BAYONNE, NJ - The overwhelming victory of the “Together We Can” slate in the Board of Education election sets the stage for the body to move forward on a number of initiatives, said Vice President Christopher Munoz.
“I never expected the margin of victory we achieved,” Munoz told TAPinto Bayonne.
While the victory set precedent with Munoz becoming the first BOE member to win three consecutive terms and David Watson the first African American to be elected, it also solidifies their majority on the board and will allow them to push ahead with an aggressive agenda over the next year.
Munoz said they all have a common goal to improve the schools and make sure the kids are taken care of. “We have to keep our finances in order,” Munoz said. “We improved our finances over the last year and we want to continue that.”
He said careful management by the board has lowered the tax rate associated with the schools from a little over 5 percent to about one percent. “We’re trying not to cause the taxes to rise,” Munoz added. “We are making improvements to the school district while at the same time being conscious of the taxes.”
The body will also continue to fight for the district's fair share of funding from the state, he said, offering that “We don’t get all the state aid we are entitled to."
COVID-19 poses additional obstacles.
“Opening the schools is a huge challenge,” Munoz said. “We need to do it safely and protect the staff and the students.” This means installing plexiglass and stockpile PPE. “Safety is our first priority,” he said.
The new board will also have to deal with labor contracts. This is the last year on the contracts for teachers and administrators. “We’d like to have the new contracts settled before the old one runs out,” he said.
The goal is to keep the employees satisfied.
“A happy worker is a productive worker,” Munoz concluded. “And we have to respect teachers as professionals. We want to keep our home-grown teacher in Bayonne and not have them go to other districts.”
“I think these candidates worked very hard in a challenging environment,” said Assemblyman Nick Chiaravalloti, who along with Davis, steered the powerful political machine behind the ticket.
“These candidates liked each other and worked well together,” Chiaravalloti said, noting that COVID-19 restrictions kept them from engaging in classic campaigns. “There were no rallies, or events that could bring them together with people.”
But on an educational policy side, they, along with their colleagues on the board, have the opportunity to carry through on progress they have previously started – including in technology and curriculum.
“It indicates that people are satisfied with what the board has been doing,” Chiaravalloti said. “They want to keep the progress going.”
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