VERONA, NJ - Verona Board of Education members Jim Day and Glenn Elliott are running for reelection in a contested race, and they are challenged by Sara Drappi and Lynn Halsey. The election will take place on November 5. TAPinto Verona/Cedar Grove will run a series of articles leading up to the election, the first of which is a brief overview of each candidate (listed in alphabetical order).
Jim grew up in the Caldwells and moved to Verona 17 years ago where he has coached baseball and soccer, as well as served on the town’s Public Safety Committee. His two children attend Verona High School. With a job in account management, Jim applies that knowledge to the board and how we can improve the school district.
During his six years on the Board, Jim played a part in hiring Dr. Dr. Dionisio as Superintendent, increasing technology and security in the schools, expanding the mental health program and increasing the number of students taking AP classes.
He’s proud of the strides being made in changing the culture at the schools, and the fact that Verona has dedicated teachers, a great administration, successful academic and athletic programs and an amazing band. He wants another term on the Board so the district can continue to improve and thrive, including the referendum in November that focuses on building and grounds to keep the facilities top notch and safe.
Sara grew up on Verona and received her education from the Verona School System, as will her daughters—a third grader at Lanning and a rising kindergartener in 2020. Sara co-led Verona’s full-day kindergarten initiative.
Sara’s perspective on education and life outside the suburbs was formed during her time as a student at Indiana University, where she had friends who had to leave school because their families’ farms failed. As a special education teacher in Nutley, Sara would like to take a close look at Verona’s special education budget, which is the district’s fastest-growing budget, to get a deep understanding of what students and parents need.
The influx of development in Verona is what pushed Sara to get involved. She would like the Board of Education to have a seat at the table, or at least be in any of the negotiation processes, so they can plan for what’s coming and the impact it will have on the schools, with the ultimate goal of negotiating monetary compensation from the PILOT funds.
Glenn has lived in Verona for more than 20 years with his wife and two children. His son is a senior at the University of Vermont and his daughter attends Verona High School. Glenn began his tenure on the Board of Education in 2004. He didn’t win reelection in 2013 but ran again and was re-elected in 2016. Glenn’s service to the Verona community includes coaching his children’s sports teams, becoming a Den Leader for the Cub Scouts then later a Scout Master.
Glenn runs his own digital marketing firm, and previously worked at a software startup.
During his time on the Board, Glenn is most proud of the many facilities upgrades that have been made, the hiring of Dr. Dionisio as Superintendent, the implementation of the mental health initiative and eliminating the barriers around taking AP classes. Looking towards the future, Glenn is working with the Board to put forth a referendum in November to repair roofs, windows, floors and walls, as well as renovate rooms to make more space for Verona’s growing population.
Lynn moved to Verona from Weehawken with her husband in 2011, and they have third and first grade daughters attending Lanning. The Halseys chose Verona to raise their family because of the excellent school district, the proximity to Montclair and the charm of older homes. Since moving to Verona, Lynn has been active in the community, co-leading a Daisy Troop for her youngest daughter, becoming a committee member of VMAC and serving as a contact for the Lanning Avenue STA.
Lynn spent more than a decade working in media sales operations at MTV Networks before going back to school for her master’s degree in social work. She now works as a patient liaison for women who are experiencing high-risk pregnancies to answer questions, figure out costs, and work with insurance companies to advocate for the best possible care.
Lynn would like to fully integrate a mental health curriculum that includes education and training for teachers. She also believes that a more diverse school board is a stronger school board, and she wants the board to consider various perspectives when determining the programs and policies that impact all the residents of the town.