BORDENTOWN – Five candidates are running for the three, three-year term open seats on the Bordentown Regional School District in the November general election.
Each open seat on the Board of Education (BOE) is part of the Bordentown Township section of the board. No Bordentown City or Fieldsboro seats are up for election this year.
BOE member Erika Worthy will not be running for re-election.
Stephen Heberling, who has been a BOE member since 2013, is one of two current board members running for re-election.
Heberling, who is an insurance agent by day and owns R.H. Aaronson and Son Inc. in Bordentown City, has been a township resident for 50 years and was a student in the school district while growing up.
Both his daughter and son are Bordentown Regional High School (BRHS) graduates.
During his time on the BOE, Heberling has held the positions of both vice president and president. Heberling was part of the search committee to help hire both former Superintendent of Schools Dr. Edward Forsthoffer in 2014 and current superintendent Dr. Trudy Atkins last year.
Both hires have been proud moments for Heberling on the BOE, he said.
“Both of them were great hires and have stabilized the school district,” Heberling said of Frosthoffer and Atkins. “They both have great leadership skills and that makes a huge difference.”
Heberling is currently the longest tenured board member on the BOE and believes his stability and experience will offer a lot to the board as it tackles different issues going forward the next three years.
One area of question that Heberling feels his experience and attributes will help the BOE is when the COVID-19 funding for school districts in New Jersey ends in two years.
He said having experience with contract negotiations for school funding over the years is an important factor that makes him a good candidate for re-election.
“I have helped negotiate all finance deals the last nine years (for the school district),” Heberling adds.
As part of his campaign for re-election, Heberling says he will also make it a note to work with the school district to find more ways to offer tech-education classes for students who do not plan on going to college and will enter the workforce after graduating high school.
Larry Braasch, who has been a Bordentown resident since 2012, is a current board member. He was voted in by the BOE earlier this year to fill in for an unexpired term.
Since being voted onto the BOE, Braasch says he’s enjoyed being part of the board and trying to help ensure that kids in Bordentown are getting the best educational experience they can get.
“It was very comforting that the board believed in me and had confidence (voting me on the board),” Braasch said. “I think our schools are very important and you need great leadership on the school board to help sort out any issues.”
Braasch works for the State of New Jersey as deputy director of the Division of Family Development, and is responsible for the state’s food and economic assistance programs. He is also a licensed clinical social worker.
Both of Braasch’s children are graduates of BRHS.
Becoming more involved in the Bordentown area became a passion for Braasch, following the death of his wife, Yvonne, to colon cancer in September 2020.
Braasch said the Bordentown community was very supportive of him and his family during and after his wife’s battle with cancer and wanted to make himself “available” to help out the community in any way he could.
He feels his skills and experience working with the state provides him the tools to be a great BOE member and help out the children of the Bordentown community with their education
“My day-to-day responsibilities working in the state’s food and economic assistance programs focus on helping out people in need out there. I think that can translate to the school and helping provide great education for the kids,” he said.
One important item that Braasch would like to make improvements on as a BOE member is the school district’s curriculum and making sure it is up to date with the state-wide learning standards.
Braasch believes that changes and revisions to a school district’s curriculum should be made every four to six years.
“The district has done well adjusting to doing better for our kids, but there have been some shortcomings,” he adds.
Laura Papp, Richard Shenowski and Joann Holman are three newcomers who are running for a board seat.
Papp is a graduate of BRHS and has lived in Bordentown for almost 30 years. She has been involved in various school programs and the Parent Teacher Association since her son, Trevor, began his time in the school district in 2010.
One of those ventures for Papp was helping create the Class of 2023 Booster Club when her son entered high school to help the class raise funds for various activities during their time at BRHS.
Papp also has experience working with school officials. Since Atkins became superintendent last year, Papp has worked directly with her to make sure all of the policies and communication information are up to date on the school district’s website.
“There needs to be a more pointed effort in communication (in the school district),” Papp said. “Having outdated and not accurate information is not professional. I would like to update the website. The parents rely on it.”
Papp has experience working with the BOE too as a volunteer on various issues, she said
“I think I’m in a unique position as an active parent and active volunteer of the board that gives me the qualities for this position,” Papp said. “I have a great relationship with Dr. Atkins. I feel my communication, auditing and payroll skills give me a great background to be a BOE member.”
Papp has been an accounting and human resource manager at Princeton Tec for 26 years.
Shenowski has been a resident of the township for 15 years. He began being an active parent at Peter Muschal Elementary School when his daughter started kindergarten at the school last year.
Shenowski said it was last spring after attending most of the BOE meetings that he decided to run for a spot on the board.
The Mansfield native feels that there needs to be more of a “parents’ perspective” on the board in conjunction with views from township stakeholders and their opinions on what should be done in the school district.
“I believe in parental rights and believe that parents are the best advocates for their children,” Shenowski said. “I am committed to what is in the best interest of our students, parents and the community, as well as the safety and security of our children.”
Shenowski has 20 years of experience being a vice president of a local manufacturing company. He said he has been “instrumental” instituting all of the company’s policies during that time and believes his experience with developing policies and being budget conscious will be a great addition to the BOE.
Holman has 30 years of experience working as an office manager in school districts around the state, with 25 years coming as an office manager for the Plumsted Township School District.
During that time, Holman said she worked a lot with the BOE in those school districts and believes her experience will be a great asset for Bordentown.
“I feel I offer many years of great experience to the BOE,” Holman said. “I want to help enhance what is already in place in the school district.”
One area of need that Holman feels the BOE needs to address is the shortage of staff in the district. Holman said she has recently seen many teachers and staff leave the district and thinks the BOE needs to conduct a survey on why that is and fix those issues for the district moving forward.
Holman is currently retired and works part-time for a local plumbing contractor. She moved to Bordentown a little over three years ago and has three grandsons currently enrolled at Peter Muschal Elementary School.
She is a former Girl Scout leader and has coached recreation softball, soccer and cheerleading in the past.
Polls open from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. Nov. 8.