RANDOLPH, NJ- On Tuesday, the League of Women Voters of Morristown Area hosted a debate at Randolph High School, which featured five candidates vying for three open positions on the Randolph Board of Education. The five candidates consisted of three incumbents, Tammy MacKay, Susan DeVito, and Jeanne Stifelman, as well as two additional candidates, Yalitza Torres and Frank Dunn.
One question from the audience was centered around what the goals the candidates felt the board should achieve over the next three years.
Communication/transparency was a common goal that the candidates had strong feelings about. Tammy McKay said, “The Board should work on transparency,” MacKay continued, “Matt [Pfouts] has done some terrific things, the more time we give him, the better we will do.” Jeanne Stifelman also added that “education among our stakeholders” should be a priority, this way there are no issues with why decisions that are made are done. Frank Dunn said, “Response to the community is where it is lacking.” Yalitza Torres also said that communication should be improved, between the Board, Superintendent, as well as other stakeholders. Susan DeVito mentioned that videotaping Board of Education meetings had been discussed, saying “I strongly believe in embracing the 21st Century technology to get our meetings out to the public.”
Another question that was asked was "What do you feel some strengths for which the Randolph School District can be proud of?"
Student achievement was a shared topic among the candidates, along with course offerings and curriculum. DeVito also mentioned the Special Education Department as a strength for Randolph Schools. “We have one of the top Special Ed. programs in the state of New Jersey,” DeVito said, “Our Director of Special Services has done a fantastic job.” Tammy McKay also added security as a strength for the district. Schools in Randolph had vestibules upgraded via the referendum, to enhance security of staff and students.
With regard to weaknesses in Randolph Schools, Frank Dunn proposed that if the Board of Education cannot go into classrooms and monitor staff members, Dunn said, “Change the ethics,” he continued, “I am not saying to evaluate teachers, just see what goes on, walk around the halls.” Communication was another topic brought up by Susan DeVito. “I think it is an area we are working on, but it is still an area that we can continue to explore,” DeVito said. Jeanne Stifelman also added that the Randolph School District can do a better job with social and emotional well-being with respect to students as well as staff members.
Diwali was a recent holiday, that is celebrated in the Hindu culture. Also known as the festival of lights, Diwali is recognized as a holiday in some school districts by certain days off or excused absences. The question arose about potentially making Diwali a holiday that is recognized by the Randolph School District by having accommodations, specifically days off for the district. The candidates seemed to support the idea of looking into the population of families in Randolph that observe Diwali, and possibly looking for ways to allow students and families to observe the holiday with time off from school. Some current holidays that are recognized with days off are Rosh Hashanah (Jewish New Year), Yom Kippur (Jewish Day of Atonement), Easter, as well as Christmas.
It is evident that most of the candidates share similar opinions on a variety of topics, but it is ultimately up to the community to vote for the three individuals that are seen as best-fit for the Randolph Board of Education.
The Board of Education elections will take place on Tuesday, Nov. 5, and the Randolph School District is where a large portion of taxpayer funds is allocated towards.