Residents of Millstone Township will have a full slate of candidates from which to elect three members to the Millstone Township K-8 School District Board of Education in the Nov. 3 election.
The terms of school board members Amy Jacobson, Ramon Recalde and Neil Schloss are ending in December. Schloss is not seeking re-election.
The candidates seeking three-year terms are Jacobson, Recalde, John Sico Jr., Billy Hanson, Tabitha Zuleika Fudge and Nicole Pyhel.
Each candidate was asked to provide a statement to let their fellow residents know why they are seeking a seat on the school board.
Tabitha Zuleika Fudge: “I am running for the board for several reasons. I have two children who have greatly benefited from a quality public school education in Millstone Township. As an advocate in my field, for over 20 years, serving throughout my church and community, I know I can make a difference and bring new and innovative ideas to the forefront through effective leadership.
“My two children have been proud recipients of the special services educational programs. These programs are offered by the exemplary Millstone Township child study team. I would like to advocate in this area of specialty. I am willing to serve all of our students equally to ensure they receive a quality education.
“My service has stretched throughout the community over the years. I see the school board as another venue to advocate for our students. I would work to teach, mentor and influence as decisions are made on their behalf as they develop and move through the educational process.
“I am a lifelong resident of Millstone who is capable of serving the community for teachers, parents and students alike. I am an alumnus, class of 1992, from Allentown High School. I am the fourth generation to go through the Millstone and Allentown school districts. I truly have been blessed and I have an intricate perspective of my community,” Fudge said.
Billy Hanson: “My family and I have had the pleasure of being members of the Millstone community for the past 12 years. As a CPA, my financial background has served me well in my career as CEO of an office equipment dealership in New York.
“I have used this experience over the past nine years to represent Millstone families as a commissioner of the Millstone Township Recreation Committee.
“As vice president of the committee, the other board members and I are charged with ensuring that all children are afforded the opportunity to participate in any sport, no matter the skill level of the child, while simultaneously running the programs revenue neutral, so as to have no financial impact to the Millstone taxpayer. It is with this experience and mindset that I am set to face a new challenge as a member of the school board.
“Currently, my wife, Lori, and I have two daughters attending the Millstone Township Middle School. We have been pleased with the quality of education they have received as well as the depth of available resources.
“The current board and administrative leadership of the Millstone schools have focused upon fiscal responsibility and an environment of openness with Millstone families. I support these concepts because they are of great importance to the community represented by the board and to me as a taxpaying parent of Millstone students,” Hanson said.
Amy S. Jacobson: “I have lived in Millstone for 13 years and have four children who are currently in or have graduated from our public schools. I have represented the interests of the students and taxpayers of Millstone Township by serving as a member of the board for the past six-and-a-half years. During that time I also attended meetings and served on various committees as the Millstone representative for the Upper Freehold Regional School District.
“I am running for another term because I feel strongly in giving back to the community and advocating for the students and taxpayers of our town by helping to support the growth and development of rigorous academic programming that will not only help our students succeed in a 21st century global economy, but also benefit the taxpayers by increasing home values.
“It is a great time in education as we implement the Next Generation Science Standards and continue to develop engaging opportunities for kids to grow and explore. My focus has always been about providing the very best education for each and every child as well as creating a pro-social environment and culture of positive and productive engagement with parents, community, staff and students,” Jacobson said. Nicole Pyhel: “I believe education is the key to success and opportunity. I have dedicated the past five years to enhancing it for Millstone Township public school students as a Millstone Township Foundation for Educational Excellence trustee and for the past four years as the foundation’s president.
“In this volunteer role, I have seen firsthand the positive impact it makes on students which inspires me to want to do more. Throughout my career and as a volunteer, I have a proven track record of results.
“As a member of the steering committee during the recent strategic planning process, I shared my knowledge in marketing communications and education, and became well informed on the future educational plans for the district.
“Being a member of the board will enable me to continue my service and passion for providing Millstone Township students with a superior education, while maintaining fiscal responsibility,” Pyhel said.
Ramon Recalde: “In one sentence: Paying it forward. Everything I can contribute to improve our schools, I am there. Directly or indirectly, I have been involved with the district for nearly 15 years.
“Our four children have benefited from a solid education in Millstone; with that in mind, I am a true believer that there is always room for improvement and innovation. If I can contribute by questioning, supporting, challenging the system, with positive, out-of-the-box perspectives, then it is all worth it.
“Our country is staking its future on a well-rounded STEM/STEAM education. Our district is aggressively moving in that direction with significant changes ahead of us. A successful outcome will depend on our board to provide the administration and students with the proper tools and staff. These steps will most definitely face bumps on the road in the areas of curriculum, technology, assessment and budgeting.
“Next to our educational goals, our most crucial challenges rest with the inevitable decrease of student population and hard decisions pertaining to infrastructure sustainability and needed capital improvements, while balancing the ongoing pedagogic improvements and goals set forward by our board with the frugal, disciplined use of our tax dollars,” Recalde said.
John Sico Jr.: “I am a retired superintendent of schools. I have the knowledge of curriculum and I understand fiduciary responsibilities to help set policy for the best interests of the student and taxpayer. In my 46-year educational career I have always put the student first. I have always worked within the budget and made tough decisions to benefit students and taxpayers.
“During my educational career, I was inducted into the Paterson Eastside High School Hall of Fame for outstanding educators. I was honored and recognized at M.I.T. as one of the top math educators in the country. I am a mathematics author. I was privileged to serve as a Board of Trustee/Vice President at Passaic County Community College.
“I was chosen as a committee member by the Department of Education in Washington, D.C., to work on ‘How to Improve the Teaching of Math and Science.’ I was a panelist at Fordham University on ‘How to Be An Effective Administrator,’ and a panelist at the New Jersey Department of Labor on ‘How to Establish Effective School-to- Work Partnerships.’ My wife and I moved to Millstone in 2010 and five of our grandchildren are in the school district. Working together, we will make a difference,” Sico said.