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: Susan Suter
Current Age : (No answer provided.)
Current Occupation: Dental Assistant
Highest Level of Education Achieved (optional: include degree/institution)
Attended University of South Carolina (Columbia, SC) and Keystone Junior College (Laplume, PA), Dental Assistant Certification; Dental Radiology License
Are you employed by a public school district?
Have you ever previously held an elected office in Brick or elsewhere?
Yes, currently a Board of Education Member
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?
As a member of the current Board of Education,facility improvements were prioritized by academic need and safety. Approximately $2.7 million was spent to renovate BTHS Science Labs to offer students a more challenging curriculum. Safety was given top priority when deciding which facility improvements to complete. To name a few projects completed/approved without additional funds from taxpayers are replacing BTHS bleachers which were not structurally sound; installing a new track at BMHS track since it was condemned; replacing window balances at LRMS; installing a dehumidification system at the EEC to avoid mold; installing new emergency lighting and exit signs at VMMS.
I would continue prioritizing facility improvements by academic needs and safety moving forward. The cost to hold an election for a referendum is approximately $80,000. Due to the economic times, I do not believe a referendum is in the best interest of the community. This Board of Education is continuously working toward staying within the $144 million budget while improving curriculum and buildings.
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?
Modifying the 4X4 block within both High Schools is crucial in providing a rigorous education for each student. Offer classes, like Math and World Language, on an A/B schedule so they run all year long and there are no long gaps between blocks. Scheduling A/P classes every other day would allow students the opportunity to take more electives or additional A/P classes. Initiating the one-on-one laptop for every High School Senior will engage students in the classroom and enhance instruction. Altering the master schedule will allow more flexibility for each student’s needs. The District should also be creating their own assessments to ensure students are retaining content material.
Students need to be competitive locally, nationally and globally whether applying for college, a trade school or the workforce.
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?
Brick School District needs to take the initiative and implement programs that are beneficial to the students. We should not wait for the State to mandate adding a new program or revising a curriculum. Numerous studies on full day Kindergarten show instilling education early improves student performance. A demographic study will be underway in the District and the outcome of that study will result in where we need to allocate additional funds to implement full day Kindergarten.
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?
School Districts need to come up with ways to generate revenue other than the taxpayer.
Locating sponsors, advertising in schools, and hosting indoor and outdoor sports tournaments are a few ways to raise funds. However, we need to be fiscally responsible and work within the budget. Realizing the importance of increasing the standards in the curriculum and repairing our facilities while staying within our budget is a goal of this Board member now and for the next three years. This past year, I voted for a 0% tax increase and to give back $1.3 million to the taxpayers. With those two decisions, numerous facility projects have been completed/approved and positive changes are occurring in curriculum.