached soccer, baseball, basketball and softball since 2012 through the Colts Neck Sports Foundation. He has served on the school board since 2015.

“The safety and security of our children, staff and administrators on campus remains one of the primary responsibilities of every school district,” O’Connor said. “While I have been on the board, we have made improvements to all three of our buildings to improve the security for everyone.

“We built security vestibules and have added Class III special law enforcement officers (recently retired police officers) to each of our campuses during the school day. My hope and goal is to embed these resources into the school community. We will continue to review how we can provide a safer and more secure environment for the children and staff. I will continue the partnership we have with the township and the Colts Neck Police Department to make improvements and changes based on feedback from the community,” O’Connor said.

“There is no denying we are a community of abundance: we have outstanding teachers and staff, parents who are highly engaged, great resources and students who are excited to learn. Yet not all of our facilities accurately reflect these facts. I will continue to focus efforts to evaluate, maintain and enhance the environment we provide to everyone in our district … efforts which can and will directly impact the success of our students. I will continue to drive conversations and the direction of the board to make the necessary investments in our buildings.

“Access to technology and teachers with technical acumen remains a critical need for our young learners. Working in the technology sector for 20 years, I have seen firsthand the necessary skills and aptitudes that are necessary to compete and succeed in this new digital and connected economy. It is critical to have all of our students get exposure to these new opportunities to prepare for the jobs of tomorrow.

“With contributions from the PTO and investments in teachers and staff, we have introduced the Innovation Lab and STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) experiences at all three schools to expose our children to these concepts. There are many partnerships and programs we can use to expose our children to this new world from the initiatives. I will work with the board and the community to continue to expand these capabilities,” O’Connor said.

Raymond has lived in Colts Neck since 2006. She is the mother of four children, one is in college, one attends Colts Neck High School, one attends the Cedar Drive Middle School and the youngest attends the Conover Road Primary School. Raymond is a practicing physician.

Raymond was a founding member of the Wellness Committee, which she said was instrumental in overhauling school menus and revamping health and wellness offerings in the district.

She has served as a volunteer presenter of the “Tar Wars” anti-tobacco program to students at the Conover Road Elementary School prior to serving on the school board. She has been an active member of the Colts Neck PTO. Raymond has served on the board since 2011 and has served as its president for the past three years.

“During my time on the board we have accomplished amazing things and have raised the level of challenge and engagement for students at all levels by adding dedicated science teachers and labs and Project Lead the Way STEM program with Robotics and Design and Modeling for all middle school students.

“Recently added Innovation Labs at all schools serve as STEM ‘Maker Spaces’ for exploring, building and engineering. Tower Gardens were added to allow our students to grow, harvest and eat their own produce. Enrichment programs and coaches were added in K-5 for our highest learners and an accelerated math pathway resulting in the completion of geometry by eighth grade is now in its first full year after several transition years,” she said.

“We developed our tuition-based pre-kindergarten program that not only fully used what was once available space in the Conover Road Primary School, but allows our youngest learners to experience all of the related arts offered at the primary school. We instituted full-day tuition-free kindergarten.

“In addition, we withdrew from the National School Lunch Program to allow greater flexibility with offering healthier menu choices. A mindfulness teacher and program was added to help our students and staff become less stressed and more mindful.

“Moving forward, I am excited about the addition of a small-scale greenhouse project at the Cedar Drive Middle School, continuing to explore ways to accomplish essential facilities improvements and upgrades, and taking our school wellness to the next level by continuing to revamp lunchtime offerings and health and wellness education,” Raymond said.
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