WEST MILFORD Five candidates are vying for three seats on the West Milford Board of Education next Tuesday. Two incumbents - John Aiello and Greg Bailey - are seeking reelection along with three challengers. The Messenger asked each candidate to submit personal information as well as a statement and photo. What follows is that information as submitted to the paper.
John Aiello Age: 70 Education: Rockland Community College Associate Degree in Business; Moody Bible Institute 12 teaching credits
Profession: Real Estate Income Properties; Numismatic Promotions and Collectibles
Family Information: Married to Shoira; Children: John Jr 49, Jennifer 48, James 45, and Gianni 7
Volunteer Activities: Three-year trustee West Milford School Board; March of Dimes chairman, Sustainable West Milford and former trustee West Milford Library
West Milford has been my home since my childhood years. It has been the background and setting of most of my life experiences and blessings. I have been self employed in my own businesses for over 50 years. From slinging pizzas to now doing business with over 100 countries, I have gained a broad prospective and knowledge that can provide another dimension to the matters that come before the board.
I seek another term on the West Milford School Board because I can not sit by knowing that some of my neighbors can not afford to live in West Milford any longer because of the taxes, or a parent or school employee may be mistreated or a child may be a pawn of politics or privilege.
If re-elected, my goals for the next three years would be to first establish an attitude of respect and civility towards everyone regardless of their point of view or position. I would encourage a productive forum where everyone can express their opinions and ideas. This is the preamble of a thorough and efficient education. More than this, it is democracy.
Kevin Babbitt Age: 44 Education: Graduated from The College of New Jersey in 1990 with a BA in English
Profession: Mortgage Investigations
Family Information: Married to Marcie Babbitt; three children, Riley, 12, Patrick, 10 and Molly, 8.
Volunteer Activities: Coached in the baseball, softball, basketball and soccer programs for West Milford; volunteered with our schools PTA events and fundraisers.
Though I have never previously sought elected office, I am confident that my experience as a business professional and an avid volunteer in West Milford will give me a great perspective as a board trustee. I am a concerned father, resident, and taxpayer running to make our schools better for all parties involved.
The most important issue for the board of education to tackle is the selection of a new superintendent of schools. I plan to actively participate in this process by rigorously screening candidates and making an informed decision on who is the best fit for West Milford. I seek a superintendent who will recognize the needs of our diverse student population, encourage our staff to continue to bring innovative teaching methods to our classrooms, and provide a long-term vision for continued academic improvement in West Milford. I want an educational leader who will not only demand nothing but the best from our students and staff, but who will exude pride in our community and utilize a hands-on approach in managing our district.
If elected, I will maintain a professional and respectful demeanor with my fellow board members, an open and honest relationship with the public, and a high level of accountability with all stakeholders. Nothing would make me prouder than to see continued improvement in our test scores, expansion in our technological initiatives, and the escalation of our district to among the elite in New Jersey. I pledge to use my abilities and experiences to bring that dream to fruition over the next three years.
Greg Bailey Age: 54 Education: Lakeland Regional High School, bachelor's degree University of Georgia
Profession: Supervisor of Haskell Paving, Inc., family-owned and operated paving firm
Family Information: Wife Karen, four grown children - all went through West Milford public school system
Volunteer Activities: 16-year school board member; member of the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Associations Executive Committee; longtime high school varsity football, basketball, baseball and softball official; advocate for athletic programs
I have been a resident of West Milford for 31 years and have served on the Board of Education since 1996, first to a one-year term. I have been re-elected five consecutive times, giving me 16 years of experience. I have been chairman of the Budget and Finance Committee since 2003 and work diligently with my colleagues to ensure that your tax dollars are being spent efficiently and effectively. I have always supported the school budget, working to ensure that our children have the necessary financial support to achieve their goals.
As a trustee, I have participated in the interviews, reviews, and approvals of hiring three district superintendents and am currently involved in the search for a new superintendent. My goal is to hire a new superintendent as soon as possible who will bring long-term leadership and a vision for continued improvement of our schools. I initiated the effort and wholeheartedly supported the field turf installation on McCormack Field. I organized the effort to fundraise and install permanent lighting on this field, which services our high school athletes as well as our youth sports programs. I also organized the effort to purchase and place Automatic Emergency Defibrillators (AEDs) in every district school and building. Through my business, I have donated labor, equipment, and supervision to complete asphalt resurfacing of the high school gymnasium parking lot, the Ron Dygos Field parking lot behind Macopin School, and the access road to the Administration Building. I also installed water drainage pipes and an electrical conduit on Munson Field behind the high school.
I hope to have your support at the polls on April 17. It has been my privilege to serve you and I look forward to the opportunity to continue to better West Milfords schools for our children.
Inga Koeppe Age: 45 Education: Glen Ridge High School, Glen Ridge, NJ; Arizona State University, BA Theatre
Profession: Video production business for the pharmaceutical industry
Family Information: Husband Jack, two children, Wyatt, 9, Sierra, 6.
Volunteer Activities: Board trustee for the West Milford Education Foundation; member of the Paradise Knoll PTA
With two young children attending Paradise Knoll, I am an ardent supporter of the West Milford School District. Over the last several years, I have been actively involved in the PK PTA as the liaison to the West Milford Parents Association - a group that meets regularly along with the superintendent of schools to further educational goals and work collaboratively to resolve pertinent issues confronting the district.
As an elected member of board of education, I have three primary goals. First is to enhance the boards performance and stability. In recent times the interests of the schools and taxpayers have been compromised by unnecessary strife and conflict. While unanimous agreement on every issue is not a practical expectation, there are better methods and behaviors that can be employed to ensure the board is operating at peak effectiveness. I pledge to do my part to create a more harmonious and functional board via a professional, collaborative and courteous leadership style.
My second goal is to continuously improve academic achievement. I will promote and support actions that foster a culture of continuous improvement of academic achievement and test scores. I recognize the critical need for the district to attract and hire a well-qualified superintendent. Moving this process forward and bringing it to a successful conclusion will be a top priority.
Finally, I promise to deliver maximum value and efficiency to the taxpayer. As a homeowner, I care greatly about where and how our hard-earned tax dollars are being spent. Taxpayers can count on me to diligently review and fairly challenge the school budget. I will ask the right questions and, when necessary, make the tough calls to promote financial efficiency and ensure taxpayers and students alike are not short changed.
Adrienne Shanler Age: 64 Education: B.S. Zoology, University of Massachusetts-Amherst; M.S. Cell Biology Western Kentucky University; Master of Library Science Rutgers University
Profession: Reference Librarian and Patent Searcher
Volunteer Activities: EMT and volunteer with Ringwood Ambulance Corps; Maine Coon Rescue
In my view, the Board of Education has two goals: to educate the students and to budget wisely. My goals include enhancing the basic skills in reading and arithmetic of the students; increase awareness and prevention of all forms of bullying as well as consequences for the offender(s); look for alternatives to solving problems; and be a watchdog for the taxpayer. The education budget comes from your pocket and mine, be it local or government grants. That money ultimately comes from our taxes. Taxpayers financial resources are finite. Grants from private foundations are not tax-funded.