My Endorsements for Franklin Lakes School Board

On April 27, 2011, residents of Franklin Lakes will go to the polls to elect new school boards and approve or disapprove the school budgets.  For the first time in two years, the election is competitive.  While it is cutting it close, it is not too late to get an absentee ballot.  I cannot think of a more important election than those that involve the future of our children.

The most important election is for the Franklin Lakes School District, where four candidates are running to fill three seats for a full three year term.  (One candidate is running unopposed for an unexpired two year term).  The candidates had an interview available online.  Watching the four candidates, I endorse the following:

Laurence Loprete:  an incumbent, he had a clear understanding of the role of the school board in overseeing the schools and in interacting with the community.  The role of a school board is a difficult one.  It needs to oversee the administrators but also leave them to do their work as professionals.  He will be able to balance that very well.  My reluctance is only that I would hope and expect that he will exercise leadership on the board to set policy and lead the schools in the right direction.  Policy is as important a task for a school board as oversight.

Carolyn Reitz:  her experience as a six year incumbent and the vice president of the board shows.  She understands the challenges facing the school district and the need for accountability–and how to hold schools accountable.  She has grasp of the issues and specific examples of what the Board has done and is doing to address the challenges.  Her leadership is the most important quality in this field of candidates.

Susan McGowan:  it was a close call between Susan McGowan and Craig Urciuoli, but McGowan gets the final nod.  I think it’s important to have a fresh voice on the board but, while McGowan is an incumbent, she was only appointed last year to fill in a vacant seat.  She should still be able to bring fresh perspective.  I was hoping for more specifics from a person who has been in office for a year, but I think she has the right visions for the board and the commitment to better schools.  Urciuoli’s children are just entering the school system and he hasn’t been a  member of the community that long.  In a school board election, that matters.

The approval of the local school budget is also on the ballot.  The budget is actually smaller than last year, although an immaterial increase in property taxes is requested.  Fortune magazine recently ranked our school system as one of the top ten in the country.  The fall in expenditures seem to come in appropriate amounts from appropriate places.  There is nothing in the recent budget that makes me concerned that the standard of excellence won’t be maintained, or will be maintained only at exuberant cost.  I think the school board did a very good job coming up with a workable budget in these difficult times.  Reminding people that last year’s budget only passed by 29 votes, I strongly urge you to Vote Yes.

The budget for the high school is also on the ballot.  It is eminently reasonable, with increase in the low single digits.  I again recommend a yes vote.


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