BLOOMFIELD, NJ - Emily M. Smith is an incumbent in the November Board of Education race. She was first elected to serve on the board in 2005 after an unsuccessful bid in 2004. According to Smith, when she was elected in 2005, the board had historically been comprised of citizens from the north end of town. Smith moved to Bloomfield in 1999 and purchased a home on the Southside. She was re-elected to the board in 2012 and currently serves as its President. Smith is a graduate of Greenwich High School in Connecticut. There were 925 students in her graduation class and her favorite singers her senior year were Janis Ian and Carol King.
TAPinto Bloomfield interviewed Emily August 23
TAP: What is one thing the voters would be surprised to learn about you?
EMS: Voters would be surprised to know that a story about a homicide that I wrote in the late ‘80s while a police reporter in Jersey City was reported to be the inspiration the the Richard Price book and Spike Lee movie “Clockers”. Also, I was raised in a converted barn in Connecticut.
TAP: What is the No. 1 reason you decided to run again for a seat on the Board of Education?
EMS: I decided to run because we are in a very good place and I want to be sure we stay in a very good place. We’ve had a lot of upheaval in the past due to changes in board membership and superintendents; which creates great disruption in the schools. I want to continue serving on the board because I have valuable history with the board that will serve students and taxpayers going forward.
TAP: As a parent of a high school student what change would you like to see at the high school in the upcoming school year?
EMS: I have two children; Rosalie graduated from Bloomfield High and will be a junior in college in September. My youngest, Nina, is a sophomore at Bloomfield High. From what I see, I like what is going in Nina’s classes and how she is progressing academically. No changes based on my personal experience with my daughters.
TAP: As a citizen and homeowner, what do you think is the greatest asset of the Township of Bloomfield?
EMS: Bloomfield’s greatest asset is its great sense of community and proximity to Manhattan’s entertainment and job prospects. Entertainment in Bloomfield could be improved.
TAP: As a citizen, what has been your biggest contribution to the Township/Community?
EMS: To be honest I spend so much time on the Board of Ed, I haven’t had time for much else.
TAP: What is your No. 1 quality that makes you stand out from the other 4 candidates? How would you complete the statement: I am the only candidate who….
EMS: I am the only candidate who has the determination and tenacity to stick with an issue that I believe needs to be and can be resolved in a collaborative way.
TAP: Bloomfield has seen a great deal of residential development in the last several years. The Parkway Lofts, the Green, Avalon, and development on the old Hartz-Mountain property have brought hundreds of new residents to town. Another new building is being built on the Ferrand Street parking lot. How should Bloomfield Schools plan for the potential increase in enrollment from these and other potential developments?
EMS: It’s not only more and more development coming into town there is also less and less ratable money going to the BOE. That is shown in our tax bill. The education portion is now higher than the municipal portion, due to the loss of rateables that have not been replaced.
TAP: What one idea do you have to increase flow of info from District to parents and community and flow of ideas/feedback from parents/community back to the District?
EMS: This is an idea I have worked on is now in place. We have two local print newspapers: Bloomfield Life and The Independent Press. I recognized that we needed to improve communications so I reached out to both print newspaper editors about their interest in running a monthly column from our superintendent about the state of education in Bloomfield schools. The Superintendent’s column will begin running in September. It will also be available to anyone who is interested in publishing the column. I suggested this to Superintendent Goncalves as a means to improve and more accurately communicate the multitude of good things happening in our Bloomfield schools and to more accurately express the manner in which problems and issues are being handled.
TAP: As a candidate what do you think is the No. 1 challenge facing the school District in the next 3 years?
EMS: I think it is always going to be funding or lack thereof.
TAP: Bloomfield School District passed a “Safe Routes to School” resolution which made the Board and citizens more aware of the importance of safety for students. The Bloomfield Health Department is also creating “Travel Plans” with funding from Easy Ride. What one specific idea do you have to encourage more students to bike and walk to school.
EMS: Right now we have a lot of children who do walk to school at the elementary level. We have bussing if the student lives more than a mile from school. I think we have a lot in place. The issue with biking is setting up storage for the bikes without impeding on staff parking.
TAP: Where do you stand regarding the importance of athletics and extra-curricular activities in the overall school curriculum? Very Important, Somewhat Important, Not Important. Why?
EMS: Very important for two reasons 1. Exercise and physical activity for athletic activities 2. Social. Athletics and Extra-curricular activities, whether they involve music, theatre or art, help students build community within their schools
TAP: A friend of the Bloomfield district makes a $1M donation and gives you 100% sole discretion to allocate the money to one project or educational area in 17-18 school year. How will you spend the money?
EMS: I would direct the money to the financing of special education for our students.
TAP: What book are you currently reading or what TV series are you following?
EMS: I am reading ‘The Eagle’s Gift’ by Carlos Castaneda. My husband Larry and I tend to watch a lot of Netflix including ‘The Ozarks’ with Jason Bateman
TAP: Who was your favorite teacher and why was he/she your favorite?
EMS: My favorite teacher was Mr. Anderson, my eighth grade English teacher in Richfield CT. He was very interested and encouraging in my creative writing. Yes, I still write. A totally random interesting thing; when my family moved from Ridgefield to Greenwich, my English teacher there was Mrs. Anderson, Mr. Anderson’s wife. And she was just as encouraging and interested in my writing as he was. I went on to become a reporter for a local newspaper in Lafayette Indiana for four years.
TAPinto: What is your campaign slogan?
EMS: “Keep Educational Programs Excellent”
TAP: What is the best way for the Bloomfield voters to reach you?
EMS: Email me firstname.lastname@example.org or call me at 973.619-7142.
TAP: Anything you would like to say in closing to the voters and citizens of Bloomfield?
EMS: I want to remind the voters of the rather bumpy road we have traveled over the past eight years. We have come to a very good place educationally and financially in our schools and I hope that the voters recognize the importance of consistency and will vote to keep me on the BOE.