Editor's note: Patch completes its weeklong series of Board of Education candidate profiles with a look at Richard Gerstl. In case you missed it, here are profiles on , , , , , and . John Harrison is the ninth candidate seeking the three open seats, but he was not able to be reached.
Richard Gerstl said his work as a CPA, expertise in negotiating contracts and experience hiring and terminating workers make him a strong candidate for the Parsippany-Troy Hills Board of Education.
“I think my financial background would be a big help in this day and age,” he said.
Gerstl said he became motivated to run for school board because he was concerned about the town’s financial situation. He said he didn’t agree with the way Superintendent LeRoy Seitz’s contract was handled.
Gerstl said that if elected he would work to make the school board more open and accountable to the public. Too often in the last couple years, he said, the school board seemed to conduct business in a clandestine way.
“With the budget problem last year and the superintendent issue this year, people were not informed they had to go to the meetings and they found out in the newspapers where things would be cut, it was not volunteered,” he said. “I would try and promote more advance input from the townspeople by having their voices better heard.”
To achieve that, he said he would try to facilitate more communication between the board and media outlets in Parsippany.
“The board needs to let people know what was discussed, so they’re more involved about the key issues going on with the town,” he said.
He added that at school board meetings, members of the public have been “told what happened” after the fact and members of the board have been, “answering questions rather than giving the information in advance.”
Gerstl, 51, has a son who is a freshman at Parsippany Hills High School and a daughter who is in sixth grade at Brooklawn Middle School. His wife is a paraprofessional in an autistic classroom at Littleton School. The family moved to Morris Plains six years ago from Morganville in part, Gerstl said, because of the quality of the Parsippany-Troy Hills school district.
“We researched it before we moved here,” he said. “I want to make sure the educations system stays great.”
Gerstl ran for town council in Parsippany and lost. He said he decided to run again for public office after being encouraged by some of the current school board members. He said he has attended a few school board meetings and also tracks the issues online.
Gerstl said he felt there needs to be more cooperation among members of the school board.
“It needs to be more of a team effort,” he said. “There’s been a lot of controversy with the board members not getting along or having their own agenda. You’re there to serve, to be the spokesperson for the schools and for children and to make sure that education is the priority.”