Friday, October 28, 2016

Meet The Middletown School Board Candidates

Election Day is a mere 12 days away and while you may have already made up your mind about who you will be voting for President, voting for a candidate running for Middletown Board of Education, understandably, is a bit more daunting. There are six candidates seeking election to three seats on the BOE this year. They are Vincent Brand, Donald "DJ" Hager, John Little Jr, Leonora Caminiti, Frank Higgins and Michael Donlon. Brand and Donlon are incumbents seeking re-election.

Over they past ten days Middletown Patch has been running candidate profiles on those seeking seat on the BOE. Below I've compiled the links to the individual candidate profiles (click on their names and the link will take you to the full profile) from the Middletown Patch to make it a little easier for those interested to learn a little about each candidate. I've listed the candidates in the order that their profile was posted to the Patch.

Frank Higgins:
"... If I were to be elected some of the policies I would like to work on include:
  • Fostering a less litigious relationship between parents with special need students and the school administration.
  • Ensure that we are maximizing the technology available while still including the basics.
  • Use my current background in negotiating vendor and supply contracts to help with contracts utilized by the district.
I believe in being open and honest and I will be the first to admit that I may not have all the answers, but I will work hard to help with the concerns of our parents. I do not believe in making empty promises and my ultimate goal is to ensure the Board’s focus is on the students of Middletown. We still have a great school system, I would like to be part of taking it to a new level...."

John Little:
"... I grew up and attended public school in Middletown and now my children are attending school here. I am a University of Notre Dame graduate, a certified public accountant (CPA), a Middletown Township firefighter, a member of the Middletown Township Planning Board (alternate), a member of Middletown Township School District committees, a PTO member, and a coach in multiple youth sports leagues (football, baseball, basketball, and soccer).
I am for maintaining our schools’ high educational standards, but with a healthy sensitivity to the impacts to our children’s overall experience and costs to taxpayers. I value and respect the needs of ALL children, the points of view of ALL parents, the burden to ALL taxpayers, and the tremendous dedication and expertise of ALL of our teachers and administrators..."

Leonora Caminiti:
"... I served on the BOE for 10+ years, as part of several teams. While I certainly didn’t accomplish any one thing by myself, I am proud to say that I was a part of the following:
  • Full day kindergarten
  • Block scheduling at the high school
  • Upgrading and maintenance of buildings
  • One on one technology implementation
  • Two strategic plans
Personally, I am a local business woman and I chair the education committee for the Monmouth County Realtors. I have trained as a NJ School Boards certified board member, and believe my commitment and attendance record was exceptional during the time I served on the Middletown BOE..."

Donald 'DJ' Hager:
"...As a recent graduate of Middletown South, I hope to bring a different perspective to the Board of Education where my experiences will be helpful in making decisions that affect our students as well as give insight to the budget process. Some may ask “Why would a high school graduate want to sit on the Board of Education?”

Here is what I plan to accomplish:
  • A more inclusive environment that surrounds the Board of Education – the governing body of Middletown’s great public school system needs to represent itself better to the community.
  • That important issues such as student safety, facilities, budget and curriculum benefit from detailed analysis and decision making with full participation from the community.
  • Most important of all, that Middletown provides a first class education for all of Middletown’s students.
I began attending Board of Education meetings my junior year and have consistently attended now for more than a year in order to stay up to speed with the happenings of our district. I’m currently a member of the Facilities & Long Term Planning committee in which we’re currently analyzing all of our schools facility needs and concerns to optimize the quality of education for our students..."

Michael Donlon:

"... I am a 15 year Middletown resident and have been involved with the Board of Education since 2009. I am a graduate of the School of Business at Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey and a 32 year veteran of the United States Postal Service where I serve as the Sr. Manager, Operations Integration....

... Helping our community grow in educating our students needs to be a top priority with the end result of placing Middletown as the best place to raise and educate a child in New Jersey."

Vincent Brand:
"... I have co-chaired the shared services committee that has rejuvenated the relationship between Township Committee and BOE. This has resulted in building beautiful new fields for our schools, improved purchasing power, opened up high school fields for community sports teams to rent and led initiatives on recycling and waste removal savings. In addition, we've helped build a strong, stable Central office, repaired and improved schools from new roofing to new curriculum, added sports like lacrosse, improved community relations and helped to hire the best teachers, coaches and staff in all of NJ. We've done this while trimming budget surpluses from over 8 million to 1 AND delivering budgets that are within 2 percent, many of them close to 1 percent increases. We've also built new pathways for high school students, improved our network capabilities and purchased new chrome books for our students. During my service the BOE has built a new website for improved community relations, repaired the High School North track and scheduled to repair South track, improved our theaters and our school security. We have also fought for improved transparency by finally getting our BOE to allow the public to be a part of our decision making in the form of the Committee of the whole. No more secret committees that are shielded from public scrutiny. These are your kids, your schools and your tax dollars and I believe strongly in the open meeting..."

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