LIVINGSTON, NJ — Meet Mike Ramer, one of the two newcomers to the candidacy for Livingston Board of Education (LBOE) in 2015.
When the community votes for two of the five LBOE candidates on Nov. 3, Ramer said his background in business management, marketing, advertising and recruitment—as well as a fresh perspective—would be "invaluable" additions to the LBOE.
“I’m an entrepreneur at heart,” said Ramer, who is a national trainer in the staffing and recruiting industry. “But I’ve always been interested in and loved education and training, because I believe it’s the heart and soul of everything we do.”
Ramer, whose two teenage sons have been in the Livingston Public Schools system since 2005, moved his family to Livingston primarily for what he called Livingston’s “outstanding educational system.” According to Ramer, education was always a top priority in his family, which is why he became so invested in the goings-on of the Livingston school district.
Because his father was a mayor and a mother served on a Board of Education in another district in his preteen years, Ramer said public service is in his blood. Believing that his experience both as a business person and a trainer in the staffing and recruiting industry would be very valuable in helping the district with key issues like hiring a permanent superintendent, Ramer said the timing is right for him to run for a position he has always wanted and it is his way of giving back to the community.
“I am forward thinking, and I think it’s important for organizations, including boards, to bring in people with new perspectives and who have energy and new ideas,” said Ramer. “In my world in business, I think of my customer first. In Livingston schools, the customers are the parents and the children, and if we exchange information and ideas in a proactive, collaborative format, great things can happen.”
After graduating from Brandeis University with a bachelor’s and master’s degree in International Economics and Finance, Ramer moved to New York City and joined Chase Bank’s Management Development Program. Deciding that banking wasn’t creative enough for him, he moved to the advertising industry and ultimately made a career move to recruiting.
Ramer is a Certified Personnel Consultant and one of about 30 national staffing and recruiting trainers in the country and speaks at state and national conferences. He is also an Employability and Economic Expert Witness for legal cases. According to Ramer, he could apply his diverse skill set in revenue and expense management and costs-benefits analysis to the LBOE.
Specifically, Ramer said hiring a permanent superintendent of schools is the key issue for the Livingston’s school district now and one where his background would be extraordinarily useful.
“A superintendent of schools is the executive who leads our school district and it is critical to have the right superintendent in place who is a visionary leader and who will stay with us for years,” said Ramer. “There are ways to make this happen and that’s my expertise. If elected, I can help guide and consult and be on the committee to vet the right candidate.”
Ramer said hiring a permanent superintendent would be invaluable to the district and once the right person is in place other issues would dissipate. Ramer also said that he could help the district climb higher on published school rankings, which Ramer said would be one of his top priorities if elected.
According to Ramer, “NJ Monthly Magazine” ranks Livingston Public Schools as 16th in the state and “US News and World Report” ranks it as 21st in the state. For Ramer, this ranking is not high enough.
“I think we should be a Top Ten school district,” said Ramer. “The quality of the teachers, the quality of our district, the quality of the education that my kids are getting—we should be ranked higher.”
Ramer said that higher-ranked school districts hire and retain the best teachers, that students will be accepted to better colleges and that property values will increase. Ramer said, if elected, that he intends to discover what the drivers of those rankings are and figure out what needs to be adjusted to move Livingston rankings higher.
According to Ramer, the district also needs to get on board with the 1:1 initiative, making the classrooms more technology-centric. Ramer said that the district needs to move quickly, in the right ways, if it wants to remain ahead of the curve. He also believes that the district should strongly consider Bring Your Own Device (BYOD), in which seventh-through-twelfth-grade students could bring their own laptops to school, to save expenses in the school budget.
“We’re going through an unprecedented time in history with advancements in technology. What younger generations know, what my generation knows—from where our grandparents came from is light years apart,” said Ramer. “As a society, we’re trying to grapple with it. Technology is increasing at an accelerating rate. Teens and 20-somethings know the power of technology and what it can do for their education, learning, collaborating and communicating.”
Ramer said that the LBOE needs to listen to students when it comes to bringing new technology into the schools. His campaign slogan is “New Ideas, New Results,” because he believes a new perspective is what the LBOE needs.