EAST BRUNSWICK, NJ - Five candidates are running for three seats on the East Brunswick Board of Education on Tuesday, November 5, TAPinto East Brunswick has asked each candidate a set of questions so that readers can learn their views on important elements involved in advising the administration of the East Brunswick Public Schools. Questions were sent to the candidates - Liwu Hong, Heather Guas, Mark Csizmar, Curt Philipczak, and Wesam Berjaoui - last week. The answers to one question at a time will appear in a series of four articles here on TAP.
The second question has been the topic of extended discussion, conflict, and planning within the district. New housing in the proposed Redevelopment Zone between The Turnpike exit and Ferris Street and new building elsewhere in the township has caused residents to wonder about a possible enrollment surge.
2. What are your thoughts on the possible impact of new development in the township and the population it may bring to the schools?
Liwu Hong: "Unless the new development is properly balanced commercially and residentially, it will impact our current school system. Adding too many residential units will increase student population, result in overcrowding classrooms and may increase the student-teacher ratio if the facilities are upgraded and additional teachers are hired timely. Therefore, Board of Education shall keep communicating with the township, update the township of our current school status, know what is in the new development pipeline and act diligently for the anticipated new students."
Heather Guas: "I think we all have questions about the impact of new development on our town. The district is always concerned about class size and the current Board of Education has taken steps in the past year to begin to address growing class size and prepare for the future. Keeping class sizes small is always a priority. The district has already opened space within the district by relocating programs out of the elementary buildings to open space for classes. I am pleased to see the district is aware of possible overcrowding challenges and would be pleased to join them in their effort to plan to stay ahead of this issue."
Wesam Berjaoui: "New developments in the township will increase the general population in-town and in our school district and that is why it is important now more than ever to make efficient use of taxpayer dollars and plan ahead and modernize our school facilities to make sure that there is adequate room for all of our students along with the necessary equipment and supplies for each of our students so that they may receive the best education possible."
Curt Philipczak: " Simply stated, the increase in new development will result in a possible increase in the student population. At this specific time, it is prudent to have dedicated experienced Board of Education members to plan and find solutions that may impact the Board of Education and the township for many years to come. This experience should include a professional working knowledge and very specific practical financial experience of working with short-and long-term debt as it relates to taxes, property values and bond referendums. As a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) and licensed Public School Accountant (PSA) with over 20 years of experience I wish to contribute my time and expertise to help look for those solutions and possible alternatives resulting in the impact of new development has on our schools."
Mark Csizmar: "We have not been shown any plans that lay out exactly the type of housing that the redevelopment will contain. For example, to estimate the number of children a family may have it would be helpful to know the number of bedrooms in the proposed residential units. Steps that have been taken while I have been a member of the Board to try to estimate trends include the hiring of Statistical Forecasting LLC. The company issued a Demographic Study Update that was presented at a Board meeting in July of this year. The study projected possible grade by grade enrollment for the next five years. The Superintendent and Business Administrator are constantly giving the Board updates for new registration of students. Using this and other data, we must monitor class size and take the necessary steps to ensure that the number of students in a classroom does not exceed current standards."