FREEHOLD – One incumbent and two newcomers are running unopposed for three three-year terms on the Freehold Borough K-8 School District Board of Education in the 2021 general election.
The current terms of Paul Jensen, Jamie Corbett and Ron Reich will end in December. Corbett and Reich are not seeking re-election to the board.
The candidates seeking the terms are Jensen, Carrie Conger and Marin De Leon.
The 2021 general election is being conducted with vote-by-mail ballots, with in-person early voting later this month and with in-person voting on Election Day, Nov. 2
Conger is a licensed social worker and an area director for a community service provider which offers residential and day habilitation services to adults who have intellectual and developmental disabilities. She has lived in Freehold Borough for two years.
“I want to give back to the community I have quickly grown to love,” Conger said. “As someone who went through public education, I believe in the quality of a public education and want to see it continue for current and future students.
“As a social worker, I want to ensure different groups within our community have a voice in making our educational system the very best it can be and I can serve to address the concerns and interests of educators, parents and students.
“I can often tell how successful an individual will be able to transition into adulthood based upon the education they received during their childhood,” she said. “I would like to take this knowledge to help not only those with disabilities, but all students who live in the borough.”
If elected, Conger said her areas of focus will include working with students who live at or below the poverty line to ensure they complete their education, receive needed services and supports to be successful; ensuring that special education services are student-centered and meet a child’s social-emotional needs; and working to cultivate diversity, equity and inclusion in the educational environment.
De Leon is a licensed social worker who is currently the director of training for Shine Early Learning, a national childhood education company. From 2015-20, she was the director of family engagement and health at Acelero Learning. She has been a resident of Freehold Borough for four years.
“My son is a second-grader at the Freehold Learning Center and my husband is a paraprofessional in the Park Avenue Elementary School,” De Leon said. “I have been actively engaged in the school district as a parent for the past four years and am eager to contribute even more to the leadership and oversight of our school community.
“The coronavirus pandemic has created unique challenges for our school district and I feel it is important to have a board comprised of current parents and stakeholders, whenever possible.
“I feel my background as a social worker and past six years working in the
early childhood education sector will be an asset to the board,” she said. “My work experiences with immigrant communities and personal experiences as a parent of a bilingual child in our school district will inform my priorities on the board, if elected.”
If elected, De Leon said her areas of focus will include joining other board members in pursuing the funding owed to Freehold Borough under the state’s formula; advocating for a family engagement strategy that includes welcoming school environments and an increase in Spanish interpretation and translation; and supporting culturally relevant teaching that includes ensuring books and materials in classrooms reflect the diversity of students.
Jensen, who is serving as the school board president in 2021, has been a member of the board for six years and has resided in Freehold Borough since 2011. He is the associate executive director of operations at the Trenton Area Soup Kitchen.
“We have just appointed a new superintendent of schools (Joseph Howe) as of Sept. 1 and I want to make sure he has the support of the board as we continue to navigate these difficult times,” Jensen said. “We also have not finished our goal of 100% state aid funding. We are on our way to 100%, but we are not there yet.
“This was one of my reasons for getting involved six years ago and I would like to see this all the way to the end, where we can say Freehold Borough is now receiving 100% of the state aid it is due,” he said.
If re-elected, Jensen said his areas of focus will include supporting the acceleration of learning to help students resume a normal course of instruction after the coronavirus pandemic disrupted learning; strategic planning; and bringing Freehold Borough the school funding it is owed under the state’s formula.