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: Walter Campbell
Current Age: 73
Bachelor of Arts + 30 credits in Biological & Physical Sciences, Glassboro State College
Retired educator – 38 years teaching high school science at Manasquan High School. I also implemented and taught the Commercial Residential Services program there.
Do you currently receive any public salary compensation? If so, from what public agency?
Yes, I receive a pension from New Jersey State Pension & Annuity Fund.
Have you ever previously held an elected office in Brick or elsewhere?
Yes, I was appointed to fill a vacancy on the Brick Board of Education from 6/28/10 – 12/30/11. I was also elected to the Point Pleasant Board of Education, serving from 1983-1986.
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?
Our administrators and our district should prioritize initiatives that will create a solid foundation for our students as they move from elementary school, to middle school, to high school, to college, and, ultimately, their careers. We should implement as many of these as we can over the next three years, and lay the groundwork and prepare for the rest.
For the youngest of our students we should have a Pre-K program available in our district. This would give these children a head start and prepare them for our full-day Kindergarten program, which could then become more rigorous and prepare them for the primary grades.
At the high school level we should encourage our college-prep students to take four years of both math and science to prepare them for success in college. We should also focus on preparing our district for installation of Subject Academies, which could be shared by both high schools. Some examples would be a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) Academy, a Biotechnology Academy (aquaculture, hydroponic, horticulture), Visual/Performing Arts Academy, and a Commercial Residential Services Academy (building maintenance, landscape design, and maintenance). This concept has been very successful in surrounding areas in Monmouth County and would be a great benefit to our Brick students!
Throughout all grades in our district we should prioritize reading comprehension and outstanding writing skills, which are absolutely key to success in school and beyond. If we can provide every student with great reading comprehension and writing skills, we have given them a lifelong means to success!
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?
The same academic priorities discussed in the first question will lead to both college and career success. A student with good reading comprehension and strong writing skills can accomplish everything from successfully obtaining a college degree to reading (or writing!) technical manuals for a job. Subject Academies would provide skills and career options to our students.
Another program initiative that would help our students after they graduate would be an Internship Program where high school juniors and seniors could get hands-on experience in various businesses and vocations. Our county vocational programs are overburdened and highly selective and specialized. We need to provide these opportunities to our students on our own! Once these Subject Academies are realized they would also provide a source of revenue to our district by allowing out-of-district students to attend as tuition students.
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?
There are many obstacles contributing to a lack of engagement between many children and their parents. Over 60% of families in our state are single-parent homes, which has many inherent challenges. Most two-parent homes have both parents working full-time just to survive with an ever-increasing cost of living. While there are many positive aspects of social media, many students overuse it and become less engaged with their parents. All these obstacles can also lead to a lack of engagement between parents and the academic experience of their children. Great engagement will lead to greater student achievement.
In recent years the Board of Education has engaged many avenues of communication to involve parents and community members, such as making meetings available online and on BTV, online newsletters, website updates, Parent Universities, and achievement recognitions. These have all helped, but we need to do even more. A thoughtful survey to all parents in the district would be a great starting point to determine the best ways to connect with our parents and the areas which they feel that would benefit the most. Quarterly presentations in each school for the parents which tell them what is going on with our programs would be a great benefit. The same parent who may not be interested in sitting through a Board of Education meeting may feel more comfortable at his/her child’s familiar school with familiar faces, hearing about things specific to that school or grade level. After presentations, parents could ask questions and feel more engaged in the whole process.
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?
I have been heavily involved with the upgrades to our district’s facilities over the past several years. In addition to the time I served on the Board of Education, I also volunteered as a Facilities Consultant for the district for over 2 ½ years. Many great projects have already been completed, but we need to continue energy-related upgrades to our HVAC systems. We also need to prioritize proper maintenance of all of our buildings and grounds, especially all these new upgrades in which the district invested. It is important to make sure we don’t raise property taxes to pay for these needs! Our residents have enough financial burdens and should not be given more through large tax increases or costly referendums. Programs like energy savings improvement plans and grants used for safety and facility upgrades are examples of options that can be used to complete projects with creative funding.
My extensive knowledge and experience with our district facilities is one of the greatest assets I can bring to our district as a member of the Board of Education. I have demonstrated success in this area, and I would greatly appreciate the opportunity to help bring about even more improvements throughout the district. Every student and every resident of Brick should be proud of both the educational system and the physical buildings of our schools!
Brick Township Schools Completed District Projects from 2011-2015
Stadium bleachers (Brick H.S.)
New science labs (Brick H.S.)
New gym lockers (Brick H.S., Brick Memorial H.S., Lake Riviera Middle School)
Roof replacements (Emma Havens Young, Midstreams Elementary)
Replaced electrical system (Brick H.S.)
HVAC upgrades – air conditioners & boilers (Brick H.S.)
Replaced windows in critical areas (Brick H.S.)
Exterior door replacements (in 8 schools)
Foyer realignment (Midstreams Elementary, Emma Havens Young)
Boiler replacement (Herbertsville Elementary, Osbornville Elementary, Primary Learning Center)
Gym/cafeteria area of Osbornville School –new windows and air conditioning
New fire alarm systems (in 7 schools)
Renovation of Brick Memorial H.S. gym including air conditioning
Renovation of Brick Memorial H.S. auditorium
New running track (Brick Memorial H.S.)
Gym lighting replacements (in 6 schools)
New chiller (Brick Memorial H.S.)
Lighting retrofits (Lanes Mill & Emma Havens Young)
Window replacement in 1980 section of Brick Memorial
Emergency lighting systems (Brick Memorial, Veterans Memorial Middle)
Currently in progress: Replacement of exterior windows in 7 schools