LIVINGSTON, NJ — Meet Kevin Kline: one of the two newcomers to the candidacy for Livingston Board of Education (LBOE) in 2015.
According to Kline, a Bloomfield College math professor and Livingston father of two, his background in real estate, finance and education as well as his conviction and strong passion for bettering the Livingston school district will be a valuable asset if elected to the LBOE.
“I’ve only been here for three years but as a parent of two children who will be here through high school, I have a significant, vested interest in the future of this district,” said Kline. “I’m not happy with just maintaining—that’s not how districts succeed. You have to continuously strive to be better.”
Kline, who has been avidly familiarizing himself with the district’s values and discussions during his three years as a Livingston resident, said he has been determined to put his kids through the Livingston school system since student teaching at the high school early in his educational career. According to Kline, having two kids who will be directly affected by the district’s future gives him the drive and the passion that a board member needs to make beneficial improvements to the public-school system.
“The worst that could happen is that I lose, and now I have experience in the process,” said Kline. “The best that could happen is that I could win and begin being intimately involved in guiding the policies, procedures and visions of this district and hoping to make it an even better district than it is as my kids go through it.”
Apart from recruiting and hiring a permanent superintendent, which Kline said will be a top priority regardless of the election’s outcome, Kline said he also wants Livingston to be the district that is “leading the charge” in integration technology.
According to Kline, who redesigns curriculums at Bloomfield College to integrate technology and diminish the need for textbooks, 75-percent of what people do professionally after college will be digital. Kline said the sooner the public school system embraces that statistic, the more prepared its students will be for the workforce as well as college.
Kline said integrating technology into the high school and fully embracing the “Green Movement” by eliminating the need for textbooks and paper assignments is unbelievably important to him.
“Things I’ve noticed from hearing people talk is that they want to utilize existing technology to do things we should have been doing 10 years ago: search the Internet, collaborate seamlessly with your peers, and basically break down the walls of the classroom to enhance learning,” said Kline. “I’m all for that, but it’s also a little archaic. What I want to do is also take the next step and start the process where we really embrace the Green Movement and everything that technology can do.”
Initially beginning his career in real estate, Kline discovered some of the ways that technology enhanced his business and everyday life. As a college professor, he has made it a point to remove anything in the classroom that is not technology-based, including textbooks and paper products.
Operating under the premise that high school’s role is to prepare students for the college lifestyle, Kline said the district needs to look at what would make the transition as seamless as possible. According to Kline, who also helped create a three-week summer program that facilitates the high-school-to-college transition, the earlier Livingston Public Schools mirror what’s going on in the college world, the more prepared the students will be—and that includes retaining technology skills and basic problem-solving skills.
“What we have to embrace is the ability to teach students how to be effective members of society within the content that we’re giving them,” said Kline. “How to be critical thinkers, how to be problem solvers: skills that can be taught while teaching them the content.”
Although Kline hasn’t had the opportunity to be on a search committee for a permanent superintendent, he said all five of the candidates have attributes that could contribute to the search for a superintendent. With the superintendent cap in mind, Kline said the LBOE has two options: to find someone with experience who had success in other districts, or to find someone less-experienced who has the passion, drive and desire to do the things that the district wants to do.
Ultimately, Kline said he would rather choose a superintendent of schools whose goals, values and policies are in line with the district’s and who will be able to actualize them.
“We’re handcuffed in what we can do as far as hiring talent,” said Kline. “I would never dismiss experience because you definitely need that as a superintendent. But I would be just as happy with a superintendent who has only five years of experience, but who shares our values and who has the drive and the ambition and the passion to do what we want to do.”
Regardless of the outcome, Kline said his vision for the district in extraordinarily important to him and that he is happy that he put himself out there. Kline said that a successful leader has to have the courage to fail.