Three spots are open on the Hillsborough Township Board of Education (BOE), with six candidates running for those positions.
Incumbent Judy Haas is seeking her sixth term on the BOE.
During her time on the board, Haas has been board president for two years and has held the role of vice president on three separate occasions.
She is currently the chair of the board’s Education Committee, having previously overseen the Governance, Communications and Policy committees, and has been a part of all the committees associated with the BOE during her 15 years as well.
Haas is a certified board member of the New Jersey School Board Association and has earned master board member and certified board leader qualifications from the organization.
The former president and treasurer of the Hillsborough Public Library Advisory Board has past experience as a liaison to the Garden State Coalition of Schools and Legislative Representatives and was the Hillsborough Township Administrator before her time on the BOE.
For the past eight years, Haas has worked on the Board of Directors of the Somerset County Educational Services Commission, holding the role of president during her first six years with the organization, and has spent the last two as vice president.
Haas is a 31-year resident of Hillsborough. She believes that the BOE needs experienced, dedicated, confident and caring people deciding what is in the best interest of children.
“I have absolutely no conflicts of interest. I’m in it only for the kids,” Haas said. “I have always been an independent thinker. I just think it’s really important to make decisions based on value and equity. That’s why I am running again.”
Incumbent Ann Harris, who taught for the Hillsborough Township Public Schools for 23 years, working predominantly in the elementary schools.
Harris is a 33-year resident of Hillsborough and has a doctorate in educational leadership, administration and supervision.
She has served on the Hillsborough Sustainable Steering Committee for the last 12 years. Harris is very interested in making the township as sustainable as possible and feels a way in doing that is to educate the children on the matter, so they can carry knowledge forward to their families.
During her research for her dissertation on interdisciplinary connections in schools, Harris gained the beneficial knowledge to help the school district keep on track with their curriculum.
“I feel that having that research knowledge is an asset to helping the school district keep on track with the many things they are bombarded with today as responsibilities for their curriculum,” she said.
Cindy Nurse is a first time candidate for the BOE.
The mother of two daughters who are both students in the Hillsborough Public Schools is currently a reading specialist in the nearby Bridgewater-Raritan Regional School District and has lived in the township since 2012.
Nurse has also taught in the Montgomery Township School District and has 23 years of teaching experience.
A goal for Nurse, if elected, is to improve the relationships between teachers and the administration. She feels her experience in the teaching field can help those relationships grow and in turn help children continue to get the great education they need.
“My experience as an educator and holding a grievance chair position in another school district makes me a well-rounded candidate and someone that sees all different perspectives,” Nurse said.
From seeing her children and their friends go through the Hillsborough school system, Nurse said an area she would like to work on, if elected, is providing more professional development to teachers.
Nurse feels teachers in Hillsborough are struggling with new advancements in technology and that the school district needs to focus more on providing them more professional development on the matter to incorporate into their lesson plans.
Providing safe and cost-effective transportation for students to go to school and come back home is another issue Nurse believes needs to be addressed by the school district.
Incumbent Lorraine Soisson was elected to the BOE in 2012 and has held the position of president the past three years.
The mother of two daughters moved to Hillsborough over 20 years ago and has been involved in the educational system in the community since that time.
Soisson has a PhD from the John Hopkins University of Medicine and has been advising the U.S. State Department on issues that involve infectious diseases and global health for the last 20 years.
Because of her background and expertise as an infectious disease researcher, Soisson joined the task force the Hillsborough Township Public Schools created for its school reopening plan this fall. Soisson was one of four BOE members who were a part of the 54-person restart committee that was created by the school district, working in the operations subcommittee that dealt with facilities, food services and transportation.
Hillsborough began its hybrid model on Sept. 29 and has not had any cases of COVID-19 that have originated from having teachers and students back in school for the last month.
“We have done it pretty successfully over the last few weeks and I’m gratified that we have been doing this,” Soisson said. “I’m grateful to see our kids back in school. Everyone is taking this seriously. The fact that we are now more than three weeks in and haven’t started to see any heavy transmission happening in our schools will hopefully show people that we can do this as we learn more about the virus.”
Updating the facilities in the school district was a major area that Soisson and the BOE felt needed to be addressed last year. The BOE put together a $35 million facility referendum that was passed. The first installment of the referendum was done this summer with the repaving of roofs and starting to upgrade the electrical, heating, air conditioning and ventilation units in the schools.
The next part of the referendum will require engineering assistance in replacing or adding air conditioning and heating systems for the schools.
In addition to that, air ionizers will be added for the health and safety of the students and staff. According to Soisson, that will be completed hopefully in January.
Soisson said she feel it is important that all the schools are prepared for any crisis that might occur.
Paul Marini and Benjamin Kidd are also running for the BOE.
Marini first ran for a spot on the BOE in 2019 and is the director of Compliance for Sparta Systems in Hamilton. He has been a Hillsborough resident since 2010 and is a member of the Hillsborough Parks and Recreation Commission.
Kidd is a Hillsborough resident and former student of the Hillsborough Public Schools.
They could not be reached for comment.