LIVINGSTON, NJ - Livingston residents Pam Chirls, Soumitra Rathod and David Jasin are running for two available seats on the Board of Education.
Chirls, a 1981 Livingston High School graduate and full-time executive editor, said that with 15 years of volunteering in Livingston Public Schools under her belt, she feels that she is “uniquely qualified to serve as a Board of Education member.”
To list a few, Chirls is the vice president, parent education of Livingston Municipal Alliance Committee (LMAC), the youth chair at Temple Emanu-El of West Essex, PT Council chair of the PAGE committee, and a parent representative on the Strategic Planning Committee.
Chirls told The Alternative Press that the newly constituted board would consist solely of first-term members.
“New board members offer opportunities, but without knowledge of where we have come from, it is harder to make informed decisions about where we should go,” Chirls said. “My long-term relationships and in-depth knowledge will enable me to get to work immediately on issues that directly affect our children, academically and emotionally.”
Chirls said that one of the most important functions a school board member has is to be the voice of the community in regards to education and school matters.
“A top priority as a board member will be to create better communication across the district to best reflect the priorities of all our stakeholders,” Chirls said.
Her plans are as follows:
- Dedicate one meeting each month to areas of concern
- Establish curriculum nights to inform community members about curriculum initiatives
- Conduct comprehensive surveys around identified issues.
Chirls also added that if elected, she plans on “exploring three areas identified in the recent Parent Survey, including course level offerings at the high school, athletic programs at the middle school, and writing programs across the district in partnership so the programs we build will serve the needs of each student, academically, socially, and emotionally.”
Rathod is vice president of a $6 billion NYC-based world leader in education services. He has been a Livingston resident since 2003 and said that he would be a great fit to the board because of his diverse experiences.
“Livingston is becoming an increasingly diverse, multicultural town. As the only foreign-educated member, a recognized thought leader in globalization, and with my intense knowledge of global education and strong understanding of large complex budgets, I bring a unique and diverse perspective that complements the current board,” Rathod said.
Rathod explained that his platform consists of providing a “well rounded and holistic approach to education” for Livingston’s children while not increasing the budget.
“With a possible third referendum in less than 10 years, there is a need to plan our capital requirements comprehensively, for which I will use my strong budgeting experience,” Rathod said.
If elected, Rathod would like to do the following while on the board:
- Ensure that the children of Livingston are better prepared for life in the new global ecosystem
- Ensure that taxes are subject to the same rigor of scrutiny and accountability as is expected of him in the corporate environment.
Rathod said he would better the town’s quality of education by “empowering our teachers with the tools to be more effective, provide our students with the resources to compete better, and to be aware of the changing demands that our children will face in high school and beyond.”
He added that all changes need to benefit the students, covering the spectrum from special needs to exceptional talents.
“This requires the collective inputs of Livingston residents at large – parents, teachers, superintendent and school staff, students and other residents. I will seek their suggestions and participation in helping to improve Livingston’s quality of education,” Rathod said.
Rathod explained that he and his family are active in Livingston’s education as his wife, Michelle Peters, has been a Vice President and President of Collins School PTA board, a member of the Budget Task Force, and a member of the executive board of Heritage Middle School. His two children are also a part of the Livingston school system, in grades 5 and 7.
David Jasin was not available for comment by press time.