SOUTH ORANGE, NJ - Elissa Malespina, the former librarian at South Orange Middle School, has announced her candidacy for the South Orange-Maplewood Board of Education.
Malespina is a 19-year resident of South Orange and has one son, Matthew, who will be entering sixth grade at South Orange Middle School in the fall. She is married to Joseph Malespina, a 1994 graduate of Columbia High School and lifelong resident of South Orange.
"We are at a crossroads in this district and we need a Board of Education that will work for the best interests of the children who we ultimately serve," Malespina said in her announcement. "The only way for things to change is for the BOE to work hard at building relationships with all the stakeholders in the district. We need to move away from what has become an us against them mentality, and find a way for all groups to work together in the best interest of the students."
The campaign will be run in conjunction with candidate Donna Smith, who was the first candidate to enter the race.
"Donna and I are very passionate about doing what is best for the students in the South Orange Maplewood School District,” Malespina’s announcement said. “We know that we will not always see eye to eye on every issue but will work hard to make SOMSD the best district possible."
Malespina has spent her career in education, having worked in the district for 9 years before becoming Coordinating Supervisor of Technology for the Parsippany-Troy Hills School District.
Malespina believes the Board of Education needs to do an extensive search for a new superintendent and should not be rushing the process. "I am concerned when I hear that our board hopes to have someone in place before January. A thorough search needs to be conducted and all groups must be heard. I don't want to put a timetable on the process. I want the best candidate possible and we should not be rushing this," she said.
Another key issue she sees in this Board of Education race is district finances. "We face a looming deficit and we need to look at ways to help minimize that, while at the same time giving our children the best education possible. This might mean slowing down the implementation of some of the programs we are looking to put in place like the International Baccalaureate Program. I believe that while some of the philosophies associated with IB are good and should be added to the curriculum, the costs associated with it are just too much right now.”