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BOE Candidate Profile: John Barton

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 : John Barton
Current Age : 52
Occupation: Public School Teacher

Are you employed by a public school district? If so, which?
Jackson Township Board of Education

 Highest Level of Education Achieved (optional: include degree/institution) :
The Richard Stockton College of New Jersey
Georgian Court University

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?

It is not fiscally responsible to keep programs that lack enrollment, if you can’t fund a program, then just don’t offer it. There are many reasons Brick put back some of the sports programs, but remember all of the participants must first be academically eligible.

Since nobody is asking for out of the ordinary funding for either sports or academics the board was able to come to consensus for 2011-2012. The board looked confident and it was a unanimous vote for the added programs. It should always come down to what the community wants. Even though on paper the sports were cut from middle school, with the help of the administration, the community, and the board all but cheer and basketball ended up being played in 2010-2011.

This year the majority if the requests from the community were about sports, both middle school and high school programs. The superintendent has publically stated that he would like to focus on AP and honors programming this year; and some of those honors classes were added into the budget.

I am not convinced that the current board has worked for the benefit of the children in Brick Township Schools. I would like to help build a better future between the community and the school. Community members and school boards need to communicate constantly so that the academic programming and the extracurricular programming remain. The decisions we make now can affect our community’s future.

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?

If you want to think specifics that are way out there, take a look at the trend that is happening, in education, because of what research says about project based learning. Why couldn’t Brick Township Schools create an academic project based learning academy, similar to MATES or PAA, but keep it in house. This could end up being a tuition program that could draw students into the district. It also may be important in the future if intended changes end up mandated in public schools. Students will need a reason to want to choose Brick Schools and an academy might be very enticing.

Academic clubs, academic bowls, and peer programs have little if any cost to a district and these fosters stealth competitiveness in the classroom. Teachers should be trained in differentiated instruction and students should be engaged. Learning should be offered in the form of the most exciting lessons that the teachers can find from the current materials purchased by the schools. Unfortunately, there is usually a substantial difference in a student’s report card average and their standardized test score averages. Homework passes and such create poor habits, plus what kind of message does it send.

Students can bolster their own learning experience by learning how to be motivated to learn, learning to set goals for their future, and learning to develop a strong work ethic. Keep the student’s creative, confident, and happy and you will see them challenge themselves and each other to achieve their highest potential.

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.

The public must be heard, how else can anybody learn what public concerns are if the public can’t express their views. I never see the public carrying on the late hour meetings; it has always been the board side of the meeting. Limits for public comment should be extended to limiting the board comments too.

Use more community surveys, similar to the one used to ask about the MS sports this year. Use technology more frequently, phone blasts, web sites, Facebook and Twitter. My position is that schools are our future and now is the time to start thinking about the future for our schools. Attend these board meetings and see for yourself some of what the students are achieving as they perform or present themselves publically. There are wonderful things happening in Brick schools that are too easy to overlook.

Transparent relationships with the community should include students, school employees, parents, and other community members attending committee meetings or other functions that the board holds. The meeting site should be set before hand to assure proper audio and room temperatures to make the public comfortable at the board meeting. I am a coffee person; I would love to serve coffee and tea at all of the meetings. And, did I mention the coffee.

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?

The schools are in need of repair, and the repairs must be done. Before thinking that the schools don’t have repair issues, take a look at them. There are doors that need replacing, clocks and bells need replacing, bleachers need replacing, lockers have to be replaced, kitchens have to be made larger, electric wires have to be put behind ceiling tiles, lights have to be made to work and then made safe, the list goes on.

To prioritize improvements, fix safety issues number one. I have toured many buildings and I see issues that are just not safe for the children in the schools, fix these things. The next, from the list of items to be repaired, would be fix things that will pay for themselves. For example, energy efficient lighting and furnace replacements will save the cost of the bill for the purchase by reducing the cost of the utility needed to run those items. There are many ways to achieve these improvements; it depends on how the community wants to go about working the improvements out. Brick has grown; it has been hard to keep up with the growth. Additions might help out too.

The Board is already working on resolving each of these issues, the community has to stay informed and add their input in order to make the improvements work. It would be best if everybody could come out, get informed, and help to finalize a plan.

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.

John Barton is seeking to be elected to the Brick Township Board of Education because he believes in Brick Schools. John loves Brick, he loves New Jersey, and he would be honored if given the opportunity to serve in a capacity that he understands, the Impact of Education.

John is the father of two children; his daughter graduated with honors from BTHS and is on the Dean’s List at college. His son has earned honors in middle school and he will be entering BTHS this year. John has been a Brick resident since 1965 and he graduated from BTHS in 1976. His reason for seeking a board position is strictly volunteerism; he wants to help Brick Township residents, residents’ families, and the children in Brick Schools. John is highly qualified to help with board decisions.

He currently holds the Treasurer’s position with the Ocean County Middle School Athletic League; he has served as the OCIAL Treasurer since 1999. John created the Middle School Sportsmanship Award and that Award is continuing each year. For 12 years, John has helped with the organization of all Middle School All Star Events.

His experience goes beyond sports; he worked as the Ocean County Education Association Newsletter Editor from 1988 – 1995. As well he served on the Ocean County Education Association Executive Committee for the NJEA. He has listened to Union talks for years.

Now is the time, to help yourself, “Touch the Future,” by Voting Row 2, John Barton to the Brick Township Board of Education on April 27, 2011.

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