The following was written by Mike Sockol, candidate for the Holmdel Board of Education.
I recently saw this intriguing tidbit in the Asbury Park Press:
"Approximately 1.23 candidates are running for each open seat on Tuesday, the lowest ratio of candidates per vacant seat since 1999, according to the school boards association."
I guess we can state the obvious here. It’s not easy serving on the school board. It’s a tough job that takes a lot of time and energy. You better be ready to roll up your sleeves. But more important, knowing the high standards we set here in New Jersey, you better be ready to deliver the goods.
When I first seriously considered serving on the Holmdel Board of Education three years ago, I saw a district facing a multitude of challenges, including failed budget votes, lingering negotiations with our teachers, various financial challenges, and looming reform initiatives coming from both Trenton and Washington.
While it was a time defined by tough choices, it also offered an opportunity to provide new ideas and perspectives.
By working in partnership with administrators, teachers, and parents, my board colleagues and I developed solutions to address many of these issues, and I’m proud of the accomplishments we achieved together:
- expanded curriculum choices
- safer district facilities and infrastructure
- investments in technology enhancements
- significant conservation-related savings
- reduced operating expenses
- the recruitment of top administrative talent
- fair and equitable contracts for our school staff
- budgets well below the state-mandated two-percent cap
During my tenure on the Board, I have consistently supported initiatives designed to ensure quality education at a reasonable cost. Over the last three years, school taxes have only increased on average by less than nine-tenths of one percent annually, including no property tax increase in 2011. In fact, the school district's share of your annual property tax bill has dropped almost three percentage points over this period.
At the same time, the district has broadened its offerings in arts, theater, music, social studies, science, and mathematics to extend quality education in the broadest manner possible, reaching students at all ranges of skill and achievement. National publications consistently rank the Holmdel High School among the best in the country, and our students continuously garner awards for academic, artistic, and athletic excellence.
I use the term “we” deliberately. Public education is a collective exercise. Every Holmdel resident is a stakeholder in our school district, and we need to make a commitment to align our goals in an open and public way so that we can collectively build upon our strengths and address our weaknesses.
With new educational mandates from Trenton and continuing fiscal pressures, we still have more work to do—such as addressing core curriculum requirements, new teacher evaluations, and additional technology requirements, just to name a few.
The job still requires rolled-up sleeves. I hope with your support on Tuesday, we can continue to work together to ensure a quality education for our community's most valuable asset--our children.