NUTLEY - Fred Scalera (FS) is one of three incumbents running for Board of Education in the November 2017 election.
This is Scalera’s third run for BOE. He was first elected in 2011. Scalera is a Class of ’76 Nutley High graduate
TAPinto: As a citizen and homeowner, what do you think is the greatest asset of the Township of Nutley?
FS: Our volunteers are our greatest asset. If you look at the numerous programs from volunteer fire department to Family Service Bureau, various service clubs, township committee, sports clubs, Gail’s Angels, Thriving Survivors; everybody who volunteers at the museum, Van Riper House. That’s what makes Nutley different from other towns. I’m in the Elks, Rotary, UNICO and on the Distinguished Service Award Committee for the Jaycees. All have scholarships Nutley hall of fame.
TAPinto: What is the number one reason you decided to run again?
FS: The first time I ran we were under an Attorney General violation for the way purchasing was handled during referendum construction. Policy and procedures for district construction were never corrected before I got on the board. Myself, Vickie Flynn & Lisa Danchak-Martin ran together on the platform of correcting policy so there weren’t any more violations. We worked diligently to get the other Board members to adopt a formal resolution with the new policy. Vickie and & I were able to make it happen. I decide to run again because I think there are a lot of things coming forward that will impact the direction of Nutley in long term for our students and our community.
TAPinto: What is your number one quality that makes you stand out from the other four candidates? How would you complete the statement: I am the only candidate who….
FS: I am the only one who has been volunteering in this town since I was 14 years old. I’m the only BOE member that is a licensed fire official and construction sub code official. I bring that knowledge to the Board, especially needed with the possible construction that may be in front of us. While I am not working now as a fire or sub code official, I take all required continuing education courses and recently renewed all my licenses.
TAPinto: You have been a Board of Ed trustee since 2011. Have you found your role to be first and foremost a representative of the community or a representative of the school district?
FS: That’s a great question. I feel I am a representative of the whole community. The reason is if you are going to be on the board I believe you must be active within the community to be able to effectively do your job for the district or the community. My son was involved in sports and music and education. I am the School Board representative for the Music Boosters which represents the marching band, and the Friends of Nutley Singers which represents the choirs.
TAPinto: As both a homeowner and a person who represents the citizens of Nutley in your role as a member of the Board of Ed, what is the greatest challenge you see facing the Township of Nutley today?
FS: I like that question. As a homeowner and representative of the citizens, I am concerned with how to make sure we are maintaining a successful school district. How to balance the cost of operating the school district and protecting the property values within the township. One of the issues affecting us a little bit is what is going on at Roche. If I’m someone who is thinking about buying in Nutley there’s a big piece of property (Roche) that the answer from some people to the question “what’s going on there” is “we don’t know yet. What will be the impact in the future for taxes & property values is still not known.
TAPinto: Has the district reached out to the Dean and administrators of Seton Hall Hackensack Meridian Medical School to discuss partnering on programs, educational opportunities, internships etc. for our students?
FS: I know the Superintendent has talked about what she wants to do there especially with science and tech program as it relates to the medical school. I know it’s being worked on because she has given us reports. That’s honestly what I know on that subject.
TAPinto: Approximately 1,100 students will be on the Medical School Campus when full enrollment is reached. Hopefully these students will be walking and biking to our business districts instead of driving over for meals and services. How can we get more of our district students biking and walking to our schools, especially our high school students in order to calm and reduce some of the traffic on Franklin Ave?
FS: I don’t know if there is a great answer to that question because it is individual choice. Back in the 70’s when I was at Nutley High, I was excited when I got my license. I would leave from school and drive right to work at Stop & Shop in Clifton where Kohl’s is now. We have a lot of students who do that today and also play sports and need to get to places directly after school. Regarding the younger students who don’t drive walking or biking to school, I don’t know how to do that. We would have an uprising if we tried to mandate it.
Perhaps we could offer an incentive like other districts do. It would be a change in the way we live today. Nutley is not a mass transit community. I don’t want to give an answer I can’t support in the future. I walked to Holy Family when I was a student there from Kindergarten to 6th grade. I started at Walker in 7th grade. I walked through the park to get to school. Today parents think it’s safer to drop their kids off rather than walk. It’s today’s mindset. It’s about parents dropping off more than the students driving or biking. We have to change the parents’ mindset more than the students.
TAPinto: You have been in the Nutley district as a trustee for two terms now. What do you consider to be the number one educational gap or weakness faced by the district in the upcoming school year?
FS: I’ll tie that to robotics. We need broaden our technology education across the district. An example: For the past two to three years we had robotics club in the high school. The past year the club entered the largest competition ever. The upcoming school year will be the first year we will have a robotics class. The question is ‘how do we fund the expansion of technology. Nutley Educational Foundation funded the robotics program last year in order to grow it to where it will be next year. I’ve been a member of NEF for five to seven years.
We would like to bring robotics to the Middle school as well because coding is a big piece of the future. There are other districts that have robotics at all grade levels. Last year female students got into coding and were part of the robotics program. Today, it’s also about involving females in coding.
TAPinto: Please share one SPECIFIC idea you have to engage the Nutley homeowners who do not have children in the school district in voting YES for the referendum.
FS: A couple of months ago the Nutley Board of Realtors invited the Board of Ed trustees to attend meeting. Those of us who attended found out the issue was the school district. A couple of homes were sold that you could see the neighborhood school from the homes. Unfortunately because there was no space at the school, the new homeowners had to register their kids at another school outside of the neighborhood. These new homeowners were quite upset. The realtors have concern about this affecting future sales and the long term effect on property values if this continues. Realtors believe that actions to approve the referendum need to happen. They want young people to buy homes here and existing homeowners want to maintain property values. Parents and new couples are buying homes to have their children grow up and go to schools here. Without the referendum we may see what is happening not only in Nutley but across the country; property values going down because of the school district.
Lazovick started the forward motion in our last five-year plan and the committees are now being put together for the new five-year plan that will be built by Dr. Glazer as the new Superintendent. We are now starting citizens committees to keep advancing the plan.
TAPinto: Where do you stand regarding the importance of athletics in the overall school curriculum and extra-curricular activities? Very Important, Somewhat Important, Not Important. Why?
FS: Very Important. It’s about education, music and sports. Those three things tied together make successful students and individuals. For, example we now have football, hockey and lacrosse players who are also in choir. When I was in high school I was in band however, you never saw students in both. This is making our district better. It all ties together.
TAPinto: Do you play any sports currently or hobbies?
FS: I played a lot of sports in the past, volleyball, softball and I ran the Ski Club for Nutley for 14 years when Commissioner Frank Cocchiola was our Parks and Recreation commissioner. I started a ski program for the students in grades 3-6 and another group for 7-12th graders. We took the high school age group to Vermont on an annual ski trip and every third year we went to Colorado. The program stopped when my son started playing ice hockey. He will be starting his 2nd year in college in Florida.
TAPinto: What book are you currently reading or what TV series are you following?
FS: I read things I need for work, not really a book reader. On a night that I am home at home there is no show I follow because of meetings, work, and memberships in clubs.
TAPinto: Who was your favorite teacher and why was he/she your favorite?
FS: My eighth grade teacher, I believe her name was Mrs. Williams. She was a standout person who changed my vision on math. She got me to enjoy math and this helped me excel in high school.
TAPinto: What is your campaign slogan?
FS: Nutley’s Education Now and into the Future.
TAPinto: What is the best way for the Nutley voters to reach you?
FS: My board email is firstname.lastname@example.org. For political questions email@example.com They can also call me: 862-234-8567 My campaign Facebook page is @FredScalera
TAPinto: Anything you would like to say in closing to the citizens of Nutley?
FS: I love the township. I’ve been involved in too many programs to list here. And I’d like to continue serving in my community.