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BOE Candidate Profile: Jack Zawacki

Candidates for the Brick Township Board of Education respond to questions posed by Brick Patch

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.

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Full Name: Jack Zawacki
Current Age: 47
Occupation: Real Estate Sales Agent

Are you employed by a public school district?: No

Highest Level of Education Achieved (optional: include degree/institution) :
Completed two years of college

Have you ever previously held an elected office in Brick or elsewhere?
No.

Questions:

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?

Education is defined as, "the impartial and acquiring of knowledge through teaching and learning, especially at a school or other institution." This definition does not differentiate where the teaching takes place, nor should we. Although, this definition by itself, only encompasses the idea of education in its purest form, and does not take into account the practical application of education. It is in the practical application that the board of education must act in order to produce well-rounded students. The learning environment of the schools needs to be equipped with the necessary  materials and personnel before addressing the educational process that occurs outside the classroom in any of the extracurricular activities. The classrooms have to be our top priority before adding the luxuries of sports and clubs. Having grown up excelling in sports I understand the importance of having them as part of our children's education. I also understand that 99.9% of these students will not make a career of the sport that they play in middle/high school. The governing body of collegiate athletics, the NCAA, in most cases recognizes those playing sports as student-athletes. That moniker alone illustrates the point of developing the student before the athlete. Although, I do not believe that if a "pay to play" needs to be developed you cannot differentiate between which extracurricular activities pay a fee and which do not.

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?

Bolstering a student's education should be paramount in the minds of everyone associated with education. Brick's core curriculum is state mandated and is therefore strictly adhered to, but it is the elective programs where a student's mind is opened to the numerous possibilities that are encompassed within the core curriculum. Although, in order to develop a better elective program, you need to communicate with post-secondary school personnel to ensure that the programs offered would indeed give our students a better knowledge base for college. College life presents many obstacles to a majority of high school graduates. Fortunately, with block scheduling, a Brick graduate will not go into shock when attending classes at the college of his/her choice.

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.

I feel the public participation at monthly board meetings has greatly improved. I recall a meeting at Lake Riviera Middle School where one newly elected board member noted the length of the meetings had become excessive and needed to be addressed. It was commonplace for the meeting to last well into the late hours of the night and sometimes early mornings. Everyone has an opinion and the inalienable right to voice that opinion. But some who come to the lectern use that time for their own personal soapbox without regard to the others in attendance of if their statements had been previously addressed. Do I feel there's still room for improvement? Yes. No one has all the answers, and in my opinion, input from everyone on how to improve the flow of the meetings would be greatly appreciated. But, everyone needs to be cognizant of others who may wish to address other issues, as well as the time involved, in order to fully address the concerns of those coming to the lectern. It seems that the weekly budget meetings helped the board to address the public's questions and concerns. Maybe, the board could set an additional meeting once a month for the express purpose of fielding questions and then bringing those answers to the scheduled monthly meeting.

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?

A student's learning environment has a definitive affect on his/her attitude and ability to retain what is being taught. The neglect that all schools have been subjected to throughout the years has to end. A homeowner would not allow their home to deteriorate to the extent of our schools, yet previous boards have chosen to look the other way when our children's second home, their schools, are in need of repairs. Revenue generating streams, such as solar panels, would alleviate some of the burden, but these are not enough. In order to make wholesale renovations to all of Brick's schools, particularly Brick High School, referendums will be needed. Again, this is where facilitating communication between the public and the school board, through a facilities committee, would help prioritize the renovations and various schools. Many successful business men have built empires on the premise that two heads are better than one. These buildings did not deteriorate overnight, nor will they be repaired that quickly. An old riddle asks, "How does an individual eat an elephant?," and the answer is, "one bite at a time."

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 am seeking election to the Brick Board of Education for a few reasons. The first is my daughters. I have been involved in their education since the first days of school. My involvement has steadily progressed through the years, and being a member of the board seems to fit into this natural progression. Secondly, is my dedication to a child's development. During my adult life I have advised, mentored and coached numerous children at various times of their lives. Being elected to the board would be the pinnacle of my volunteer achievements. The final reason, as I see it, is a duty to me and my parents. I was taught at a very young age to give of myself and my acquired knowledge whenever possible. My extensive financial knowledge is rooted in the New York Stock Exchange and makes me an excellent candidate for this position. When elected, my ability to work with large numbers and negotiate without emotion or prejudice are skills that will serve me and my colleagues well.

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