Editor's Note: Each of the nine candidates running for a seat on the township Board of Education responded to a questionnaire sent by Brick Patch. Their answers to our questions – plus one personal statement – will be published on our site verbatim. Two candidate profiles per day, in alphabetical order according to last name, will appear this week until all have been published. We have disabled comments on profile articles to ensure the candidates' statements speak for themselves and readers can decide, without additional, anonymous commentary, their view on those running for office.
Full Name: David Fischer
Occupation: I am self-employed selling online and at trade shows.
Are you employed by a public school district? If so, which?
I am also employed by the Freehold Regional High School District as a Substitute Teacher.
Highest Level of Education Achieved (optional: include degree/institution): B.A. in History with an education concentration from Montclair State University.
Have you previously held an elected position in Brick or elsewhere? I have never held public office.
Where do you stand on balancing Brick’s resources between academics and sports programs? Given a tight budgetary environment, where would your priorities lie in this regard?
I believe that a child’s education is greater than the sum of the parts leading to graduation. There are many factors that lead to a full education experience and it is hard to remove one without possibly hurting the outcome. Not all children participate in extra-curricular activities, but that does not make these activities any less important in a child’s overall experience. All activities, including sports and clubs, bring our community together and help to develop in our children a strong feeling of spirit, accomplishment and leadership skills. I believe that all avenues, including pay-to-play, fundraising and donation support, must be explored before eliminating any extra-curricular activity. The main focus of any school system is to ensure the proper education of all of our children and to this end I would do my best to ensure that our schools never lack in the tools necessary to reach this goal.
How would you seek to bolster the academic experience of students with the goal of adequately preparing them for college? What specific types of programs and initiatives would you like to see put in place to make Brick the most academically challenging district it could be?
I would make it my priority to ensure that our superintendent was actively evaluating all new educational pedagogies that may be presented through publications or suggestions from members of the educational community. It is important that all new technologies be explored, not only for what new programs we may be able to add, but also to gain knowledge in how to fully utilize what we have already installed. Our educators are our greatest asset, and constant training in the methods of using their resources to optimize the educational experience is important to help attain the goals of a successful student. It is also important that teachers be given the freedom to use innovative techniques to take advantage of a student’s learning style. We must also enlist the aid of our local business community in supporting the educational process through programs that reward those that reach the highest levels of achievement. Many colleges offer credit for select high school courses through programs such as “Course Ahead” and “Jump Start.” We must ensure that our courses meet college criteria so that this option is available to our students as an incentive to achieve their goals. A school’s dynamic is constantly changing and we must ensure that we have the right people and programs in place to fully take advantage of those changes.
How should the board deal with public participation at board meetings? Also, briefly describe your views on how the Board of Education can achieve the most transparent relationship possible with the community, and specific policies you would propose that would help meet this goal.
An informative and open board meeting is essential to the operation of a school district. The population must be allowed to see and question all decisions made by the BOE that affect the education of the children and the operation of the school district. No one should be prohibited from speaking and asking questions regardless of the time it takes or the time of day. Currently community members are limited to asking questions before the entire agenda is discussed by board members and then after the board members have cast all their votes. Since the agenda is divided up into voting sections I believe that the community should be able to ask questions after each section since actions of the board during discussions on these sections may elicit other concerns from the audience. No inquiry should ever be ignored and no member of the community should ever be chastised for getting up and voicing their concern. Kindness and respect must be shown to those who have opposing points of view; censorship of any kind should not be allowed. Questions must be answered at the meeting and, if the Board does not have the information on hand, then the question and answer should be posted on the BOE website within just a few days. The lines of communication must always be open and accessible by all members of the community.
Capital projects – including repairs to aging school buildings – have long been a concern of many Brick residents. What improvements should be prioritized and what would be your strategy in mapping out a potential referendum to be presented to voters?
As a member of the Facilities Committee, I am acutely aware of the many improvements that are required for the schools in our district. The heating systems in many schools are beyond end of life and the cost of maintaining and repairing them will increase over time. We have solar panels that supply electricity but to take full advantage of them we need to upgrade lighting systems to be brighter and more energy efficient. The HVAC system at our High Schools are past their life expectancy and almost all replacement parts need to be custom made at a high cost for most repairs. In addition, during the winter, some classrooms get too hot to use due to system controls that can no longer be repaired. A new system would be energy efficient and maintenance friendly, which would save tax dollars and improve the school environment. I would consider it a priority to put the replacement of the HVAC systems that have surpassed their end of life before the voters. In addition to the large ticket renovations that need to be made, there are many small projects that can be completed, including upgrades to communication, wiring and electrical systems, with the capital funds that are in our 2011-2012 budget. I would be sure to present to the public not only the work that has to be done but the benefit to the education of our students and the cost savings over time to the taxpayer.
In 250 words or less, please describe why you are seeking election or re-election to the board, and why you are qualified to represent the interests of the taxpayers and the students in such a position.
I consider my background in education and business qualifies me to represent the students and taxpayers of our community. From the time I was 17, I have been managing businesses. I developed my team leadership skills and became proficient at implementing ideas as I elevated my hands-on self-taught experience to the level of managing small to multi-million dollar businesses. For the last 20 years, I have been operating my own successful sales business which allows me the flexibility to be available for all the duties of a board member. I have a BA in History from Montclair State University with an education concentration and I am well versed in conducting research. For the past 22 years, I have worked in various school districts as a substitute teacher and this has allowed me to gain insight into the operation of schools and the needs of the education community. I have many relatives who are educators and they are a rich resource for me whenever I need to discuss any aspect of education. I do not have any self-interest in serving on the BOE other than to ensure that our students are afforded a well-rounded education, that the educators are treated fairly and that our community and taxpayer’s interests are not overlooked. I have every confidence that my education and business background provides a good foundation for me to efficiently perform the duties of a member of the Brick Board of Education.