Elections

Candidate Statements

Malespina, Raab and Roberts Enter Board of Education Race

88891cc59094df34b560_Raab_et_al.jpg
Marian Raab, Shannel Roberts, and Elissa Malespina.
88891cc59094df34b560_Raab_et_al.jpg

SOUTH ORANGE/MAPLEWOOD -- Local residents Elissa Malespina, Marian Raab and Shannel Roberts announced on Monday, July 27, their joint campaign for three seats on the South Orange-Maplewood Board of Education.

“We are excited and proud to be running for the Board of Education,” said Malespina. “Our school district has so many good things going for it -- talented students, amazing teachers and parents who are passionate about their children’s education. South Orange-Maplewood used to be a district looked to as a model of what to do right. Unfortunately, now we have been cited as a model of what to NOT to do, despite the many great things going on in our community.”

Raab agreed, adding: “Our district is at a crossroads right now and we have no room for error. With a new superintendent starting at Academy Street and critical safety and security issues still unresolved, we must do better at communicating with and supporting students, teachers as well as the parent community.”

Sign Up for E-News

Safety and security of students and teachers will be a top priority for the candidates.  

“No student or teacher should ever feel unsafe in our schools,” Roberts said. “We will work closely with administration to make sure that they have the tools and resources to make that a possibility. We need to be proactive in our approach to discipline and look for ways to work with students, be it conflict resolution, restorative justice or counseling to reduce the number of children who are repeat offenders.”

Malespina noted that in addition to safety and security, communication will be another key issue in their joint campaign.

“No parent should ever have to write emails that go unanswered or spend hours trying to navigate the district’s phone system and website to reach a teacher or administrator,” she said. “Let’s cut the bureaucracy and get back to the basics! No one should ever have to go to a board meeting and speak their mind during the ‘public speaks’ portion only to get no response from administration or board of education members. No one should be subject to BOE meeting that last until midnight or past 1:00 in the morning.”

If elected, Malespina, Raab and Roberts will work to revamp district communication as well as the structure and scheduling of board meetings.

“We need to have two board meetings a month like almost all of our surrounding districts,” Raab said. “The board cannot effectively govern if meetings start 30 to 60 minutes late and then stretch into the next day. This spring, the board voted to eliminate the International Baccalaureate program at nearly 1:00 a.m. Two board meetings will help ensure that vital decisions are made when the community is awake and aware of what’s going on.”

The three candidates will also work to revamp how the “public speaks” portion of the board meeting works.

“Parents deserve a timely response and answers to their questions,” Malespina said. “Student voice is also very important to us, we want to hear from them since they are the ones that we are ultimately doing all of this for. At one board meeting a month, we would like to highlight a different school and invite students from that school to address the board first during ‘public speaks’ about their concerns, issues and accomplishments.”

High property taxes and the district’s looming budget deficit will be a top priority for Malespina, Raab and Roberts if they are elected.

“We’ve got to put some common sense back into our school budget,” Raab said. “For instance, had the board listened to the many parents and teachers who spoke up against IB years ago we would have not wasted hundreds of thousands of dollars and countless hours on a failed experiment,” Malespina added.

“It is unacceptable that we pay such high property taxes in our two towns while cutting so many important services and programs that our students need,” Roberts said.

If elected, Malespina, Raab and Roberts will work closely with our state Assembly and Senate representatives to advocate for increased school funding from the state and explore all other avenues -- such as federal and other grant programs -- to help our cash-strapped district.

“We also need to work closely with other New Jersey school districts to advocate for increased school funding in Trenton while continuing to look for all the responsible cost savings we can find in-house,” Malespina added.

Providing more access and equity in our schools while closing the achievement gap will be another key issue in this campaign.

“When black students outnumber white students at CHS but comprise only 21% of the population of students in advanced placement (AP) courses at Columbia, we have a problem,” Roberts noted. “We must provide all students with access to higher level courses not only at the high school level but also in middle schools. Placement in 6th grade math should not determine a student’s future ability to take advanced courses in high school and future college admissions. We also must look at ways to improve our complicated and confusing math placement system and curriculum and bring back the ‘Contract for Choice,’ which would give parents and students a stronger role in math placement.”

Malespina, Raab and Roberts will publish their full platform in the coming weeks at soma2015.com.

The candidates can be reached by calling 973-913-4877 and have a Facebook page -- SOMA 2015. They can also be followed on twitter @somaboe2015 and Instagram at somaboe2015.

Meet the Candidates:

Elissa Malespina has been an educator since 1998, and for nine years was a school librarian in the South Orange/Maplewood school district, first at Columbia H.S. and then at South Orange Middle School.

Currently the Supervisor of Education Technology, 6-12 STEM and Professional Development for the Parsippany-Troy Hills School District, Elissa won the 2014 Bammy Award given by the Academy of Arts and Education for School Librarian of the year.

A nationally recognized educational speaker, trainer and presenter who has been featured on NPR and numerous magazines and blog posts, Elissa recently worked with Sage Consulting Group where she helped to address achievement gap issues in the South Orange-Maplewood schools. She has also consulted with the school district on communication issues.

Having lived in South Orange for over two decades, Elissa has been active in the community as a volunteer at numerous town events including Celebrate South Orange, Village Beautification, National Night Out and more. She was also a trustee for the South Orange Public Library and is a co-founder of South Orange/ Maplewood Parents for Quality Education.

Elissa is married to Joseph Malespina, a life-long resident of South Orange and a 1994 graduate of Columbia High School. Their son Matthew is a rising 7th grader at South Orange Middle School.

Marian Raab is a non-practicing attorney who has been working as a financial and legal journalism for more than 20 years. She is the former Editor-in-Chief of Credit Union Journal, a weekly financial newspaper, and currently works as a freelance editor/writer. Marian was previously Managing Editor of Financial Executive magazine and Associate Editor of the New Jersey Law Journal.

A 14-year resident of the Tuscan neighborhood in Maplewood, Marian has been active in township community affairs and politics. She was elected to the Maplewood Democratic Committee twice, serving as a Democratic District Leader. Marian is also a local organizer for Save our Schools New Jersey, a nonpartisan, grassroots, volunteer organization of parents and other public education supporters and is a co-founder of South Orange/ Maplewood Parents for Quality Education.

She led the opposition to the second application of Hua Mei, the “boutique” Mandarin-immersion charter school that attempted to open twice in Maplewood. (Former district Superintendent Brian Osborne estimated that if Hua Mei had been approved, the district would have had to set aside about $500,000 to fund its first year.)

A long-time member of the Tuscan Elementary School PTA, Marian is the former chairperson of the school’s Safety Committee and where she worked closely with the Maplewood Police Department and township government to improve driving and pedestrian sidewalk conditions in front of the school.

Marian is married to Matthew Goldstein and has two boys in the public schools—William, a rising 7th grader at Maplewood Middle School; and Ethan, a rising 3rd grader at Tuscan.

Shannel Roberts is the Executive Assistant to the CEO and Executive Vice President of the Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest New Jersey.

A 10-year resident of Maplewood’s Hilton neighborhood, Roberts is actively involved at St. John’s Community Baptist Church in Newark, and is a former member of the NAACP Education Committee serving the Oranges and Maplewood.

Shannel founded the Essex County Chapter of Little Sistahs in the Know Inc., a literacy program geared toward boosting the self-esteem and positive self-image in young black girls. She organized a career fair at Hilton Library that invited professional women of color and entrepreneurs to demonstrate to the girls the endless possibilities for achievement.

She also co-founded R.O.S.E.S., an afterschool leadership and peer mentorship program to raise self-esteem and promote academic excellence through community service.  She serves on the board of WOFABE, which is the largest African Dance and Drum festival in New Jersey. WOFABE will be celebrating its 10-year anniversary at the NJPAC in November.

Shannel is a passionate supporter of cultural arts and education with a focus on dance, music, and leadership. She has also been actively involved in the rights of children with special needs as well as tenants’ rights and low-income housing issues. 

She is married to Mike Roberts and a proud parent of Sarai, a rising 11th grader at Columbia High School.

The opinions expressed herein are the writer's alone, and do not reflect the opinions of TAPinto.net or anyone who works for TAPinto.net. TAPinto.net is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by the writer.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

SOMA

Love is in the air...

Come to Sadie's to buy your sweetie the perfect Valentine's Day gift. We have locally made jewelry, vegan perfume, unique valentine cards, scratch off maps for those who travel and other fun gifts - something for every honey. Of course if you are looking for something to wear on your romantic night out or a fun single's night we have that, too.

Saturday, Feb 10, from noon to 3 ...

A Tale of Two Very Different Town Administrator Searches

Both Maplewood and South Orange are looking for new town administrators at the same time, a rare occurrence.

And their approaches couldn’t be any more different.

Maplewood, whose long-time administrator Joseph Manning is retiring May 31, launched its search last month the old-fashioned way: hiring a recruiting firm and letting them do the heavy lifting (or more appropriately the ...

AtlantiCast

AtlantiCast Medical Minute: Atlantic Orthopedic Institute’s Scoliosis and Spinal Deformity Center

On this episode of the AtlantiCast Medical Minute, we’ll take you inside the Atlantic Orthopedic Institute’s Scoliosis and Spinal Deformity Center, with the center’s director, Jason Lowenstein, MD.

Video Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1M7euCp86-c

AtlantiCast Episode 011

Breaking Atlantic Health System news on this week’s AtlantiCast! Plus, find out why Morristown Medical Center is one of the best hospitals in the nation when it comes to recovering from joint surgery, see the newest center for fighting brain cancer and an Atlantic Health System red-carpet premiere!

 

South Orange Police Blotter - Two Arrested for Robbery in South Orange

February 11, 2018

Adult Arrest - Robbery - Shawn Ray Newsome, a 20 year old Newark resident and a 17 year old juvenile were arrested on Saturday, Feb. 3, at approximately 10:45 p.m. for robbery. Two male victims reported that as they were walking on South Orange Ave near the Newark border, they were approached by three actors (described as black males wearing dark clothing and black masks) who ...

Maplewood Police Blotter - Home Burglary and Two Auto Thefts Reported

January 29 - Burglary; At approximately 3:10 p.m., officers responded to the area of Heller Pl and Orchard Rd on the report of an individual going into backyards. While checking the area, a juvenile approached an officer and notified her that her home on Orchard Rd had just been entered by an unknown male. Officers checked the home and surrounding area, but were unable to ...

Blood Drives in SOMA: Maplewood on Feb. 22 and South Orange on Feb. 26

February 19, 2018

SOUTH ORANGE AND MAPLEWOOD, NJ - Due to winter storms and flu disrupting blood donations, the Red Cross is urging donors to donate and help maintain blood supply, according to a press release from the organization.

In January, severe winter weather forced about 600 blood drives to cancel, resulting in more than 17,500 uncollected blood and platelet donations. And, ...

Maplewood Seniors Enjoy a Visit from Alfalfa the Alpaca on Valentine's Day

MAPLEWOOD, NJ - If you were at the Maplewood Senior Center on Wednesday - which happened to be Valentine's Day - you would have seen the somewhat unusual sight of an alpaca. Alfalfa the Alpaca to be precise.

 

The visit from Alfalfa was the first in the "creature comfort" series from the Maplewood Recreation Department.

 

Maplewood Recreation Director Melissa ...

Upcoming Events

Wed, February 21, 12:00 PM

Temple Sharey Tefilo-Israel, South Orange

The Purposes and Rhythms of Jewish Living

Education Religions And Spirituality

Carousel_image_982bc8344531b1a37c85_par_440

Wed, February 21, 7:00 PM

Par 440 Restaurant & Lounge, Short Hills

The Extra Rich In Class Dinner Show with E.R.I.C.

Arts & Entertainment Food & Drink

Fri, February 23, 12:00 PM

St. Andrew & Holy Communion Parish Hall, South Orange

Lenten Friday Fish Fry Dinners

Food & Drink

Carousel_image_982bc8344531b1a37c85_par_440

Fri, February 23, 7:00 PM

Par 440 Restaurant & Lounge, Short Hills

The Extra Rich In Class Dinner Show with E.R.I.C.

Arts & Entertainment Food & Drink

Illegal South Ward Rooming House Closed for Life-Threatening Conditions, 12 Relocated

February 18, 2018

Newark, NJ—An illegal rooming house in Newark's South Ward has been shuttered and 12 people relocated after Newark fire inspectors discovered life-threatening conditions inside the property on Friday.

Newark Fire Inspectors responded after citizen complaints to a one-family house at 46-48 Van Ness Place and found “deplorable conditions” inside the ...

PARCC Debate in Newark Continues Amid Calls from Murphy for its Dismantling

NEWARK, NJ - Ever since New Jersey began using the PARCC exam in the 2014-15 school year, the state teacher's union and other groups have criticized the the standardized test and called for the state to stop using it to assess student performance.

During the campaign for governor last year, Phil Murphy, who was endorsed by the New Jersey Education Association, promised to ditch ...

Elizabeth Schools Report One Student Has Died from Flu Virus

February 19, 2018

ELIZABETH, NJ - The Elizabeth School District has reported that one student has died from Influenza (Flu).

“It is with great sadness that I must report to you that the Elizabeth School District has lost one of its own,”  Elizabeth Superintendent of Schools Olga Hugelmeyer wrote in a letter to parents over the weekend. 

The Superintendent's letter is ...

Jade Isle in Scotch Plains to Stay Open One More Week

SCOTCH PLAINS, NJ — The sudden announcement that the venerable Jade Isle restaurant (158 Terrill Road in Scotch Plains) would close on Sunday evening caught many of its fans by surprise. As a result, longtime customers flocked to the eatery this weekend for one last meal. 

Not wanting to disappoint those who wanted to stop in a final time, owner Jack Lee has postponed ...

Atlantic Health System Earns Spot for 10th Year on Fortune’s ‘100 Best Companies to Work For’ List

February 18, 2018

Atlantic Health System, a leading provider of health care in New Jersey, today celebrated a decade of excellence after it was recognized among Fortune’s “100 Best Companies to Work For,” ranking number 74 in its 10th consecutive year on the prestigious annual list.

It is the only health care delivery system from New Jersey, and the top-ranked New Jersey based company on the ...

Man Charged with Crashing Truck into East Orange Planned Parenthood Clinic

Acting Essex County Prosecutor Robert D. Laurino and East Orange Public Safety Director Sheliah Coley announced on Friday that Marckles Alcius, 31, with a last known address in Lowell, Massachusetts, has been charged with carrying out a truck attack on the Planned Parenthood East Orange Health Clinic on February 14, 2018, using a stolen bakery delivery truck.

Alcius has been charged with ...

Paper Mill Playhouse Announces the World Premiere of 'Unmasked'

Paper Mill Playhouse (Mark S. Hoebee-Producing Artistic Director, Todd Schmidt-Managing Director), recipient of the 2016 Regional Theatre Tony Award, announced today the world premiere of UNMASKED, which will feature some of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s most iconic work and the stories behind its creation, along with new music and memories from his extraordinary life and career, will open its ...