It is interesting to note that some of the candidates who attended the candidates' forum sponsored by the Henry Hudson Regional Education Association on Tuesday (March 23rd) evening really did not do their homework prior to addressing those who attended this informative public event.
For instance, Atlantic Highlands candidate Michail Salazaar-Linden, suggested that the regional school band should come to the "Atlantic Highlands Harbor" and perform for the community. Ms.Salazaar-Linden's statement was in response to a question on how Henry Hudson's image could be improved within the community. Where has Ms. Salazaar-Linden been? The Henry Hudson Regional school band has been performing at the gazeebo at the Atlantic Highlands Harbor for more than 35 years. Their concerts are so popular that former Atlantic Highlands Councilman and current Henry Hudson Regional School Board member Art Weimer worked with Henry Hudson students to construct a seating area at the gazeebo for 100 people so our residents could enjoy these concerts.
Had Ms. Salazaar-Linden familiarized herself with the district before announcing her candidacy she would have learned that our high school band already performs at the Atlantic Highlands Municipal Harbor.
They also participate in the annual Highlands St. Patrick's Day Parade, the Atlantic Highlands and Highlands Christmas Tree Lighting celebrations and they perform in both of the annual Memorial Day Parades in both Highlands and Atlantic Highlands. Further, the Henry Hudson band also performs in two additional concerts yearly with the Atlantic Highlands and Highlands School Districts. Senior citizens from both communities are bussed to Henry Hudson so that they can enjoy these concerts. The same is done with high school musical productions.
During this public forum Ms. Salazaar-Linden also made mention of the need for "strategic planning" for the school district. I agree with her and would suggest to her that "strategic planning" has been a very important part of the the Henry Hudson Regional Board of Education's governance policy for 20 years. Many people have worked long and hard to bring Henry Hudson where it is today by using this process. Sure there could be more improvement, but we have to make due with what the senior citizens and hardworking middle- class taxpayers' in both Atlantic Highlands and Highlands can afford to pay. Lets face it, the money is NOT coming from the state of New Jersey.
Like Ms. Salazaar-Linden, Highlands board candidate Russell Card never thought to attend a meeting of the Henry Hudson Regional Board of Education before becoming a candidate to represent his respective community. While this is not a requirement to become a board candidate, or board member, one would think that a perspective candidate would attend a meeting before declaring their candidacies.
When Mr.Card was asked to grade the Henry Hudson Regional Board of Education by the forum's moderator he gave the board of education a C-. How would he know since he has never attended a meeting of the Henry Hudson Regional Board of Education? However, when Mr. Card rated the teachers he gave them an A+++. It is the board of education who gives the resources to the district's teacher's through our local tax dollars.
One would have to conclude that Mr.Card's grading system does not make a bit of sense.
Ms.Salazaar-Linden and Mr.Card are both educators in Monmouth County Districts. Should they be elected in the April 20th School elections the majority of the nine-member Henry Hudson Board of Education will consist of teachers. Yes, there should be teachers on the board. However, the Henry Hudson board has always been diverse in the members the district voters have elected to serve them. It is important to have a parent, a businessperson, a senior citizen and experienced board members along with teachers on the board to insure that the system works. This is what makes Henry Hudson the unique district that it has become.
I commend both Ms. Salazaar-Linden and Mr.Card for offering themselves as candidates for the Henry Hudson Regional Board of Education. I know first hand how hard administrators, parents, students, teachers, the community and past and present Henry Hudson Board members have labored to make Henry Hudson the institution it is today. But, Ms.
Salazaar-Linden and Mr.Card must realize that an elected school board member represents ALL in the community, including; the taxpaying public,, students, senior citizens on fixed incomes, teachers, the business community, school administrators, support staff, citizens who send their children to private schools and families on the lower, middle and upper spectrum of the socio-economic ladder. Hidden agendas, if so exist, have no place in the realm of public education.
In closing, I would like for Mr.Card to know that the members of the Henry Hudson Board of Education, the district's teachers, support staff, administration and P.T.O. actually all derserve and A for the hard work all of them do. They all may disagree at times over labor and educational issues, however, all have the district's interests at heart.
In particular, the board members, who labor late into the night week after week in an effort to offer the best and most innovative educational policies, while keeping within strict budget constraints and keeping in mind the citizens ability to pay for it. Unlike other elected officials, school board members are not compensated for their work.They are the REAL heroes in our great democracy!
Atlantic Highlands, NJ
Mr. Hawley is a past member of the Atlantic Highlands and Henry Hudson Regional Boards of Education and brother-in-law to candidate Art Weimer.