EAST BRUNSWICK, NJ - Todd Simmens is a candidate for the East Brunswick Board of Education. BOE candidates are not linked to any particular political party.
Personal background, relationship with the schools, knowledge of education process:
I am an attorney, certified public accountant, and national partner with global accounting firm BDO USA, LLP, as well as an adjunct professor of taxation at Rutgers University. I’ve lived in East Brunswick since early 2002 (over 18 years). My wife, Michele, is a graduate of East Brunswick High School. Our son, Alex, is a 2018 graduate of EBHS and attends Emory University. Our daughter Ella is in 10th grade at EBHS. Our daughter Lily is in 7th grade at HMS. I have served on our Board of Education since 2005, as the Board’s president for many years, and as vice president. I have participated in most Board committees, such as Finance, Facilities, Policy, Curriculum, and EBEA Negotiations. I have also represented the Board on the East Brunswick Human Relations Council and state and county legislative committees.
Priorities as the district moves forward:
Responding to the pandemic, mandates from the state, and preparing for in-person instruction after the pandemic will be the Board’s immediate priorities. We have been fortunate to ensure that every student has the technology to work both remotely and in the classroom. I would like to expand on this by ensuring that our curriculum continues to incorporate the use of and study of technology. As we continue to make certain that technology is at the center of much of our instruction, we must do so while ensuring that our curriculum remains consistent across all grade levels, while being responsive to state mandates and the needs of every student. We also must address the District’s increasing facility needs. In many of our buildings, we are at or near capacity, so finding ways to maximize the use of our space will be essential. This year, I also hope to, once again, have a role in ensuring that we reach a fair and equitable new contract with those that make our district a model across the state.
Observations about the hybrid learning plan in place:
East Brunswick met the state’s mandate to develop a hybrid learning plan better than any district in New Jersey. As it currently works, students are engaged and learning, and our staff are providing a safe and challenging instructional environment. While the District’s plan has been praised as a model, it is still not a perfect way for our students to learn or our staff to work. Parents and guardians, along with their children, must make the difficult choice of whether to “go hybrid” or “all remote,” with neither option being ideal. I hope the state continues to consider other alternatives until we can be all in-person.
Non-curricular programs and activities are vital to the learning and well-being of all our students. Such activities help students manage time by ensuring that they keep to their schedule and commitments. Non-curricular programs improve scholastic performance by giving students a change to put down their books and papers, sharpening their focus when they are engaged in studies. Such activities also provide a social outlet for many students – a place where many lifetime friendships are made. When non-curricular activities are considered as part of a child’s entire K-12 experience, such experiences are often the main way districts can reach students for whom academics are not their only measure of success. I hope to continue to expand availability of these vital non-curricular programs and activities.