NUTLEY, NJ - Salvatore Ferraro (SF) is running for re-election to the Nutley Board of Education. He has served on the Board for the past four years, first being appointed by the board to fill a 2-month unexpired term, and was elected to fill a one-year unexpired term. Ferraro was co-campaign manager for former BOE President Thomas Sposato when Sposato ran for his second term in 2012. Sal is currently the Engineering/Chief Project Coordinator and Municipal Recycling Coordinator for the Township of Nutley. He graduated from Nutley High in 1989, has twin daughters going into high school next year and a special needs 9 year old attending school out of district. Sal and his wife have been married for 19 years.
TAPinto: As a citizen and homeowner, what do you think is the greatest asset of the Township of Nutley?
SF: While the Township of Township of Nutley has many assets, for me it’s the community spirit of volunteerism and how that supports our children, teachers and school district. There are many groups in our community like the Nutley Irish, Nutley UNICCO, NEF, Elks, Rotary, Third Half Club, just to name a few that spend countless hours volunteering to provide scholarships, supplies or educational material and equipment to our school system all for the betterment of our children. I know there are many more clubs and associations that I did not mention but operate in our Community for the betterment of our community and children.
I also feel we generally seem to overlook one very important asset within our School District, our Staff. Over the last five years, the District implemented many new programs such as new curriculum, new instruction, strategic plan, etc. All these initiatives could not have succeeded if not for our dedicated teachers, administrators, and support staff. They interact with our students on a daily basis delivering what I believe is a high performing education which needs to be commended and applauded.
TAPinto: What is the Number One reason you decided to run again for the Board of Education Trustee?
SF: I am running to continue the progress that the District has made during the last four years on the board of education. While many challenges were addressed there a still some that remain unresolved; first and foremost, the issue of overcrowding. I have been involved with this issue over the last four years and want to see that it is addressed to the satisfaction of our District and Community.
TAPinto: What is your Number One quality that makes you stand out from the other candidates? Please complete the statement: I am the only candidate who….
SF: I am the only candidate who is the parent of a special needs student. Dealing with a child with a disability and knowing how it impacts families and other children makes me unique as a candidate. That’s the reason I ran four years ago. At that time the special education department was on the decline. We had a revolving door for Head of Special Services. There was no consistency and it was affecting our children. Also, my wife and kids joke that I am stubborn. When I have an idea, a sense of what is right, I will talk to people about it but they have to convince me, they have to go the extra mile to change my thought process.
TAPinto: As a Board of Education Trustee who has served for four years, do you see your role to be primarily or ‘first and foremost’ a representative of the Nutley Community or a representative of the School District?
SF: I believe as a trustee my role is first and foremost as a representative of the district. However, as a trustee you must also be mindful of the community and taxpayers. The two go hand in hand. To do what is best for our children and their education and also to balance this with the needs of the community.
TAPinto: Share one SPECIFIC idea you have to engage the Nutley homeowners who do not have children in the school district in voting for the referendum?
SF: As Nutley homeowners we have to realize that property values go hand in hand with our education system. Even though you don’t have children in the system, you can’t neglect your school system. All homeowners need to realize how vital the education system is to property values and the quality of life of the community.
TAPinto: What is your Number One reason you believe school boards are necessary?
SF: Having been on the board for four years, I see the importance of the Board of Education as policy making board that oversees the superintendent and how the district is being run. We do not have day to day operational responsibility; however we do oversee how the superintendent is running the school district. It’s a good checks and balances system.
TAPinto: What do you consider to be the Number One OVERALL educational gap or weakness in the Nutley Public School district?
SF: I would have to say not having a true middle school model where sixth graders are in the Walker Middle School building. There is a gap when it’s the year that students transfer over from elementary to middle school. When they go from eighth to ninth grade is another transition. In the 2017-18 school year, the 6th graders will still be located in the elementary school buildings. If the referendum passes, 2020 will be the year 6th graders move to the expanded Middle School and we will have true middle school facilities model.
TAPinto: As a parent with daughters going into the high school, what is the one policy change or curriculum change you would like to see in the High School in the 2017-18 school year?
SF: While we are doing some things with S.T.E.M, I would like to see more being done in that area. We need to offer more courses similar to our robotics program. I am also seeing how different my daughter’s interests are. My father is a barber and one daughter wants to be an entrepreneur in the beauty industry. She thought we were going to be mad because she was not interested in college. However, we were able to encourage her to pursue her dream to go beauty school and also study business at a community college.
I would like to see more curriculum directed at entrepreneurism for those students who do not want to go the college route. We need to focus not only on academics but also other fields that may not require 4 years of college. When I was in high school it was called ‘the trades’. We had shop and woodworking. Because of cuts, some of these programs are no longer available now. We need to expand different options for students interested in things that do not require going to college.
TAPinto: Do you play any sports or have any hobbies?
SF: I used to play volleyball for about 20 years with the Nutley Men’s League. The games are played at the High School. I played soccer for 4 years and tennis for 3 years when I was in high school.
TAPinto: Where do you stand re: the importance of athletics in the overall school curriculum and extra-curricular activities? Very Important, Somewhat Important, Not Important. Why?
SF: I believe athletic and extra-curricular activities are very important. They provide children with another avenue for them to express themselves. It is also important socially to make different friends they may not encounter through studies. Sports and clubs are important because when you are on a team it’s about you and others working together.
TAPinto: Ideas for getting kids to bike/walk to school vs. adding to traffic on Fr Ave?
SF: At the elementary schools they have Walk to School Days and Yantacaw Walks. Since our district has community schools, students are not far from their homes. As parents we worry about our kids, so parents have to overcome the fear of having their kids bike and walk to school. Wanting to bike or walk to school starts at a young age. Schools and parents need to work together to get our kids in the habit. I would like to see coordinating programs with all elementary schools. Perhaps walking as an entire school initiative where students walk to school together once a week. Build on what we do now at some of the schools and doing it collectively as a district.
TAPinto: What book are you currently reading or what TV series are you following?
SF: Unfortunately with my situation at home with my daughter, it is difficult to read because time is short. My wife and I recently were watching ‘Quantico which is about the lives of young FBI recruits. If someone is looking for a great book to read I recommend ‘The Reason I Jump: The Inner Voice of a Thirteen-Year-Old Boy with Autism’ [Naoki Higashida] – This book gave my wife and I insight to our non-verbal daughters thinking.
TAPinto: Who was your favorite teacher and why was he/she your favorite?
SF: I had a lot of really good teachers. I can think of one Lincoln Elementary school teacher, Mr. Parigi. I always had an interest in computers in elementary school and he noticed that. Mr. Parigi had a group of 3-4 of us who went to to his room during lunch and he taught us how to code using MS-Dos on TR8 Tandy from Computer Shack. I remember the group of us asking the ‘if you do this type coding questions’ and we developed a game similar to Oregon Trails, a computer game popular at the time.
Prior to working for the Township of Nutley, I worked for AIG in the Construct Surety department. When I started they were developing a database program and I was put on team to develop programs for our dept. I credit Mr. Parigi with inspiring my interest in technology. I am still holding onto my first computer, have my Atari 800 hoping one day it will be work a lot of money!
TAPinto: What is your campaign slogan?
SF: I did not file an official campaign slogan with my petition. I am in the process of developing a slogan with my Facebook page.
TAPinto: What is the best way for the Nutley voters to reach you?
SF: I have a school email account: firstname.lastname@example.org for school-related issues. For elections I will be setting up a Facebook page.
TAPinto: Is there anything else you would like to tell the TAPintoNutley readers?
SF: We covered a lot of areas. And I’d like to tell the voters I’m the type of person who does what’s right, not what’s politically correct. I will always do what I think is best for our children and district and our community. We need to balance what is best educationally with what is affordable for our taxpayers and residents. I also want to thank TAPintoNutley. I had a good time. I appreciate the interview.
Historical Note: In the 2014 Board of Education election, three incumbents ran unopposed for 3-year terms
✓ Lisa Danchak-Martin - 2368 ✓ Salvatore Ferraro – 2314 ✓ Frederick Scalera - 2565