My name is Helen Kirsch and I am seeking reelection to the Berkeley Heights Board of Education. My three children Michele, Michael and Stephen and I myself are all proud GL graduates and my two grandchildren Julia and Max now in Middle and Grammar school are following in our footsteps. I was very involved with the PTA while my children were in school. My endeavors with the PTA were the path that led me to running for the Board of Education.
When first elected to the Board we were in a state of flux. Facing a declining enrollment the Board had recently closed Hamilton Terrace School reassigning those students to Hughes and Mountain Park. Should that building be needed as a school in the future, the decision was made to rent the building rather than sell it. As a small K-8 district our high school students attended Governor Livingston Regional High School, one of four high schools in Union County Regional High School District No. 1. The Regional District had a common curriculum for all four schools and the cost per pupil was very high. As president of the Board when the opportunity arose I guided our district through the de-regionalization process. After three arduous years Governor Livingston became part of the Berkeley Heights School District. We now could tailor the curriculum and our cost per pupil dropped dramatically. In fact, our cost per high school pupil today is still more than $1000.00 less than what we were paying to the Regional District twenty two years ago.
Other accomplishments during my tenure include the re-opening of Hamilton Terrace as an early childhood center, known today as MKM Early Childhood Center, affording our early learners a state of the art learning experience, Columbia Junior High became Columbia Middle School expanding educational opportunities for our sixth graders, multiple additions and facility upgrades to our buildings, and the hiring of administrative staff, support staff and teachers that through their dedication to the children of Berkeley Heights have created one of the top school districts in the state.
My BOE endeavors have reached beyond the borders of Berkeley Heights. What started as a BOE liaison assignment to Union County Educational Services Commission some 26 years ago has remained an assignment I embrace. I still serve on that board and have been president for the last 12 years. I am on the executive committee of the Union County School Boards Association and served as a member of the New Jersey School Boards Association Board of Directors. In 2015 I was honored to be chosen New Jersey’s School Board Member of the year.
I am employed by The County of Union as Assistant Director of Paratransit. We provide transportation to the senior, disabled and/or economically disadvantaged population of Union County. Our goal is to provide a degree of independence when driving is not an option. In 2017 UC Paratransit was recognized as system of the year by the Council of Special Transportation. I was named administrator of the year in 2010 and in recognition of my service to community transportation programs throughout the state I received the Reilly Award in 2014. This award was established in 1984 and there have been only 14 recipients recognized to date
My roots are in Berkeley Heights and my family and I take great pride in our community. Serving on the board is my way of giving back and I pay it forward by setting that example. I am very proud of the many volunteer endeavors my family is involved in throughout the town..
I look forward to your continuing support. Vote column 1 on November 5th.