Editor’s note: Each of the 12 candidates running for a seat on the Brick Township Board of Education were sent a questionnaire by Brick Shorebeat. Their answers to our questions will be published on our site verbatim. We have disabled comments on profile articles to ensure the candidates’ statements speak for themselves and readers can decide, without additional, potentially anonymous commentary, their view on those running for office.
Full Name: Lawrence K. Reid
Current Age: 70
Undergraduate degree Bachelor of Arts Bowdoin College
Masters degree in Business Administration from Fairleigh Dickinson University
Retired. Broad business experience working for large corporations as well as owning several small businesses. My background is financial analysis, along with sales and marketing.
Do you currently receive any public salary compensation? If so, from what public agency?
No public salary at this time, nor at any time in the past.
Have you ever previously held an elected office in Brick or elsewhere?
Three year term on the Brick Township Board of Education.
As it presently stands, the administration of the Brick school district remains in flux. What should the academic priorities of our administrators be over the next three years?
Brick school administrators should be focused on increasing the graduation rate for both high schools. In addition, a priority should be placed on increasing the number of students taking advanced placement courses, and the availability of these courses in all subjects in both high schools. Another priority is making sure our special education students are receiving all the services that are appropriate for each individual.
District administrators need to maximize the Journies reading and language program and Math Expressions program in our elementary schools so as to ensure continued academic success in Middle and High School grades.
At its core, a public school district will always be judged based on the achievement of its students. Though Brick’s performance has improved in some areas in recent years based on state data, that same data has repeatedly shown that the Brick district lags in the category of college and career readiness. In a competitive state like New Jersey, what specific initiatives should be put into place to ensure that Brick students will be able to compete in both college and the marketplace with their peers who reside in the state’s highest-performing districts?
Our Brick school district should be initiating a program of Academies to focus students on specific areas of study such as STEM (science, technology and math) where the majority of new, high paying jobs are being created in the marketplace. Additionally, our District should be partnering with Ocean County College and Georgian Court University to bring in programs for both students and parents that will highlight what exactly is needed to be fully prepared for college. Also, rather than just one career day, our District could bring in representatives from various career fields throughout the year, giving students an in-depth overview from people actually working in areas such as healthcare, business and finance, etc.
Most Board of Education meetings are extremely lightly attended. On some occasions, concern has been expressed that not enough parents are engaged in the academic aspects of the school experience. What specific ways can the district better engage parents and members of the community with the aim of bringing them into discussions on academic achievement?
Our District could conduct evening and Saturday seminars for parents to learn about job opportunities and career paths that exist for High School graduates in today’s marketplace. Parental input is key to student performance, and any effort to better inform parents and bring them into discussions on academic achievement would have to be in the evening or weekend to get participation. Perhaps a discussion twice per month starting in October with central administration and Board of Education members attending.
Another specific recommendation would be to alter the format of BOE meetings so that comments from the public and BOE members about academic achievement would be the FIRST item on the agenda, and that way parents would know that 7:00 PM is when they can show up and be heard. As it stands now, parents need to come to meeting and wait an undetermined amount of time (1-2 hours) to get a chance to make public comments, and it isn’t really a discussion about academic achievement.
In recent years, some long-sought facilities improvements have been completed in various school buildings. With the condition and age of the district’s facilities continuing to be a chief concern among Brick residents, which improvements and/or upgrades would you prioritize, and which funding mechanism would you favor to finance those projects?
Upgrading all facilities in the District is an ongoing issue that needs to be part of the regular budget process, with $2 to $3 million set aside in each year’s $145 million school budget to fund these improvements. While on the BOE and Chairman of the Finance Committee of the BOE from 2011 through 2014, I made sure that the monies were set aside and the improvements planned, designed, put out to bid and completed. The time delay can be 2 years from the when the project is approved by the BOE until the time the work is completed. Accordingly, the work at Brick Township HS updating the electrical infrastructure was approved over 2 years ago.
Priorities for those projects would be anything that might be considered to fall into 3 main categories: 1) Improving student safety, 2) improving student performance, such as heat and air conditioning, and 3) energy saving and/or cost saving projects that make the District operations more efficient in spending taxpayer dollars.
Budgeting for priorities in facility improvements by the Board of Education within the existing budget can be accomplished if we work to reduce costs in other areas and always strive to cut waste and increase efficiency.
I need your vote to allow me to follow through on these initiatives.