Bloomfield BOE candidates discuss transparency, communications, special education, and citizen's advisory committee


BLOOMFIELD, NJ - The Bloomfield Board of Education candidate forum was nearly two hours long. In order to inform the public of the issues in the most reader friendly manner, TAPinto Bloomfield is reporting on the forum in segments. 

Continued Coverage Bloomfield BOE Forum: Audience Questions 1-3 and Candidate Responses

Bloomfield citizens with questions for Board of Education candidates Heaney, Heller, Rogers, Salinas and Smith were asked to specify if their questions were for seated board members running for re-election or for the challengers. Candidates were allowed two minutes to answer questions from the audience.

Sign Up for E-News

Bloomfield Home and School Council sponsored the forum. Marya Pastore and Carolyn Petti, Council officers served as timekeepers.

Questions 1-3 are presented in this article. TAPinto Bloomfield will cover all questions and responses in upcoming articles.


The first question directed to the seated board members was: “What are some of your concrete plans to improve communications and enhance transparency?” Similarly, the challengers were asked: “What are your thoughts about improving communications with the community?”

The citizen asking the question commented that while some information was provided via The Independent Press, it was requested that more information be available via the district website; a medium with broader reach that more citizens could regularly access. The citizen stated that they have been asking for increased communications for a year.

Emily Smith: ‘I worked with Sal this year to develop a monthly calendar…to address education issues…It’s a from the Superintendent’s Desk, not necessarily written by the Superintendent. Regarding transparency…That’s also a big issue for me…’

Ellen Rogers: ‘Transparency, I feel that’s been an issue that we’ve work towards constantly. I feel that sometimes we take a beating in social media…We are trying very hard to be transparent. 

Michael Heller: Heller stated that while the word calendar had been used in the previous candidates’ responses, what had actually been published in September was a column written by the assistant Superintendent. ‘I would have imagined that the inaugural column would have come from the Superintendent himself…I have championed minutes that have represented what happened in a meeting. I’m not quite sure my two seated board members agree with that position…I think Director of Communication is a sorely needed position…that position would allow us to do a much better job of messaging.’

Jessica Salinas: ‘There are concerns that they [the elderly] have…they have no more children in the school district so how do they get their information? They want to be involved in the school district. Let’s incorporate our [communications] programs [Virtual Backpack etc.]  for the people who don’t have children in the district.’

Thomas Heaney: Heaney acknowledged the two high school students that attended and filmed the forum. ‘I think we should have more participation, not just from the elderly, but also the high school students…Heaney stated that while the district had started using Facebook and Twitter: “There are a dozen other applications on the phone that the students use effectively…As far as transparency, I will always be honest and forthright.’


The second question centered on the assumption of a 30% budget deficit for Special Education and the need to address students left behind: ‘how do we tap into bringing each student in the system into the 21st century?’.

How do you plan to access funding [30% budget deficit] and what is your intent in terms of addressing the needs of all student?

Heaney: ’…We have been working with inclusion classrooms that started at Fairview a while back. I see that we have a lot of special needs students in all the classrooms. Inclusion classrooms have been working. They [the students] don’t’ have that bias. Heaney stated that he would like to further research the issue and provide an updated answer.’

Heller: ‘We have a district wide effort as of this year to have inclusion classrooms at the elementary level…a testament to a strong fiscal situation. I’m not sure about the 30% deficit. In terms of ‘not leaving children behind, the New Jersey School Board Association is working on a Task Force report that addresses ‘what are we doing in public education for those children that are not college bound’…I do believe we should start earlier…we should have a full day pre-K…I believe a collaborative board working with the administration, working with the Township and understanding the wishes of the community, can make that happen for all of us.’ Heller also noted that special ed costs are not limited to the 2% cap.’

Salinas: ‘Regarding the 30% budget deficit Salinas said: ‘I would have to research that so I had more information to have an answer for you.’

Rogers: ‘I think there might be some confusion with the 30%... I do know we have been looking into the idea of using Medicaid funds to help the special Ed budget… Special Ed funding is extremely high…If people actually saw the numbers I think they would be surprised…What Emily and I have been discussing is trying to see how insurance can be pulled into the equation…I am involved in ‘Pre-K Our Way in Trenton to get universal pre-k throughout the entire state…’

Smith: ‘Relative to Special Ed, it’s not a deficit we have; it’s that we are underfunded by about 30%, possibly more. When IDEA was put in place, the idea was that the Federal government would cover the costs of those educational programs by 40%. That has dwindled down to roughly 10%...The boards of education are now having to go after property owners to fund the special education costs…My interest is through group effort and united front from every district in the state to go after the state and federal government to restore the level of funding that was promised when this legislation was enacted.’


Bloomfield District policy provides for the enactment of a Citizens Advisory Committee. The third question posed to the candidates was: “Would you commit to creating a Citizens Advisory Committee?”

Heaney: ‘I would be willing to work with a Citizens Advisory Committee. Yes…Anything that improves communication with the community at any level is a benefit.’

Heller: ’Yes. Policy 9140 needs to be enacted. We as a Board of Education are essentially a policy making body…If you’ve heard anything that I’ve said in board meetings under the policy session of our agendas, I have been asking where our policy review is. We have adopted that as a goal both in 2016-17 and now we are entering 2017-18 and nothing has happened. Board leadership needs to take this on…’

Salinas: ‘Yes. One more yes. Were this is in the best interests of the children, I will support this.’

Rogers: ‘Yes from me as well. I agree that it certainly needs to be brought up again. I do remember Mr. Heller introducing that idea. I was not against it at the time…I do remember the suggestion.’

Smith: “I remember that issue being brought up and I’m not against it at all…I think there are some mechanisms that already exist in the existing structure to work with the community on various issues... People come to the podium and they bring up an issue and the board figures out a way to work on that going forward… I guess what you are talking about is a specific body, that would work with a certain group of citizens toward the same thing.  I have no problem doing that at all. I think you’ll find that from my experience on the board is that people start out real strong in the beginning and overtime it dwindles down to a very small group of people, but we could certainly start and see where it leads us.’

Related: Issues Voiced at Bloomfield BOE Forum include: Strategic Plan, Transparency, Test Scores, Enhanced Community Communications and Improved Board Member Collaboration

Related story: Bloomfield BOE Candidates - How would you spend a one-time $1 million dollar gift

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News


Smile! TAPinto Bloomfield is on Instagram

June 25, 2018

BLOOMFIELD, NJ - TAPinto Bloomfield is now on Instagram. 

TAPintoBloomfield.net is a member of the New Jersey Press Association, and is the only locally owned news organization serving the community. Sign up for our FREE daily eNews. Like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter @BloomfieldTAP  and Instagram @TAPintoBloomfield

Download the ...

Bloomfield Civic Band "Classics Under The Stars" on the Green

BLOOMFIELD, NJ - The first concert of the Bloomfield Civic Band free Summer Concert Series “On the Green” takes place Monday night. .

The concert takes place across from the Bloomfield Civic Center at 84 Broad Street at 7 p.m..

Everyone is invited to bring a lawn chair and enjoy the grand old American Concert Band tradition of music in the park!

Upcoming ...

Upcoming Events


Mon, June 25, 9:00 AM


Kids' Critter Camp



Mon, June 25, 9:00 AM

Anthony Santomauro, North Caldwell

Legends Baseball “School’s Out Baseball Camp”

Education Health & Wellness Other Sports


Mon, June 25, 9:00 AM

Yogi Berra Museum & Learning Center, Little Falls

Yogi Berra Museum Summer Softball Camp

Health & Wellness Sports

Mon, June 25, 7:00 PM

Hospital Auditorium, Glen Ridge

Tour of the Birthing Center

Health & Wellness


Mon, June 25, 7:00 PM

Bloomfield Green - Across from the Civic Center , Bloomfield

Bloomfield Civic Band "Classics Under The Stars" ...

Arts & Entertainment


Tue, June 26, 9:00 AM

Anthony Santomauro, North Caldwell

Legends Baseball “School’s Out Baseball Camp”

Education Health & Wellness Other Sports


Tue, June 26, 7:30 PM

Montclair High School ' Front Yard', Montclair

Montclair Community Band Summer Concert #1

Arts & Entertainment

Bloomfield Police Department Blotter June 11 - 17, 2018

June 21, 2018

BLOOMFIELD, NJ - The following police blotter has been issued by Lt. Anthony Sisco of the Bloomfield Police Department.


6/14/18- Erky, Luna Age 36 of Newark, NJ- Officers were dispatched to 60 Orange Street (Home Depot) on a report of a shoplifting. The suspect was observed placing multiple items in his waist band, pockets and a plastic bag. He then fled the area on ...

Mothers Mobilize in Newark to Protest Trump Family Separation Policy

June 24, 2018

NEWARK, NJ - A group of New Jersey mothers took time to come to Newark with the kind of loved ones recently taken from other mothers: their children.

"It's unconscionable that our government is stealing children from their parents and locking them up in cages," said Christina Liu, a Montclair mom holding her baby daughter, commenting on President Donald Trump's recent ...

SOMA Celebrates Pride with Painted Lampposts in South Orange and Crosswalks in Maplewood

SOUTH ORANGE AND MAPLEWOOD, NJ - Earlier this month, Maplewood celebrated Pride by painting rainbow crosswalks outside of Town Hall at the intersection of Oakview Avenue and Valley Street, which were unveiled with a celebration and ribbon cutting on Thursday, June 6.

Inspired by the Maplewood crosswalks, on Thursday evening, June 21, South Orange recognized Pride month by having community ...

Elizabeth Resident, Newark Native Releases Debut Single

June 23, 2018

ELIZABETH, NJ - Elizabeth resident, Gail Campbell has released a highly anticipated debut single, "BLOODY WATERS."

This first single for Campbell, has a Rock-N-Roll and soulful vibe and is currently available on Apple Music, Spotify, Deezer, Google Play, Tidal and all streaming services. 

The music, paired with Campbell’s soulful voice, displays a soulful ...

NJ Native and Children Shot in Colorado Road Rage Incident: Child Dies

WESTMINSTER, COLORADO: A native of Colts Neck and her children were attacked in a road rage shooting that left her 13 year old son dead and both her and another child injured. A third child was able to run to safety.

Jeremy Webster, 23,  was charged with first degree murder, extreme indifference; three counts of attempted first-degree murder; three counts of first-degree assault with ...

Belmar Mayor: Have You Seen Silver Lake’s Swan Family?

June 24, 2018

BELMAR, NJ — Silver Lake’s resident swan family is missing — last seen on June 22 waddling along Ocean Avenue southbound.

To make sure they are in a safe location, Belmar Mayor Brian Magovern is asking if anyone has spotted the adult pair of swans and their cygnets. He believes they may have settled on Lake Como, which has more vegetation than Silver Lake.

This winter, it ...

More than the Fourth of July, Make it a Star Spangled Week in the Long Beach Island Region of NJ

STAFFORD AND LONG BEACH ISLAND - Summer 2018 starts now, so time to enjoy the beauty of the Jersey Shore. As families and friends gather for the summer holiday, there is plenty of options to assist in rounding out July 4 vacation and getaways.

With July 4 falling on a Wednesday, there are many events surrounding the holiday.

The award winning Surf and Sip Brew Trail itinerary is available ...

America's Celebrated Evolving Journey

June 17, 2018

This Fourth of July, the United States of America will celebrate its 242nd birthday since the signing of the Declaration of Independence.  Our Nation was conceived in liberty at its core. Together we the people, with ancestors from every part of the world, continue the struggle to live by its founding noble principles.  Namely that, “We hold these truths to be ...

The Power of Positive Engagement

To the Editor:

I wanted to share this letter from Laurie Beacham, Media Director for NJ 11th for Change, about the notable increase in voter turnout and citizens deciding to run in the recent primary election:

"The 11th Congressional District has a lot to be proud of. In the June 5th primaries, voter turnout climbed from almost 33,000 in 2014 to over 86,000. Democratic ...

Bloomfield Bengals Sports Update May 21, 2018

Volleyball advanced to the County final with wins over Science Park and Montclair. Unfortunately, Livingston got the better of the Bengals in the County Championship Match.   

At the County Track and Field Championship Meet the Girls Team had a fine showing placing 5th overall. Leading the way was Kaela Edwards-2nd in high hurdles and Aicha Naouai- 2nd in javelin. The best ...

Bloomfield Bengals Athletic Update May 14 2018

 At the SEC Championship Meet La’Shan White equaled his school record in winning the 400-meter hurdles. He also won the 110- meter High Hurdles and anchored the winning 4x400 relay team. Aicha Naouai won the Javelin with a throw of 126’6.5(#9 NJ) and the Discus with a mark of 95’5”. Warlys Lizardo won the Boys Discus at 120’.

Kristina Collins reached ...

The Jaffe Briefing - June 22, 2018

TRENTON - Well, the state Legislature passed a budget yesterday. But that matters little in the overall drama, as it now goes to Gov. Phil Murphy and his sharp red pen. The governor still remains as odds with his Democratic counterparts who left a meeting with him yesterday claiming no progress. He's "completely dishonest with us," charges Senate President Steve Sweeney.

TAPinto Featured Franchisee: Steve Lenox of TAPinto Paterson

This week's feature will focus on TAPinto Paterson's franchisee, Steve Lenox. Find out how the current owner of a public affairs firm went from a former State Director for Senator Frank Lautenberg to a proud TAPinto franchisee for New Jersey's third largest city.


Q. When did you join TAPinto.net?

I joined TAPinto.net in September, ...

The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn

The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn (William Morrow, 2018)


A friend, whose opinion on literature I respect greatly, reported to me recently that she had just finished reading A.J. Finn's debut novel, The Woman in the Window. Of it she said, “I wish I hadn't finished it,” which I interpreted to mean, “It was so good I'm sorry that I finished it.” ...

When the Men Go Off to War by Victoria Kelly

When the Men Go Off to War by Victoria Kelly (Naval Institute Press, 2015)

Victoria Kelly's first published volume of poetry, When the Men Go Off to War, is a wonder in that poems can be written so beautifully about the subject of war. Each poem is a jewel, polished and colorful, glittering with elegant imagery, and rich in emotional wallop. The book, divided into three sections, ...

The Queen of the Big Time by Adriana Trigiani (Ballentine Books, 2005)

            The Queen of the Big Time by Adriana Trigiani, a New York Times best selling author, was recommended to me by a young woman who actually came from the town of Roseto, Pennsylvania, the place where the novel is set. “The author did such a wonderful job of describing how the town actually is,” said the young lady.

The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah (St. Martin's Press, 2018)

            What is the “final frontier” on the Earth's surface? Many people would say Alaska, the 49th state, which was added to the United States fifty years ago. Once one has traveled to that remote land, it is impossible to forget the magnificence of the terrain and beasts. Floating by ship in Glacier Bay, surrounded by ...

Assembly Democratic Bill to Ensure Safety of Special Needs Students on School Buses Clears Assembly Panel 

June 22, 2018

TRENTON, NJ – Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Daniel Benson, Valerie Vainieri Huttle, Reed Gusciora, Ralph Caputo and Andrew Zwicker to protect special needs students who ride school buses was released Monday by an Assembly panel. 

This bill (A-4332) would establish a minimum ratio of school bus aides to special needs students on a school bus.

NJ 11th for Change Endorses MIKIE SHERRILL for Congress

NJ 11th for Change Endorses MIKIE SHERRILL for Congress

Sherrill Meets Group’s Endorsement Criteria and Will Best Represent District’s Values

MONTCLAIR, NJ – NJ 11th for Change announced today that it has endorsed Mikie Sherrill for the U.S. House of Representatives seat in the 11th Congressional District of New Jersey.

After a comprehensive process including candidate ...

Rutgers Equine Science Center Annual Summer Showcase Scheduled for July 11

NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. — The Equine Science Center at Rutgers University is hosting its annual "Summer Showcase" from 10 am to noon  on Wednesday, July 11 at the Equine Exercise Physiology Laboratory on College Farm Road on the George H. Cook Campus in New Brunswick. The Summer Showcase, similar to an open house, is a FREE event that is open to the public and perfect for any and ...

Horse Care Workshops at Lord Stirling Start June 23

BASKING RIDGE, N.J. — Somerset County Park Commission Lord Stirling Stable is offering Horse Care Workshop 101 for adults and youth seeking to gain experience and confidence around horses through a combination of non-riding activities and hands-on practice.

Horse Care Workshop 101 will be held at Lord Stirling Stable, 256 South Maple Avenue in Basking Ridge, NJ beginning Saturday June ...


Jun 10, 1983 - Jun 17, 2018
Ryan M. Lucas, 35 Proud Marine Veteran and Nutley Firefighter Ryan M. Lucas, a lifelong ...
Read more
Sep 4, 1943 - Jun 10, 2018
William “Bill” Tangorra, 74, of Grand Rapids, Michigan passed away Sunday June 10, ...
Read more

The End of Jets Mini-Camp

After a week of crystal clear cerulean skies over 1 Jets Drive, the New York Jets just wrapped up their mandatory full squad mini-camp.

New York Jets Head Coach Todd Bowles held press conferences after practices last Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. Jets fans have lots of questions at this time of year on what to expect from their team this fall. The press questions covered a wide ...

Thirty Days after the Draft

It’s been just about thirty days since the 2018 NFL Draft and the New York Jets have been working hard to build the team fans have been waiting for. Let’s recap the first round draft pick before discussing OTA’s and other Jets info.

Some New York Jets fans were certain earlier in the 2017 season that with the way the win-losses were going, Sam Darnold would be the New York ...