Alison Cogan, a 40-year-old certified public accountant, town volunteer and musician, has five reasons for wanting to see the Parsippany school system succeed: her five kids.
"The best thing about Parsippany is the diversity of programs and students we have in the district. There are many sports, clubs and classes that are available to help them get a well-rounded education," she said. "Since I have children in the gifted, mainstream and special-education programs, having a school system that can support and challenge all of them is very important to me."
This is Cogan's second time running for the board, and though she is a challenger, she was chosen to run as the third member of the incumbents' ticket of Board President Frank Calabria and Vice President Frank Neglia.
She is a participant in numerous civic groups including Parsippany Parents and Professionals of Exceptional Children, the Troy Hills School and Central Middle School PTAs, the Morris County Foster Parents Association, The Seeing Eye and the Parsippany Area Chamber of Commerce. Cogan is also a regular presence at school board meetings.
Asked about her five top issues, she cited school board communications, updating the class size policy, bringing back media specialists and world language classes, improving technology in schools and moving the BOE away from controversy and back to education.
"If I win the election, I will use my experience and abilities to work with all members of the board to involve the community," she said. "I will also listen and act responsibly and respectfully at all times, and constantly encourage other members to do the same."
Cogan said the class size policy in Parsippany wans't updated to reflect the influx of special-needs students to the district.
"The result is that some classes are allowed to go above the district class size of 25 students," she said. "I will continue to work with the Superintendent and the BOE Policy committee to bring the District’s policy back in line with its population."
She also bemoaned budget-mandated cuts to the district's media and language programs. Cogan said her background as a CPA would be a valuable asset in figuring out a way to get these programs back.
"I will use my knowledge of budgets and expenses during the budget process to eliminate any unneeded costs, and use those savings to bring back the needed media specialists and world language teachers," she said, noting that she is a big believer in increasing efficiency through sharing services with the town.
Another important resource, she said, is technology.
"We have come a long way in the past few years, but there is still much to be accomplished," said Cogan. "I will work with the administration to identify the areas where we can replace outdated modes of education with less costly alternatives. Some examples of this would be using on-line textbooks, PDAs and open-source educational resources."
Ultimately, she said, the aim is to focus on students and education.
"There have been too many controversies over the last few years that have cost the district time and money that should be going to our students," she said. "If elected, I will do everything in my power to help the BOE get back on track."