Dear Piscataway Community,
Please vote to keep independent voices on the Township Board of Education. Please fill out and mail back or 'drop off' your ballots before Tues. Nov. 3rd. We're in the home stretch! Please vote for our Team, Column 2 "Putting Kids First" CONNORS, CHERRY, & SCOTTO. We're dedicated to serving you, our community, and we're the experienced proven leaders! The following is the opinion of private citizens Dr. Tom CONNORS, Shantell CHERRY, and Zoe SCOTTO. We do not speak for the Board of Education.
In addition to keeping our schools healthy and safe, being good stewards of taxpayer dollars, and making sure our board members are accessible and responsive.....
Here are the FOUR Key Issues we'll continue to advance:
1. Mental Health: We promote a 'stigma free' environment and our team will address the social and emotional well being of our students and school community - especially now with remote learning. The wait for The Haven is very long, and our schools must do more to ensure that our students aren’t “Zoomed” out from long days in front of their devices. We hear concerns from parents that students feel isolated. While there are no easy answers, other districts have implemented shorter days, some half days and other breaks to give students, families and staff a bit of a rest. We also want to hear from the Administration about the breaks being given during the day. Protecting emotional health is important even while we protect everyone’s physical health by learning remotely, especially our younger kindergarten and special needs students and families. Shantell and I have brought issues to the board around mental health, hunger, and inclusion for all students. We have written resolutions and promoted solutions that helped ensure none of our kids are hungry during school and declared Piscataway a mental heath stigma free environment! We need more ‘tween’ parent support specifically when students transition from a middle school to the High School.
2. Empower students and families: We need better communication between students and families and our district. We want folks to keep asking questions and engage with school governance through BOE members. Our curriculum needs to reflect our student population and their needs; students should have more involvement and engagement in course development. This is an area Zoe SCOTTO is particularly interested in advancing. Freshman Seminar and Freshman Seminar Mentor Course which provides transition support.
3. Advocate for more School State Aid: This is almost 20% of our $120 million annual budget. Dr. Tom CONNORS has chaired our district’s Fiscal Operations and Planning committee since 2014 and it’s imperative to keep up with State Fiscal matters and the laws that dictate school aid, especially now during the pandemic where tax collections may drop. He also has the distinction as Chair of the New Jersey School Boards Association (NJSBA) School Finance Committee. When school board members take the time to understand the complex school aid formula, their district wins and gets the money they’re entitled to under the School Funding Reform Act of 2008. In 2018, Tom helped get an extension of SFRA, S2 passed in the NJ legislature via NJSBA Legislative Committee and we now have a commitment to give gradual increases to districts like Piscataway who were underfunded in the past because the money did not follow the student. The result is that we went from flat funding to getting steady increase because of our State involvement in this issue. We we are finally getting near what the formula says we deserve. The result in turn then helps our district keep a steady workforce of quality teachers and support staff without fears of big cuts or big tax increases down the road. We are proud to have good relations with Piscataway teachers union.
4. Encourage Innovation and Critical thinking: We demand Academic Excellence in our Educational System! Teaching critical thinking skills will always be a priority for Tom, Shantell and Zoe. Shantell CHERRY currently chairs the Curriculum and Program Committee. We must teach our students to think - that’s essential to what will help them get through any situation they are faced with whether they leave Piscataway or stay here to raise their families. We are not afraid to think big and take on tough issues. Unlike Column 1, the “Better, Safer Schools” folks haven’t done a thing to strengthen our district, we recognize that our Board can lead.
Please Vote! Elections have consequences!
When we all contribute a little, we all achieve a lot!
Tom Connors, Shantell Cherry, Zoe Scotto