8 residents seeking 3 seats on Jackson school board

Election 2015

Staff Writer

Eight residents are seeking three threeyear terms on the seven-member Jackson School District Board of Education in the Nov. 3 election.

The terms of board members Marvin Krakower, Adam Silvan and Theresa Schiazza will end in December. Schiazza is not seeking re-election.

Krakower and Silvan are seeking reelection and are joined on the ballot by John Burnetsky, Vicki Grasso, Nathan Grosshandler, Jonathan Regan-Levine, Scott Sargent and Michael Walsh.

Each candidate was asked why he or she is running for a seat on the board.

Burnetsky said, “My reason for running is simple. I have three daughters and I can proudly say they are graduates of Jackson’s public schools. I have been a two year copresident of the Crawford-Rodriguez Elementary School Parent-Teachers Network and a two-year president of the Jackson Liberty High School Band Parent and Student Association.

“I have seen how hard teachers work, how hard all the parent organizations work, and I want to play a part in helping them help the kids. I also expect to be a steward of the people’s hard-earned money. My position as a small businessman in town will bring a different perspective to the board.

“I certainly do not believe I know everything, but I am willing to learn and to work with people to make sure Jackson’s kids continue to receive a top-notch education. I have extensive experience in volunteer work. I am a past Grand Knight of St. Monica’s Knights of Columbus in Jackson, as well as past president of the Jackson Chamber of Commerce.

“Our business, Farley’s Ice Cream, has run countless fundraisers and donated thousands of dollars to parent organizations and school teams in Jackson for more than 20 years,” Burnetsky said.

Grasso said, “I decided to run for the school board for many reasons. First and foremost, my personal experiences with the Jackson School District have been wonderful and I am very interested in making sure the schools continue to serve the needs of the students and the community.

“Making sure the needs of the students come first is my main priority. One of my children is (a) special needs (pupil) and I cannot say enough about the support and the resources my son has received. As a parent and a resident, I am concerned with property taxes, expenditures and anything that may impact our school community. I am also very committed to curriculum, extracurricular activities, school resources and anything else that may benefit our kids and their learning.

“Preserving the best interests of our kids should be the primary function of every school board. I have no political affiliation or hidden agenda. I am confident I can adequately represent the interests of parents of school-aged children and taxpayers in Jackson. I am committed to preserving the quality of education in Jackson and above all else, I promise to keep the kids first,” Grasso said.

Grosshandler said, “I believe high-quality school systems are a centerpiece to great communities. As a product of Jackson schools, I understand how great our schools are. Our children deserve the same exceptional educational experience I received. I will work hard to maintain the quality of our valuable school system. I will support all efforts to further grow our district while also making financially responsible decisions for our community.

“I have always had a passion for serving the people and students of Jackson. If elected, I will work to form effective partnerships with the district administration and other Board of Education members for the purpose of continuing to improve upon the high-performing, efficient school district our community expects,” Grosshandler said.

Krakower said, “I have been a successful member of the Jackson Board of Education since 1995. During that time, I have played an important role in creating a quality education system, while being smart about our finances. All four of my children have been educated through the Jackson School District. I work hard to support all of our great schools and I would like to continue this success for the next three years as a member of the board.”

Regan-Levine said, “I chose to run this year for a simple reason: Jackson students deserve better than this and the status quo is not good enough anymore. The board needs new blood if any effective changes are going to be made. …

“If elected, I hope to usher in a new era of fiscal responsibility [by] putting the priority back on the kids and their education. I also hope to enrich the arts programs in all of Jackson’s schools. I grew up here and went through this school system. I have the unique perspective of having seen how things work from the students’ side,” Regan-Levine said.

Sargent said, “I would like to see the district continue to provide excellence to all students, to continue to provide inclusion when possible for our special needs children and to minimize the impact of required standardized testing. I will be watchful that Jackson tax dollars are used for Jackson students.

“One concern right now is that busing will be required for out-of-district students in a way that adversely affects transportation. State law is very clear as to what should be done. There is no requirement for separate busing for different schools, or for boys and girls. Only efficiency is required and I will see that nothing is provided beyond state requirements.

“I want to see more school board outreach to involve taxpayers in the board’s decisions. I want to protect the rights of our families and students with respect to standardized testing. Mostly, I want to evaluate the current administrative needs of the district.

“With all that is facing Jackson today, it is important that the right person is chosen; someone who is not responsible to local real estate professionals or the New Jersey Education Association. Being one of the few truly independent candidates on this ballot, I feel I will best protect Jackson,” Sargent said.

Silvan said, “I am running for another term because as a board member, I am able to represent a large number of Jackson residents. As a taxpayer and father of four children, I have a vested interest in our district academically and financially.

“I have made decisions in the past and will continue to make decisions in the future with our students’ and teachers’ best interests in mind, while always considering the financial impact these decisions have on our taxpayers.

“Over the past three years, I have been a part of many exciting, positive changes in the district, including the implementation of full-day kindergarten, contract negotiations with our teachers and other employees, and the addition of much needed air conditioning in Jackson Memorial High School. I have children in all levels of schools in our district and have personal experience with special needs and enrichment and advanced placement, allowing me to get a full understanding of all educational aspects in our schools,” Silvan said.

Walsh said, “I am running for the board to use my knowledge and experience as a previous teacher and administrator to maintain the high academic standards of the Jackson School District. There is too much emphasis on big tests while the educational system is moving away from teaching the whole student.

“It is not just academics that are taught in our schools, but communication skills, socialization skills, physical fitness, job readiness skills, etc. I would see our district continue teaching more basic technology programs such as keyboarding, software programs like Excel, Word, Power Point and other general computer skills students need to succeed.

“I would protect extracurricular and cocurricular programs like athletics, drama, band and other clubs since they are a very important part of a student’s educational experience. With my knowledge of school budgets, I know I can direct the tax dollars to the projects in the district where they will be most efficiently used. I would try to cap increased spending on new programs that are not state or federally mandated and to make sure the money we have continues to go into repairing and updating the aging facilities in our system,” Walsh said.