SCOTCH PLAINS, NJ — Five candidates have registered with Union County Clerk Joanne Rajoppi for the 2020 Scotch Plains-Fanwood School Board elections in November.
Three candidates are vying for the two open Scotch Plains seats on the Board of Education. Incumbents Karen Mitchell and Evan Murray are seeking re-election. Challenger Dr. David Levine has also filed a petition to run for a seat, according to Union County Clerk Joanne Rajoppi's office.
"I am running for the BOE because I believe my voice can be a valuable one for our schools. I have a first-grader at Coles and another one a few years away, and I want their experiences and those of all the students to be the best they can be," said Dr. Levine, a pediatrician. "My background will be of benefit to our community, especially during the pandemic."
"The pandemic has affected every aspect of our lives and how we are going to educate our kids is of primary concern,' Dr. Levine added. "As a physician, I can help the board understand the challenges ahead and be able to educate our community as well. My other focus is on school start times and how, especially in high school, these effect the mental health of our teenagers. The general health, but especially mental health, issues brought about by COVID need to be addressed early and often."
"The safe return of all students to school is the most pressing issue at the school board election," said, Karen Mitchell, a licensed social worker who completed a one-year term after replacing BOE member Cindy Clancy, whose family moved from the district.
"Through my experience on the Board, I have been able to witness, first hand, the layered and complicated process of educating, supporting, and protecting our students, teachers, and staff while following State guidelines for COVID safety," Mitchell added. "This past year has provided me with the information and experience to better understand how, together, we can help students return to the school experience they love and need. If elected, my primary goal is a safe school return."
"I have been a member of the Board for the past 6 years. In that time, we have accomplished a lot of good things. For example, school resource officers in each of our buildings, full day kindergarten, and field lighting to name a few. However, I feel there is still a lot of value that I can continue to add," said Evan Murray. "I am the son and the husband of strong woman who have dedicated their lives to teaching in the public school system, my mother and wife. I want to continue to ensure that the students of Scotch Plains/Fanwood continue to be adequately prepared to enter into the competitive and diverse world by receiving unique, research-based, educational experiences.
"I believe there are two pressing issues that are being addressed. The first is Diversity, Inclusion and Equity. We need to continue to ensure that our schools are a safe and secure learning environment including educational equity where every student has access to the resources regardless of their race, ethnicity or disability," Murray added.
"The second is pressing issue is the COVID-19 pandemic. It has really transformed the way we go about our daily routines and the long term impacts are unknown. What we do know is that there can be no replacement for our traditional schools, however we do need to provide a safe, appropriate teaching/learning experience for all and ensure that the social and emotional needs of the students in our district are met in the best way possible."
One Fanwood seat is on the ballot this fall.
Incumbent Amy Boroff is seeking re-election.
"I am passionate about education. This Fall, I will be participating in my third Strategic Plan in the district and while we have made great strides in areas I am passionate about like Kindness and SEL, Arts Integration and Special Education… I know that the community will help us build on the foundation we have in place to expand and strengthen these areas," Boroff said.
"I anticipate Diversity, Equity, and Social Justice being at the forefront of the conversations taking place in the Fall. Having dedicated three years to serving on the Board of Education, I look forward to working with the community and building on our relationships with town leadership to commit and strengthen our commitment to a safe, equitable and meaningful education for all Scotch Plains Fanwood youth," Boroff added.
Boroff is being challenged by Maggie Savoca, who has also filed a petition to run.
"I'm running to make a difference for the students, families and taxpayers, with the goal of engaging our community more in one of the largest assets," said Savoca, former SPFHA PTO president and a tireless volunteer for many local causes. "Within the new landscape, we need to work together and get innovative to educate our students in the best way possible."
"As everyone knows the global pandemic has affected every area of life. How and where we educate our students affects everyone, the staff at school, their families at home/work, the community at large and the students," Savoca added. "My youngest son will be a junior this year. Junior year is a very important year for students who are college bound. Every year of schooling impacts student outcomes. We need to make decisions and use our resources for the benefit of students."
Election Day is Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2020.
Editor's Note: TAPintoSPF reached out to every candidate to request a statement about why they are running for BOE office.