As it has done in past years, the West Milford Democratic Club hosted an open to the public forum for Board of Education candidates.Last year seven of the eight candidates attended.This year three of the five candidates and 22 residents attended. John Aiello, Greg Bailey and Adrienne Shanler attended while Kevin Babbitt and Inga Koeppe did not.
The two-hour event at Momento's Restaurant gave us a good opportunity to learn about the goals, backgrounds and personalities of the three candidates.
I was particularly impressed by the responses of Adrienne Shanler and John Aiello to 15 questions from the audience.
I had not previously had discussions with Adrienne on school topics, a newcomer to board of education issues, or with John, who I have known for decades.Audience questions dealt with the role of phonics in early reading instruction, science and math education in later grades, the addition of full-day kindergarten, teacher evaluation, selection of substitute teachers, race discrimination in hiring, superintendent qualifications, the school budget, and drug problems in our schools.
Adrienne had thoughtful and creative responses on every issue, as she had spoken to parents, teachers and children in our school system in order to learn from their diverse view-points.For over 25 years she has been a Red Cross first aid and CPR instructor, teaching knowledge and skills to ambulance squad volunteers. She would foster anti-bullying programs in school, on the playground and in cyberspace.Her ideas on the 15 questions asked were fresh and constructive, and she would add a wealth of new blood to the board. Her enthusiasm about bringing improvements to West Milford's school system was bubbling over.
John has been a school board member for the past few years, has had three children in West Milford schools, and now has a granddaughter in the Marshall Hill School.He had thought in depth and detail about the above issues, and would have liked twice as much time to respond as the time-keeper gave him.John showed interest and concern that the best possible education should be provided to the town's children, and that all possible solutions should be discussed when school problems arise. He also wanted improved functioning of future school boards by having open and civil discussions, without the politics that have gotten in the way during some past school board meetings.
Based on an interesting and lively discussion among those present atMomento's, I will definitely vote for Adrienne Shanler and John Aiello on April 17, and I encourage others to join me in those votes.I strongly suggest that voters learn about the backgrounds and goals of the school board candidates, and base their votes on that qualitative information.Votes should not be based on the number of road-signs, the number of newspaper support letters, or the number of negative letters about others. The West Milford Board of Education needs members who have thought deeply and carefully about the needs of our school system, and how to improve the children's education.
Doris Aaronson West Milford