The Par-Troy Council of PTAs hosted a Parsippany-Troy Hills Board of Education candidates night on Monday at Parsippany Hills High School.
In a previous article, Patch gave a run-down of the candidates’ opening statements. Twelve questions were randomly selected from the public for the board. More than two-thirds of submitted public questions were answered, but not all due to a time constraint.Here are the responses from the candidates to these two questions:
- For the past several years, there has been a lot of arguing among the board, administration and teachers resulting in a lot of bad press. How do you plan on putting all political and personal agendas aside and putting the focus back on our students where it belongs?
There’s been a lot of talk … about cutting the middle school reading and writing programs. What do you know about the program and are you in favor of keeping it or cutting it?
- Commitment to integrity can solve a lot of political and ethical problems on the board. “there is no … place for that on the board. Integrity is part of what I feel needs to be carried through this entire process.”
- “Not in favor of cutting Reading and Writing. I am in favor of creating more goals towards reading informative texts, more critical, non-fiction texts, research-based texts and really adopting fundamentals of critical thinking. No on cutting Reading and Writing, but yes on potentially changing the focus of that Reading and Writing program.”
- “I can work with anybody that wants to work with me. When there is a board, that board has to be trained on how to get along because it’s a complex situation … Right now, everyone seems to be arguing and everybody doesn’t seem to be getting along.” Plans to encourage board training and train under team-building scenarios.
- “There is no way that we would cut something like that. You need to read and you need to write.”
Fran Orthwein (Incumbent)
- "I think team building training will benefit ... One of my goals is to bring creative cohesiveness among the board in order to have a better working output and a better working relationship ... Restore respect and dignity … We don’t have to agree with each other … but once a consensus is reached we need to respect that and each other."
- “This board and this community chose team teaching and that model including reading and writing years ago. It’s an expensive way to deliver education, but it is effective. It’s important to not to become stagnant … I’m not an educator … we put together a team to carefully and deliberately study this. I’m not in favor of any short term, quick fixes in this area, if it even needs to be fixed at this time.”
- “One of the goals when you have a case with a client is getting the other side to the ‘yes’ position. I trained for years in school and as a practicing attorney … to help mediate and to arbitrate difficult positions, personalities … I’m not here to take shots at anyone on the current board. I think everyone has some pretty interesting ideas but they don’t get them all heard … (hopes to ) restore unity to our board of education.”
- “Reading and Writing is the bread and butter. It’s one of the most important and crucial skills … Reading and Writing is critical.”
- With a board of nine ppl not everyone is going to have the same opinion and not everyone should have the same opinion … need people on the board who can agree to disagree … state their opinion and then listen openly and honestly to other people’s opinion … all members need to show respect” to the community and the community needs to show respect to the board.”
- “Reading and Writing is of the utmost importance … I would not be in favor of cutting Reading and Writing … however I do not believe that it precludes us from looking into it and see if we can somehow make it better, but until the district has a clear plan on how to improve (it) without the current workshops, I would not endorse cutting (it).”
- As an office manager for seven years, Meunier has worked for different schedules, personalities and age groups and was Par-Hills Ice Hockey Booster Club president for four years and “even though I don’t have a child in the district anymore, they asked me to stay on … the two hockey teams combined and last year we thought we would have major growing pains … but we were able to pull it off and as long as we didn’t show the children of the district who were playing ice hockey and the parents some of the closed door meetings that were going on and some of the discussions that were going on, what the parents saw and what the children saw were only positive and that reflected in the way they played, in the way they became a team and in the parents.”
- “I personally would not want to cut it but I am open to listening to what ever the board is working on … analyzing what’s going on across the country … I would be open to looking into other programs and how we could maybe improve ours.”
- “Anyone that attended this past Thursday’s board meeting, what we all witnessed was pretty interesting. One of the few times that I walked out, shaking my head, asking, ‘Why do I keep coming back?’ … Politics and partisanship need to be left at the door … Personal attacks have got to stop. You have nine volunteers who represent a diverse group in this community … If you have a personal agenda … you need to leave it at the door because the board’s only agenda should be doing the best for the children and the community. What we have witnessed over the many many meetings and over the many years, to me, has been some unprofessional behavior and I think it’s time that it stops.”
- "I also would not be in favor of cutting the Reading and Writing program … (but would have the) responsibility to look at it and analyze it and review … are we reaching our goals? … You have to measure to see if you’re succeeding … under no circumstances would I recommend or agree to arbitrarily cutting the Reading and Writing program in lieu of doing something else or saving another class or cutting a team out of the middle schools … I do not believe in taking way from our students.”
- “Personal agendas and people’s own personal feelings sometimes need to be checked at the door … When you’re with a team and a group of people, there are going to be different views … and ideas. There needs to be open-mindedness … and open communication to those ideas. We can’t single people out when we don’t like those ideas and things that are discussed behind closed doors need to stay behind closed doors. As we like to say, keep it in the locker room.”
- Cutting this program “can harm our students ... I have trouble understanding why we would want to take away a program that other high-performing districts are trying to copy … This program can only help our students in other subjects areas … We heard testimonies from past graduates on Thursday night on how this program helped get them through school.”
- More board training and team building is needed. “We need to be more respectful of one another … listening to opinions is very important. Putting students first should be the main focus … We need people … to keep personal attacks out of the board of education and leave them home. They’re not needed here.”
- “I would not cut Reading and Writing … it carries over to other subjects … Students can carry what they learn for year to come … I would have to see some kind of measurement to tell me that it’s not beneficial” before he considers cutting it.
Anthony DeIntinis (Incumbent)
- Bridging gaps and keeping everything transparent will help keep everyone on the same page and unity. “When an issue is unclear, I always make a call to central office to get clarification … that is what needs to be done with everyone so that we all understand the issue at hand and we make the decisions with the children at mind.
- “Reading and Writing is essential. I would be in favor of enhancing it. I have no intention of cutting Reading and Writing curriculum while I’m on this board.”
Also, if you have an opinion to share about this election or any of the upcoming ones for Parsippany mayor or council or the special election, share it on Parsippany Patch's open elections blog, "The Soapbox: Par-Troy Gov't."
Sharing is easy and free. Candidates, you can also share your platform, full opening/closing statements on that forum as well. Visit the Elections blog here and click on the open text box under the heading to create a post.