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 : John Barton
Current Age : 52
Current Occupation: (No answer provided.)
Are you employed by a public school district?
(No answer provided.)
Highest Level of Education Achieved (optional: include degree/institution) :
The Richard Stockton College of New Jersey
Georgian Court University
Have you ever previously held an elected office in Brick or elsewhere?
(No answer provided.)
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 in favor of allowing the public to voice their opinions as to what the district’s facilities needs may be. Currently, the BOE has spent over ten million dollars without a referendum, and none of the facility improvements that are currently in the works has anything to do with curriculum that is tested on the state level. I do believe that money should be spent to improve facilities so that the environment in Math and English classes are more conducive to learning.
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?
This is goal #3, # 4 and #5 of the Superintendent’s Merit and Compensation Goals for 2012-2013 so consider it already done.
Goal #3: By May 1, 2013, the Superintendent will develop a plan for early identification of and early intervention with children who may be at risk for not passing the third grade NJASK reading levels. The plan will be based on proven strategies and be implemented and monitored. In the 2012-2013 year, with the goal of increasing the number of third grade students passing Language Arts from 69.5% to 73.5% in 2013, a 4% increase for general education will be realized as evidenced by the 2012-2013 NJASK Spring assessment.
“Goal #4: Increase the number of AP classes offered at both high schools by a total of three (3) classes in each school.”
“Goal #5: Increase the total number of students taking AP classes by 8% for the 2012-2013 school year.”
These are my thoughts of what the policy should be like that would work to improve academics in Brick Schools.
All last year, I opposed the technology chair’s position on having laptops purchased solely for high school students. I voiced my opinion that advancements in using technology in elementary and middle school levels would help to increase the numbers, and advance proficient scores in the lower grades. I even contacted all of the school’s PTA groups to tell everyone what was going on and to encourage more involvement from the community. The millions of dollars being spent on laptops should be divided more equally around the district’s lower grades too. Technology is not the only area that is lacking in Brick Schools. Comparing Brick to other schools , I notice a much lower rate of Advance Proficient Score on the NJASK.
If you don’t make academic improvements in lower grades first, there is more of a need to offer, C level classes at the HS’s to take the students in Honors and AP classes that are not doing their homework out of those programs and moving them back to regular A and B or C level classes. You have to start at the elementary level to make use of High School Honor and AP classes because right now most of the students in the Honor and AP classes have a false sense of their ability to be academically competitive with others their own age.
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?
You have already been informed from the Superintendent that there will be full day kindergarten. The district is also, presently, undergoing a state mandated evaluation too. At meetings during that start of the school year it was publically announced that there will be full day kindergarten next year. For a few years there has been cost analysis, discussed publically, to show the expenses and the savings of utilizing all of the building but expanding the kindergarten program to full day.
A certain Board member has already been a proponent of full day kindergarten for a few years now, but that doesn’t prove public outcry. Again, the community should be given an opportunity to voice their opinions, goal #2 of the superintendents Merit and Compensation Goals; “Goal #2: Implement a communication plan that actively informs and involves the home, community and schools as partners.”
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?
The schools should be inviting to the community and the residents should feel proud to have ownership in the decisions made by the school board. The Board of Education should work on making compromised decisions with the public , at public committee meetings, that will benefit the students to the fullest without overspending or careless spending.