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Former board member, two newcomers secure coveted seats in contested race for Monroe school board

When January arrives former Monroe school board member Peter Tufano and newcomers Gail DiPane, and Carmen Alvarez will be sworn-in to serve their three-year terms as members of the Monroe Township Board of Education.

The three candidates for the school board secured the votes needed in a contested race that featured six candidates for three seats on the school board in the November general election on Nov. 8.

Tufano received 8,325 votes, DiPane earned 7,558 votes in the race, and Carmen Alvarez secured 6,875 votes in their winning bids for the seats.

Candidates Linda Bozowski received 6,777 votes, Adam Elias received 5,166 votes and Anne Cugini received 4,099 votes in their losing bids for the seats. Residents also casted 156 write-in votes.

Tufano is a former Monroe Township school board member, who returns to school board for a second three-year term.

During his previous term, he served on the board’s Buildings, Grounds & Transportation Committee.

Tufano has said that “increasing enrollment” in the school district is the most challenging issue facing the school district during his campaign.

Tufano did not respond to recent requests for comment by press time.

DiPane is also a former school board member that served 18 years on the North Brunswick Township Board of Education where she served as president and vice president.

Now living in Monroe, she will bring that experience in North Brunswick to her first term on Monroe’s school board.

“I thought I would be an asset to this board, and I decided to run. I enjoyed my 18 years in the North Brunswick School District, and I just felt that I could maybe lend a hand and help out over here in Monroe,” she said.

During the school board race, DiPane ran on the “Promoting Positive Change ticket” with Linda Bozowski.

“My running mate Linda and I worked hard on the campaign. It meant a lot to me to get that many votes from the residents,” DiPane said.

“It just meant that they believed in what I put out in my campaign and maybe they believed my 18 years of experience would help any board of education. My knowledge of being a board member helped me.”

DiPane’s top areas of focus will be to address the overcrowding issue in the school district and not having full-day kindergarten.

“Overcrowding is an issue and I know they want to pass a referendum in April. As a new board member, I would really like to go over and look at the proposal they sent to Trenton,” she said. “We have to take care of the kids and give them the best possible education in the best possible setting, which is not shoving them into classrooms and overcrowding.”

DiPane noted that she would like to see down the road the offering of full-day kindergarten.

Carmen Alvarez is a bilingual social worker for the Elizabeth Public Schools. She secured her first term on the school in November.

“I am grateful to my fellow residents for electing me to the school board. Their confidence in me and my educational experience is evident, and I will strive to work hard to maintain and improve upon the success of our students and school district,” she said.

Alvarez’s areas of focus will be the upcoming referendum, overcrowding and full-day kindergarten.

“As a board member, I will work to pass a fiscally responsible referendum that addresses overcrowding and much needed repairs and renovations to one of our oldest schools,” she said.

Alvarez added that she plans to work towards the implementation of a full-day kindergarten program with the intent of eventually preparing Monroe Township to receive state funding for universal preschool.

“I believe that strong early education programs are key to future student successes,” she said.

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