Editor's Note: Each of the 11 candidates running for a seat on the township's Board of Education responded to a questionnaire sent by Brick Patch. Their answers to our questions will be published on our site verbatim. Candidate profiles, in alphabetical order according to last name, will appear through Friday 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 J. Fischer
Current Age : (No answer.)
Current Occupation: Self-employed: sales. I am also employed as a substitute teacher for the Freehold Regional High School System
Highest Level of Education Achieved (optional: include degree/institution)
I have a BA in History from Montclair State University and I am currently working on a Masters in History at MSU.
Have you ever previously held an elected office in Brick or elsewhere?
Question 1: The issue of school district facilities is frequently on the minds on Brick residents. Please describe your specific priorities in terms of where tax dollars and capital funding should be directed for facilities projects. Do you favor looking into the possibility of holding a referendum for a future capital outlay?
I am very familiar with what needs to be done to repair the infrastructure of our schools. I was an active member of the ad-hoc Facilities Committee that was tasked in 2011-2012 by the Board of Education to determine the repairs, renovations and additions required for our schools to be brought up to date. I was able to see, first hand, the resulting disrepair caused by past Boards of Education neglecting to sufficiently fund maintenance which had resulted in numerous run-down and possibly unsafe conditions. All of our schools need renovations ranging in cost from a few dollars to many millions of dollars for major repairs. The multitudes of problems that need remedy are staggering and will require continued investment to prevent failure. Besides the buildings, an area that apparently has been underfunded is the repair and maintenance of the buses. A small investment to insure that each bus is safe seems to have been ignored for far too long. The current Board has been promoting a laptop initiative but they have failed to consider the electrical systems and security required to fully implement this project over the next few years.
Money needs to be spent to repair and upgrade and not just ‘patch’ systems, as had been done in the past. Yes, we can do small repairs with $1-million or less but not the major repairs that are needed. Real money needs to be found for the repairs required for the schools and this will require a public vote once we, again, survey the schools. We must develop and rigorously keep to a schedule of maintenance and upgrades so as to prevent the neglect that had been a hallmark of past Boards of Education. Money has to be spent, not only on educating our students, but also on the infrastructure so as to insure a safe and clean environment for our children that promotes learning for the 21st century.
Question 2: Some members of the community have voiced concern over the rigor of the district’s academic program, as well as the availability of honors and advanced placement courses at the high school level. What specific policy steps do you feel the district should be taking to ensure students receive a rigorous and competitive college preparatory education in our public school system?
I believe that a child’s education is greater than the sum of the parts leading to graduation and beyond. School districts must adapt their academic programs to fit the mix of students and educators so as to maximize their learning potential. The way to do this in Brick is to tap into the wealth of knowledge and experience held by our faculty and supervising educators as well as the current research that furthers our understanding of the learning process. In addition, we must build strong relationships with colleges and universities so as to insure that our programs are helping to make our students college and workplace ready. The laptop initiative recently taken by our Board of Education does not go far enough in this regard. In today’s technological world, we need all our students working with computers on a daily basis to aid in the learning process. School systems that have totally embraced technology have shown that this leads to greater gains in student achievement. I would task the superintendent of our schools with creating an environment where the teachers are free to bring new ideas to his attention, ideas that would be vetted with the goal of increasing academic excellence in all of our programs. Promptly adding, improving or removing programs that coincide with current research in education, which our educators are exposed to constantly through professional development, is the only way to keep our students on track to excel in their chosen educational and life careers.
These programs would have to include using the latest in methods, technology and research as well as a strong partnership with colleges to insure that the correct direction is being taken by our schools. Constant evaluation of all programs would also be a requirement to insure we are meeting optimum goals.
Question 3: Full day kindergarten is becoming more common in public school districts, and there is the possibility that the state could mandate its availability in the coming years. Describe your support for, or opposition to, such a program in Brick. If it becomes a mandate, what approach would you take towards implementing a cost effective full-day kindergarten program for the Brick district?
In today’s educational environment, it is important that we give our children every chance to succeed. Full day kindergarten has been implemented by many school districts throughout the country and it is quickly becoming the normal course in progressive communities. Research has found that young children exposed to full day kindergarten, as opposed to half day, leads to an enhanced ability to read better for content, understand mathematics and science more readily and gives them a better chance to excel in almost all subjects. What’s more, it has been found that these advantages extend throughout the student’s academic career and into their lives beyond. Further, the implementation of full day kindergarten has been shown to narrow the achievement gap between all socio-economic groups. This, to me, is not a question of how we will fund it but why are we not already implementing such a far-reaching educational program as full day kindergarten. If we can find money to replace our bleachers, we can surly find the money to better educate the youngest of our future.
Question 4: It is no secret that New Jersey – specifically, its suburban communities – has the nation’s highest property taxes. What specific ideas do you have to generate revenue or realize savings in order to stabilize the tax rate, while maintaining a proper scholastic program for students?
Saving money in our school district will insure that we have the resources to properly supply our students with everything they need to succeed. Some of my ideas for helping to save money and keep taxes from growing as they have in the past are as follows (These are by no means everything I would do, but it is a start and will lead in the right direction):
I would evaluate current revenue programs and continue those programs that are showing positive cash flow.
I would promote and obtain greater business support for sponsoring all activities in our schools.
I would task a Board of Education committee to study school districts in other counties and states as to how they get money.
I would ensure that our BOE actively searches for donations and grants from not only state and federal agencies but also philanthropic organizations.
I would push for a stabilization of health and benefit costs and I would be sure that all of those costs are evaluated yearly.
I would require more justification from the various departments when they submit their yearly budget requests. A line-by-line evaluation has to be completed as we cannot just accept their word for what they need.
I would re-evaluate the use of solar initiatives since not only in our district, but, throughout the country there have been great success stories with the implementation of solar power.
I would ensure that the money and schedule is available for the proper maintenance of all facilities so as to keep repair and energy costs down. We all know that ignoring a small repair now will result in higher costs tomorrow.
I would actively have the BOE investigate the possibility of more shared services with the township.
I would ensure that the schools be more available to outside organizations when school is not in session and that the fees to outside organizations cover the true cost.
Since we have new stadium bleachers, I would look to bring in more outdoor events.
I would look to save energy through proper insulation of our schools. This would require yearly surveys of our facilities.
I would create a system whereby the people working in the buildings can submit requests or information about problems that may affect the operation of classrooms or result in energy loss.
I would utilize the GPS system to evaluate how our busses are being utilized and correct routes and habits to save gas and wear-and-tear.
I would ensure that, when we are offered matching funds, that we take advantage of them and not just let them go to another district because of our inaction.