MAPLEWOOD/SOUTH ORANGE, NJ — Melanie Finnern is one of five candidates running for three full term seats on the South Orange-Maplewood Board of Education.

After weeks of talking with parents and discussing complaints in Facebook groups, Finnern decided she would run for BOE. She said she felt obligated to step up because a lot of parents have complaints but few, like her, have the time to dedicate to this position.

Finnern has lived in Maplewood for six years and has a daughter going into third grade and a son entering kindergarten.

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“We’re here for the long haul,” Finnern told TAP. “I just want to be a voice of the community because I really love this town.”

Finnern wants to address the lack of communication to parents and make sure the curriculum is equal across all schools. Concerns about equity for students are also on her mind. Finnern believes that integration and a proper special education curriculum are part of getting at those issues.

The disparity in the quality of education is something that Finnern says became clear to her this spring, and she is ready to be a part of the change. It’s all the same district so it should be equal across the board, she said.

Why does Finnern believe she deserves your vote?

“I’m not an educator,” she said. “But I’m smart and I’m dedicated,” she continued, promising to stay informed as a board member and to make decisions with all the available information.

As a graphic designer, Finnern says her “design thinking” process will help the board look at problems in a new way. This well-rounded approach as she describes it, is central to finding alternative solutions to the district's problems.


Read about the other candidates as their profiles become live:

Susan Bergin

Deborah Engel

Melanie Finnern

Elissa Malespina

Courtney Winkfield

Kamal Zubieta