SAYREVILLE – Four candidates are seeking three available, three-year terms on the Sayreville School District Board of Education during the general election in November.
The terms currently held by board members Lucy Bloom, John Walsh and Dan Balka will expire at the end of the year. Balka is not seeking re-election, having filed to run in the Borough Council election.
The candidates seeking the seats are Bloom, Walsh, former board member Christopher Callahan and Jeffrey Smith.
Bloom is a retired secondary art teacher who taught at Sayreville War Memorial High School (SWMHS) during the last 19 years of her career. She has resided in Sayreville for 50 years.
A member of the board since 2014, Bloom is also the president of the Middlesex County School Boards Assocation. She is a past president of the Sayreville Education Association and has served on the Executive Committee of the New Jersey Education Association and the New Jersey School Boards Association Board of Directors.
“I am running again because I care about our students and want them to get the best that we can provide,” Bloom said.
“I believe that my background in education is a valuable asset to the board. My experience has been useful in many areas over the past nine years.”
If re-elected, Bloom said three areas of focus for her would be safety, diversity in hiring and infrastructure improvements.
Callahan is supervisor of mathematics with the Woodbridge Township School District, where he has worked for 20 years, 12 years at the district level. For 13 years, he has also been an adjunct professor at Middlesex College in the mathematics department. Prior to his career in education, Callahan worked in information technology.
A resident of Sayreville for 38 years, Callahan is a graduate of SWMHS. He holds a dual degree in mathematics and computer science from Rutgers University and New Jersey Institute of Technology and a Master of Business Administration from Columbia University. Callahan previously served on the board from 2018 to 2021.
“My wife, Lori and I have two children in the Sayreville school’s system – a seventh grader (Class of 2028) and a fifth grader (Class of 2030),” Callahan said. “I always want the best for my children as well as all children. I want to bring my 20 years of educational experience to help the district continue the focus of providing a quality and challenging education for all students while enabling them to compete successfully in the 21st century.
“I will continue to bring my work experiences as an educator, administrator and parent to the Board of Education (BOE),” he said.
If re-elected, Callahan said three areas of focus for him would be advocating for the district and taxpayers, supporting all teachers and administrative staff, and having the safest schools and procedures possible.
Walsh, who is currently serving as board vice president, is the executive director for the New York Shipping Association-International Longshoreman Association. Prior to his career in the maritime industry, he was a teacher for 15 years and holds a bachelor’s degree in education from Montclair State University. Walsh is a lifelong resident of Sayreville and a graduate of SWMHS.
A member of the board since 2014, Walsh is also on the board of directors of the Educational Services Commission of New Jersey. He is the president and founder of the Sayreville Junior Bombers youth football and cheer organization, as well as the president of Sayreville Youth Lacrosse.
“I am seeking re-election to continue the improvements we have made the past nine years under the excellent leadership of [Superintendent of Schools Richard] Labbe, including making sure our schools are among the safest around, adding free pre-kindergarten and opening our brand new 18-21 school,” Walsh said.
“My past experience in the classroom has given me insight to many of the challenges our staff and students face day in and day out.”
If re-elected, Walsh said three areas of focus for him will be making certain students catch up on reading loss that occurred during the coronavirus pandemic, ensuring the improvements in the recent referendum are fulfilled to expectations and ensuring the schools are a safe place for students and staff.
Smith did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Polls open from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. Nov. 8.