Cranbury residents head to the polls next week and will elect three candidates to fill the three open seats on the Cranbury Township Board of Education.
Two incumbents and one newcomer are running for the three seats. Each seat is for a full three-year term on the board.
Incumbents Pramod Chivate and Lindsay McDowell will run along with Laura Hoffman and be on the ballot for the Nov. 5 general election.
Pramod Chivate currently serves as vice president of the Cranbury Township Board of Education. He is a member of the board of education’s personnel, finance and facilities committee and policy committee. Chivate is an IT and program management executive, principal and master practitioner at North Highland, a global consulting firm.
He has a mechanical engineering degree from Southern Illinois University, a degree from the Indian Institute of Technology and a PhD in mechanical engineering from Pennsylvania State University.
Laura Hoffman is a wife and a mom of two school-aged girls who attend the Cranbury School. She grew up in New Jersey and has lived in Cranbury for nearly a decade. Hoffman has been an educator for the past 20 years and is currently a classroom teacher. She loves Cranbury and is looking forward to serving her community.
McDowell is also running for re-election. He currently is chair of the Cranbury Township Board of Education’s finance committee and a member of the facilities committee. McDowell earned an engineering degree from Vanderbilt University, a masters in engineering from Cornell University and an MBA from the College of William & Mary. He is the head of IT business partnering for finance and procurement groups at Bristol-Meyers Squibb.
Chivate and McDowell could not be reached for comment.
Why did you decide to run?
Hoffman: The Cranbury School has been a wonderful place for my daughters. They’ve had such an incredible experience there year after year and I wanted to give back to a school and community that has given so much to my family. The faculty, staff and administration have been nothing short of incredible in our time at the Cranbury School. I’m hopeful that my experience in education will be beneficial to the board and that I can contribute in a positive way.
Other than taxes, what is the most pressing challenge for the school board? How would you address the challenge as a board member?
Hoffman: I think the BoE does an excellent job of presenting concerns and challenges to the community in a solution oriented manner. I think all schools face the challenge of meeting the students’ needs, while also meeting state requirements, keeping students safe and keeping open lines of communication between school administrators, board members and the community. I hope that transparency continues to be maintained since I believe we all have the same goal – serving students in the best possible way.
What in your experience or background makes you able to face the challenges and issues of the school board?
Hoffman: As an educator for the past 20 years, I’ve worked in a lot of schools and districts (large, small, private, public…) and I have direct classroom experience to draw upon. I hope that my experience building curriculum, working with parents and students, and communicating effectively across populations will help me to best serve the school board. I have extensive curriculum design and development experience and I hope to leverage that to help the board maintain its excellence in classroom teaching and learning. Working as an educator also means I am up to date on current trends in education allowing me to address needs in real time.
Which of the three district goals for the 2019-20 school year, would be your top priority as a board member?
Hoffman: I would like to personally focus my attention on continuing to study district assessment practices including the variety and quality of teacher feedback, creativity and consistency, and improving student self-assessment/self-regulation skills to advance student efficacy. I personally believe that self reflection leads to best practices. Working with the board members and school administrators, it is critical that assessment policies and procedures best serve the students in the schools, in both the short and long term.