With three seats available on the East Windsor Regional School District Board of Education, only two candidates are vying to fill a three-year seat set aside for an East Windsor resident in the Nov. 3 general election.
No one has filed to run for a one-year unexpired term for an East Windsor representative, nor for a three-year term on the school board set aside for a Hightstown Borough representative.
Seven of the nine seats on the school board are set aside for East Windsor residents and two are earmarked for Hightstown residents. Three seats on the school board become available every year.
Incumbent school board member Jeanne Bourjolly is being challenged for re-election by Jagruti Patel for a three-year term on the school board, representing East Windsor.
Bourjolly, who has lived in East Windsor since 2016, was appointed top fill a vacant seat on the school board in January. She is seeking election to a full three-year term.
Bourjolly has one child, who attends the Walter C. Black Elementary School. She works for the New Jersey Department of the Treasury.
Asked about the top three issues facing the East Windsor Regional School District, Bourjolly said it is about communication, eighth grade mathematics and the STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) curriculum.
On the issue of communication, Bourjolly said the district needs to be more transparent.
“Better communication in regards to relaying information and listening with open ears will help strengthen the relationship between the school district, teachers, students and the community,” Bourjolly said.
Improving the eighth grade mathematics curriculum is essential, Bourjolly said. Students deserve to continue to excel, and not to plateau in math once they reach eighth grade.
Finally, the elementary and middle school curricula need to be more STEM-oriented, Bourjolly said. Hightstown High School is on the right path, but the STEM curriculum needs to be improved in the lower grades.
Patel, who is also vying for the three-year seat on the school board, has lived in East Windsor since 2001. Patel has one child who attends the Grace Rogers Elementary School, and another child who is a freshman at Hightstown High School.
Patel has worked for the U.S. Department of the Treasury as an auditor for 25 years.
“I am running for the school board because the pandemic brought to light many big issues about how students learn and how they have been engaged in the remote learning process. I want to be part of the board in order to address the current issues,” Patel said.
“I can also share new ideas, promote diversity and recommend ways to learn globally through technology, promote interaction with teachers and students, and offer extra curriculum to enhance a new way of learning through artificial intelligence, which is the new way of the future,” Patel said.
Patel said the biggest issue facing the school district is the COVID-19 pandemic – teaching and learning in the virtual world. Adequate training needs to be provided to teachers, and technology devices need to be provided to students and staff so they can learn remotely.
A second and related issue is the lack of equal access for students, Patel said. All students should have the appropriate resources to be successful. Patel suggested renovating the schools to provide high tech teaching rooms and labs for students.
The third issue facing the school district is meeting the needs of the district’s diverse population.
“We have to ensure that all students are performing to their highest potential and that they are given the proper supports to be successful,” Patel said.