Four candidates to run for three open seats on Lawrence school board

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Four candidates, including two incumbent school board members, turned in nominating petitions to run for three open seats on the Lawrence Township Public Schools Board of Education by the July 31 deadline.

Incumbent school board members Michele Bowes and Arundel Clarke submitted their petitions. Thomas J. Figueira and Diana Pasculli also turned in petitions. School board member Patricia Hendricks Farmer is not seeking re-election.

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Bowes, Clarke and Pasculli are running as a slate of candidates on the “Students First” ticket.

Figueira is running alone on the Quality Education Safely ticket.

The school board election is Nov. 7. The term is for three years.

Bowes is seeking her fourth term on the school board. She is the chair of the Mental Health and Guidance Committee and also serves on the board’s Curriculum and Instruction, Personnel and Equity committees.

She served as chair of the school board’s superintendent search committee, which was created to find a replacement for Superintendent of Schools Ross Kasun. He is retiring on Sept. 1.

Bowes has two children, both of whom started their school careers at the Ben Franklin Elementary School. One child graduated from Lawrence High School in 2022 and the other child is a senior at the high school.

Bowes is running for re-election because she said she wants to continue to build on the progress that has been made in the district. The schools play a critical role in a child’s future and she is devoted to their success, she said.

“My focus is on academic achievement and student health and wellness. I bring experience, dedication and passion and I wish to be a part of the successful transition to the new superintendent of schools,” she said.

Clarke, who was appointed to fill an unexpired term in 2022, is seeking election to his first full term. He is chairman of the school board’s Equity Committee.

He has one child who attends the Lawrence Intermediate School.

“I am running for election to help continue building relationships within the district among our growing and diverse communities who have concerns about academic, inclusive and equitable growth in the best interests of our students and school body,” he said.

Pasculli has two children. One is a student who attends the Lawrenceville Elementary School and the other child attends the Lawrence Intermediate School.

“I am running for election to be more engaged in our education community and to work with fellow board members, administrators, students, families and educators,” she said.

Pasculli said she has dedicated her entire career to education – first as a middle school teacher and then working on statewide school laws and policies. Within each role, she has worked to improve the educational opportunities for all children, she said.

She worked collaboratively and built relationships with others to achieve those goals. She tries to find common ground with others, as well.

Pasculli said her experiences as a middle school teacher and parent, combined with her participation in multiple statewide education initiatives, has given her some unique perspectives.

“If I am elected, I will rely on these experiences to support the vision and goals of the school board. I will work tirelessly to ensure that all students have opportunities to thrive in school and beyond,” she said.

Figueira is making his second attempt to gain a seat on the school board. He ran unsuccessfully for a seat on the school board in 2022.

He has three children. Two of his children are graduates of Lawrence High School. His third child has special needs and attended the Midland School.

Figueira said he is running for a seat on the school board to ensure that every student is given access to an education that matches or exceeds the education that his children received. Every student should have the best opportunity to achieve learning outcomes suited to their talents and aspirations, he said.

If he is elected to the school board, Figueira said he would bring his extensive knowledge of – and experience in – educational issues. He is a retired professor of classics and ancient history at Rutgers University. He also pointed to his expertise in the social sciences and the history of gender and sexuality, including major grants and publications.

Figueira said the school district’s ranking has dropped in every evaluation over the past few years. The situation can be reversed by focusing on both remedial measures and careful tailoring of planning for students in a try-everything approach, he said.

At one end of the spectrum, struggling students may need interventions that include enhanced study halls, supervised study and tutoring. At the other end of the spectrum, the focus should be on more and more intense Advanced Placement options and better counseling for future educational prospects, Figueira said.

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