Voters shoulld research candidates

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To the Editor:

First, these are my opinions and observations and, although I am a sitting School Board Trustee, I am speaking only on my own behalf and not on behalf of the board.

I feel that the voters should be fully informed so that they can make the best selections possible for their children and our community.

Our children should be provided with as many tools and opportunities to succeed in life as we are able to provide; and we should make our best efforts to prevent unnecessary difficulties and roadblocks for our students, such as bullying or an oppressive school climate.

We need the best possible school board trustees and administrators to make decisions and guide administrators with the students as their top priority and to be fiscally responsible to make the most of the district's financial resources for the students and so that taxpayers are not unduly burdened.

In November, West Milford residents have the opportunity to choose the best three of seven candidates.

I urge West Milford residents to vote without relying upon name recognition.

I cannot speak about most of the candidates, but I can provide my observations and opinions regarding the two incumbent candidates, Greg Bailey and Teresa Dwyer having served with them over the last three years.

Greg Bailey:

1. Greg has a serious attendance problem to which he admitted during a public meeting.

In the time that I’ve been on the Board, he has missed a lot of the behind-the-scenes meetings (executive sessions, superintendent interviews and committees) in which trustees learn much of the information that is most important for making well informed decisions for the District.

2. Mr. Bailey's apparent focus is on sports to the exclusion of most else.

He appears to support everything else that the administration suggests with little scrutiny in order to ingratiate himself for the times when he wants to argue for athletic spending.

3. When trying to solicit my vote for a poorly suited candidate for board president who he could manipulate, he offered me the position of vice president and, by way of implication that he would not oppose me in trying to improve the high school climate, he commented that he didn't care about the high school since his kid was no longer in it.

4. He votes without being well informed, and often votes based upon how much he likes or dislikes the person or persons making or supporting a motion, rather than the merits of the issue or idea.

An example that comes to mind was a motion brought shortly after the Parkland, Florida shooting to request school resource officers (police assigned to the schools) for the middle and high schools.

Greg was the only trustee to vote against that request for school security.

5. While Mr. Bailey bloviates well, he appears to do it for personal aggrandizement.

On one occasion he began a grandstanding speech, then abruptly broke off when he realized that there were no spectators at the meeting.

6. Finally, Mr. Bailey boasts of many years on the board. However, what has happened in that time? Has the quality of education and the tax burden gotten better or worse during his tenure?

Teresa Dwyer:

1. After what appeared to be a promising beginning, she grew ambitious to be a board officer and caught the bug for politics.

2. Teri has difficulty hearing ideas differing from her own and refuses to engage in collegial discussion of serious issues in the district.

3. Although her background as a teacher allows her to make contributions in committee, I believe that she lacks the moral courage while voting to stand up for beliefs expressed behind the scenes, and her voting appears largely politically motivated, favoring popularity over what may be best for students or the district.

We need trustees who will have the strength to do the right thing for students and taxpayers (in that order) especially when it is difficult, as those are usually the times when the decisions have the most impact.

4. With the exception of test scores, Mrs. Dwyer seems to find it nearly impossible to recognize or acknowledge any negative aspects of the district. Since the first step in solving a problem is to recognize and admit that it exists, this is a problem.

5. She has been known to make faces when parents and concerned community members speak to the board about real concerns and problems with the schools, and is likely to dismiss them, seeing their information and criticism of the district as an attack rather than an attempt to obtain help.

6. Mrs. Dwyer tends to identify with administrators and teachers, and not students, tending to blindly accept the administration's viewpoints. and suggestions rather than encouraging administrators to be empathetic and seriously consider the viewpoints of students, parents and residents.

A school board trustee, charged with assuring that the district is well run, must be willing and able to recognize the good aspects of the district as well as the bad.

Since recognizing a problem is the first step to fixing it, we need people who will see the district clearly and take steps to make it better.

When the district was recently hit with a large reduction in our state aid, and in the face of steadily declining enrollment, both of these trustees voted to increase taxes and continued spending on things unrelated to education.

The quality of the schools is integral to the desirability of West Milford to families, which in turn effects property values along with tax rates.

This election will decide whether a new board majority can be established that will prioritize academics and improvement of school climate rather than simply rubber-stamping administrative recommendations.

After serving side by side with these incumbents, it is my opinion that neither Mr. Bailey nor Mrs. Dwyer have demonstrated the qualities needed to shepherd the district through the upcoming financial difficulties while maintaining and improving academic quality in our schools.

I recommend that you try to identify independent thinkers that are open to sharing of ideas, with experience and skills that will benefit the district, who don't have personal agendas or political goals and, most importantly, who will make creation of a positive educational experience for students in a safe environment the top priority in their decision making.

Glenn Huber

West Milford

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