Andrew Bauer is running for a three-year term in the Nov. 5 election for Westfield Board of Education. A candidates' forum will be held at Westfield High School, Wednesday, Oct. 23. Questions for the forum may be submitted to firstname.lastname@example.org by Tuesday, Oct. 22.
Name. Age. How long have you lived in Westfield? My name is Andrew Bauer, and I am 46 years old. My wife Debbie and I moved from Brooklyn to Westfield in the Summer of 2009. Our three kids attend Westfield High School, Edison Intermediate and Tamaques Elementary.
What are your qualifications for office? As a parent with kids attending three different schools, I am experiencing similar concerns and challenges as parents throughout our community. As a former CPA with 10 years experience as an auditor and investment banker, I believe I am well qualified to be a careful steward of your tax dollars. I have spent the last seven years as CEO of a software company that has worked with thousands of schools across the country. Lastly, I have been a regular attendee of Board meetings and I have spoken to many current and former Board of Education members preparing for this role.
What would your top priorities be if elected to the Board of Education? My three top priorities are communication, innovation and students' well-being. I believe the district will be stronger if we increase the frequency of communications between the community and the Board/Administration. Potential initiatives include:
- Soliciting feedback through surveys from students, teachers and parents
- Live streaming Board of Education meetings
- Informal gatherings with the Superintendent and Board members
A second priority is innovation across programming & practices through researching successful initiatives at other districts. Examples include:
- Block schedules and enrichment mornings to offer older students more flexibility addressing academic demands
- More robust programming for parents to help them manage the challenges and pressures their children face
Do you support the proposed school bond referendums for full day kindergarten? I do not support the proposed school bond referendum, as presented on Aug. 27, 2019. My primary concern is the financial risk it imposes on the community. The initial referendum scheduled for March 2020 will fund only the construction of the new facilities at Jefferson and Washington. Even if this initial referendum passes, there must be a second referendum to fund the additional $3-$4 million/year of operating costs. If that second referendum does not pass, we will have spent $12 million to fund construction of buildings that will remain empty. Until there is a more cost-conscious and risk-averse option presented to the community, I cannot support this proposal.
How would you work to promote student well-being and safety? I hope to promote the well-being of our students by advocating for measures which include: 1) Implementing a recurring survey of older students to gauge whether district initiatives are having an impact on stress and anxiety, 2) Exploring alternatives to provide additional time for older students to manage academic and extracurricular burdens (block scheduling, enrichment mornings), and 3) Evaluating if the ratios of counselors are appropriate to properly serve students.
What else you would like the readers to know? My decision to run for a seat on the Board is not because I have some specific expertise, nor because I am advocating for one particular change. I am running because I care deeply about our public schools and I believe my experiences have prepared me to be a thoughtful and productive contributor. I promise to work very hard and listen carefully. If you are interested in learning more about me and my campaign, please go to www.bauerforboard.com.