There are four candidates for three seats on the Montville Township Public Schools Board of Education in the Nov. 5 election. TAPinto Montville recently asked them five questions. We will be running their answers individually as part of a series; the order of the candidates’ responses was chosen at random.

MONTVILLE, NJ – TAPinto Montville recently asked board of education candidate Michael Rappaport five questions. Here are his responses.

Tell us a little about yourself.

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I have been on Montville’s BOE for just over a year and half.  My family and I have lived in town for over 16 years and our children were born here. I am proud to be part of the positive changes that have been made in our schools since I’ve been on the BOE, both the programs we have instituted and the way they have been received by our community and by the organizations that evaluate our progress (Montville High School moved up 30 places to rank 18 in the NJ Monthly rankings). I am proud to be part of this District as both a parent and a BOE member, and I am looking forward to continuing the improvement of our schools and doing more to deliver success for our children.

What challenges face today’s student and what can the school district do to help manage those challenges?

Time is always a challenge for students, time to complete homework and to participate in after school activities, both school sponsored and independent activities.  Students should feel comfortable being able to participate in athletics, music, arts, and clubs of various topics and focuses.  The participation in theses non academic areas contribute tremendously to a student’s overall well-being, health, emotional intelligence, and can influence their subsequent work.  The District, with the support of myself and the BOE, has worked to lower our students’ stress levels so that they can excel in their academics and still participate in extra curricula activities. This includes homework free nights, Monday Mindfulness e-mails, support for athletics and performing arts, and listening to our principals, teachers, students, and parents when they see something that only adds to the stress of our students without providing them significant benefits. In addition, the BOE is continuing to review school start times, homework, and other factors to determine if additional adjustments make sense for our District, including monitoring changes made by other districts and verifying whether they made a measurable positive impact on their students’ lives.

Are the new New Jersey Student Learning Assessments an improvement over PARCC?

Understanding the impact of the NJSLA will take time.  Having experienced it for one assessment cycle, the initial impact appears to be positive as the amount of testing time has been reduced.  Finding a way to assess the District to ensure that progress is being made at all grade levels is a difficult task.  We will continue to assess the value of the NJSLA and make recommendations where needed to better address the needs of our District.

What changes or improvements do you think the district needs? Or, what areas of weakness do you see in the district?

The safety of all of our children is of paramount concern. Since I’ve joined the BOE, we have allocated District funds and negotiated with Montville Township to provide two security officers for our schools. These officers are tasked with security and outreach/education for our students. 

Additionally, as a member of the BOE, I have listened to the students, parents, and our dedicated faculty and administration about their concerns. In particular, the BOE has been reviewing the curriculum to ensure courses students need are offered at the right times and that the continuation of coursework from middle school to high school continues to be aligned. I believe it is important we listen to our entire community as we continue striving to improve our programs. 

Tackling these issues has shown marked forward strides for our district, as evidenced by our rising rankings. Not only has our High School moved up 30 places to rank 18 in the NJ Monthly rankings, but we have also seen improvement as shown by the 2019 NJSLA across all grade levels that exceed the State trends. We have more than doubled the improvement as compared to the State in ELA and Mathematics. Particularly, grade 10 ELA improved 24.6%, grade 7 ELA improved 14.7%, and grade 3 ELA improved 8.9%, and overall our Algebra and Geometry students have improved over 20% from the previous 2 years. These trends indicate the positive changes the District has been implementing.

Why do you feel you are uniquely qualified to be a board member?

I have worked for a Fortune 50 company and for smaller organizations, managing significant budgets ranging into the multiple millions of dollars, eliminating waste, and delivering tangible results. I’ve tailored my experience towards the needs of the District, our terrific employees, and our thousands of amazing students. I have been through several budget reviews for the District and have put my business experience to work to make sure that while we remain fiscally prudent, our budget remains aligned with our children’s priorities.

My unique experience from the business world, along with my own family experiences of two children with distinctly different learning styles, has given me a unique perspective.  I can see how our District works for our thousands of students while still enabling each individual student with their own learning style and needs. Through my two daughters, I’ve personally experienced many sides of what the District enables for our children, from the work our Special Services team does with students with learning differences to the highly competitive honors programs at Lazar. I chose to join the BOE to be part of this team that helps our children to succeed in all phases of their learning. 

 Editor’s note: TAPinto policy does not allow editing of candidates’ answers.

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