Four candidates seek three seats on South Brunswick school board

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Joseph Scaletti
  2 / 4 
Joyce Mehta
  3 / 4 
Azra Baig
  4 / 4 
Ray Kuehner
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  1 / 4 
Joseph Scaletti
  2 / 4 
Joyce Mehta
  3 / 4 
Azra Baig
  4 / 4 
Ray Kuehner

SOUTH BRUNSWICK – Two incumbents and two newcomers will vie for three, three-year terms on the South Brunswick Board of Education.

Azra Baig and Joyce Mehta are hoping to retain their seats, while Ray Kuehner and Joseph Scaletti will battle for their seats, and of current board President Harry Delgado, who is not seeking re-election.

Polls will be open on Election Day, Nov. 5.

Azra Baig

Resident: For 18 years

Children: Two daughters who attended Cambridge Elementary School, Crossroads South Middle School and are alumnae of South Brunswick High School; older daughter is employed after graduating from Rutgers University-Newark and younger daughter is a junior at Rutgers University-New Brunswick. 

Occupation: Registered nurse; employed by the N.J. Department of Health in the Office of the Commissioner as a project specialist. 

Certifications: Holds 33 New Jersey School Boards Association Academy Credits.

Public office: Two-term member of South Brunswick School Board; member of several South Brunswick Township commissions appointed by the South Brunswick mayor and council members; commissioner on the South Brunswick Human Relations Commission since 2013/current chairwoman; commissioner on the South Brunswick Municipal Alliance Commission since 2013; has served on the South Brunswick Commission on Women as a school board liaison since 2014; from 2013-16 served on the South Brunswick Township’s  Volunteer Nurse Corps.   

Community service: Participates on the advisory board for several organizations including Inspiring South Asian American Women; panelist for the Center for American Woman and Politics; member of the New Jersey South Asian-American Democratic Caucus (Middlesex County director), American Muslims for Democracy and the New Jersey Muslim Voter Project; coach for Girls on the Run; member of the Islamic Society of Central Jersey; volunteer at the Trenton Area Soup Kitchen

“The safety and security of the all students and staff in our schools is a top priority and the district has been working very closely with the South Brunswick Police Department to help ensure this. I will continue to support efforts to work together to enhance safety and security and look for ways to continue to evaluate any improvements to better safeguard our students and staff. 

“Wellness is another priority initiative that I would like to focus on, especially since I have been a school nurse and have seen first-hand the mental and physical stress students and staff experience. As part of the Strategic Plan, the district’s plan is to prioritize social, emotional and physical well-being to ensure every student and staff member is self-aware and resilient. The board, myself included, has supported the creation of a Social Emotional Learning (SEL) District Committee to look at the best ways to support the implementation of SEL. The district’s goal is to implement a SEL curriculum to build and sustain a district culture that promotes and prioritizes wellness.

“As the Policy chair of the school board, I plan to support the process of updating the district’s vaping and drug use policies and will continue to look for ways to educate and prevent any type of substance abuse. 

“Furthermore, the district has launched a health platform for staff called Virgin Pulse where staff can engage in self-directed healthy practices which I look forward to hearing about positive results,” she said.

 

 

Ray Kuehner

Resident: For 31 years

Children: Two sons graduated from South Brunswick school system

Occupation: Transportation supervisor and energy manager for North Brunswick Township Public Schools.

Certifications: Certified facilitator for Rutgers University’s School Supervisors certification program.

Community Involvement: Past president of the State Transportation Supervisors Association; volunteer at South Brunswick High School and Crossroads Middle Schools; past cubmaster and committee chairman for Pack 108 in Monmouth Junction; past scoutmaster for Troop 10 in Monmouth Junction; coach for PAL and Department of Recreation FLAG football, t-ball and baseball; member of St. Cecilia’s Knights of Columbus Council 7046 in Monmouth Junction / past grand knight and current trustee; member Immaculate Conception 4th Degree Color Corp.; past member Dayton/Deans, Upper Elementary School, Crossroads and South Brunswick High School PTAs; past member of St. Cecilia’s Parish Council.

“My main priority would be to assure that we continue providing our students the best quality resources and materials they need to be successful in the classroom. In addition I feel that we must provide our students opportunities to further develop themselves with programs in social awareness, music, athletics and performing arts. We must be as fiscally efficient as possible in providing these programs.

“I possess knowledge and experience in several areas that I feel would be an asset to the district. I am completely committed to provide the leadership this position requires to assure our township continues to provide the best quality, most rounded education possible to our students and to do so while being fiscally responsible to the taxpayers.”

 

Joyce Mehta

Resident: For 14 years

Children: Two daughters, one in college and one in ninth grade

Occupation: Lawyer; in the United Kingdom

Public service: South Brunswick Board of Education member since 2017; Curriculum/Academic Policy, Budget, Equity, Strategic Planning, Homework, South Brunswick High School Mental Health committees; Board of Education PTO liaison to Indian Fields Elementary School; Board of Education PTO liaison to Crossroads Middle School South

Community service: Recording secretary for the South Brunswick Commission On Women; commissioner for the South Brunswick Municipal Alliance; member and zone chair of the South Brunswick Lions Club; NJCEDV LGBT task force member; NJCEDV Women of Color task force member; volunteer committee member for National Night Out; active PTO member; school chaperone; presently sits on the N.J. Coalition To End Domestic Violence LGBT Task Force & the Women Of Task Force

“A key focus is to identify the causes of stress and mental health issues and to address ways to combat drugs, vaping, anxiety, depression and stress-related illnesses. We can continue to develop key prevention and early intervention strategies ensuring more children receive appropriate care. We can improve collaboration and coordination between mental health team specialists and the parent community to remove the stigma surrounding mental health, encourage open conversations, and to find solutions together.
“I want to empower parents, teachers and children so as to create a ‘safe to say; environment where voices are heard and contributions recognized. Equity in education means placing systems so every child has an equal opportunity for success, to ensure that all students have access to a high quality education to meet their educational needs. By opening our doors of communication and allowing inclusion, respecting honest feedback, encouraging transparency, and valuing every opinion, and through thought leadership, our
community can enable South Brunswick to become eminent and a role model to other districts by becoming exceptional through innovative solution that foster productive change. To work in unity towards the same goal: making our district the best.
“To foster a safe, secure and productive school climate to improve student achievement and academic success, we can invest in cost effective vestibules situated outside our schools, empower teachers to take action by devices used to lock down each classroom, to improve their ability to notify law enforcement officials and first responders quickly and efficiently. This approach also requires a greater rapport between the student and teacher, to safely reporting concerns and feel a part of the safety team – to promote the physical, mental and emotional safety of each student, teacher and staff member.

 

 

 

Joseph Scaletti

Resident: For 20 years

Children: Two daughters, both of whom went through the South Brunswick school system. Oldest is in college, youngest is a senior at South Brunswick High School.

Occupation: Lifelong union carpenter; currently a delegate for Local 254 Keystone Mountain Lakes Region.

Certifications: Certified shop steward, OSHA 30 certified, graduate of Rutgers Union Leadership Academy.

Community service: Member of the Knights of Columbus and a Freemason at Mount Zion Lodge 135; current Middlesex chairman for Volunteer Organizing Committee Local 254; has been a member of the South Brunswick Athletic Association for 10 years and coached South Brunswick travel softball for the past decade; in the past, coached American Legion baseball in Hopewell and Pop Warner football in Ewing.

“Put the focus back on the kids: whether it is through classes, clubs, athletics or extra-curricular activities, I want each child in South Brunswick to feel safe, secure and comfortable in our schools. As our township is rated as one of the leading public school districts for academics, I want us to also be a leader in helping and protecting our children. My plan to improve the South Brunswick School District includes combating mental health problems and substance abuse by providing sufficient counseling and promoting an inclusive community environment. It also calls for more programs for special needs students, so that all have the same opportunity to succeed in our schools. Finally, my plan to put the focus back on the kids includes limiting standardized testing, such as PARCC, to eliminate unnecessary burdens from the lives of our children. Through this plan, I pledge to refocus our school district towards the well-being of our students and making sure everyone feels at home.

“Give kids a hand up, not a hand out: When I was 15 years old, I moved to South Brunswick with my father. When I first arrived at the high school, my guidance counselor, the football coach, the athletic director, and two of my classmates were there to greet me. As someone who could have been left behind, but instead was welcomed with open arms, I want to extend my experience and ensure every child in the township gets a hand up, not a hand out. My goal as a member of the South Brunswick Board of Education will be to ensure that every child has an equal opportunity to succeed and reach their potential regardless of their background or socioeconomic status. Not only does giving kids a hand up mean providing the opportunity for higher education, but the opportunity to attend vocational and technical schools, or learning a trade.

“Honesty: The central theme of my campaign is honesty. Everyone who knows me, knows that I am a man of my word. As the father of two daughters who have advanced through the South Brunswick School District, I will never lose sight of my goal for running for the Board of Education: to work for every child and family in South Brunswick and to fight for the improvement of our children’s well-being. My other main goal as a member of the Board of Education will be to honestly communicate with township residents regarding school issues and board votes. If I am not aware of an issue or problem affecting your children or the school district, I encourage you to explain it to me and share your opinion. And if I tell you I can do something, I will do it.”