Over the last ten years, I’ve served with roughly 20 school board members, who have chosen to set aside their free time to work for the benefit of our children and to ensure that we had a high performing school district that did our community proud. Eileen Briamonte and Pete Reddy have been among the best of the bunch—dedicated, deliberative, open to dialogue, and always ready for action.
Recently, their opponents in this fall’s school board race offered their priorities if they are elected. It might be helpful to see how Eileen and Peter have not only adopted these same priorities but have delivered on them.
- Ensure the safety of our students, teachers, and all district personnel during the COVID pandemic: Eileen and Pete have both served as chairs of our Building, Grounds, and Safety Committee. They supported an extensive program of safety improvements that have been put into the place, including upgraded ventilation, Bi-polar Ionization Filtration, infra-red temperature check stations, and Antimicrobial Coating Tape on door handles, push bars, and railings, among others. Very soon we will be one of the few school districts in the state to have UV-C lighting to help decontaminate classrooms at night, expanding the extensive cleaning protocols already in place. State and union officials have toured our facilities and have walked away impressed with our strategy and implementation.
- Restore academic excellence as a priority: Academic excellence has always been a priority for Eileen and Pete. The recent 2020 referendum is just one example of their commitment to modernize our facilities to ensure our students are prepared for 21st century challenges, a project that was completed on time and on budget. In addition, both were strong advocates for the rotating schedule in both the high school and middle school; have supported expanded programs in academics, athletics, and the arts; and have approved plans to reduce class size. Their support for all-day kindergarten guarantees that our youngest students get a good head start. After an extensive review of all aspects of the school district (from operations to governance to academics), New Jersey gave Holmdel a near perfect score and labeled us a “high performing” school district last year. When compared to 18,000 high schools across the nation (which includes private and magnet programs), U.S. News and World Report places us in the top 8%.
- Advocate the importance of STEM: Eileen is a mathematician and Pete manages engineering projects at Honeywell for various school districts. They have been perfect advocates for STEM. Under their watch, we have expanded our STEM efforts throughout the district, including the establishment of a new Engineering program at the high school. We even teach our children computer coding in first grade. STEM will always be an important priority for them.
- Review and direct spending towards proper goals and objectives to hold or reduce taxes: Ironically, while the school district has radically reduced its revenue growth over the last ten years versus past decades (thanks to good financial planning and discipline), it has also delivered a long list of accomplishments—including overall safety enhancements, energy efficiencies, better learning environments, additional teachers, more electives, and upgraded athletic facilities. Eileen and Pete have consistently favored property tax increases below the 2 percent cap. They supported smart spending strategies such as timing the 2020 Referendum to take place after existing school debt had been retired. And they have repeatedly asked the Holmdel Township Committee to share money from the Bell Works property (such as using it to pay for security officers they provide to the schools), so that the Board can return hundreds of thousands of dollars in property tax revenue back to voters.
Eileen and Pete’s integrity and intelligence are above reproach. Both have served terms as Vice Presidents, highlighting the confidence they enjoy among their colleagues on the School Board. In sum, Holmdel is fortunate to have people of their caliber representing our community’s interests.
Others can talk about what they might do. Eileen and Pete have shown what they can do. Show you care as much about our children as they do. Re-elect Eileen Briamonte and Pete Reddy for Holmdel School Board.
6 Wildhedge Lane
Mike Sockol is the Vice President of the Holmdel School Board. His comments are his own, and do not represent the opinions or viewpoints of the Board as a whole.