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: Stephanie Ann Wohlrab
Current Age: 44
Educational Background: Peddie School, Hightstown, NJ; Helene Fuld School of Nursing
Current Occupation; Do you currently receive any public salary compensation? If so, from what public agency?
Business Owner/Fundraiser. No public salary/compensation
Have you ever previously held an elected office in Brick or elsewhere?
No. First time running for office.
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?
In setting the academic priorities over the next three years, District Central administration should conduct an educational audit of existing programs taking input from building level supervisors and educators. The priorities should then be set with a focus on addressing the needs of all students (regardless of performance level). The District must establish curriculum and programs that prepares each pupil to succeed in life after high school. The priorities should equally focus on Special Education, College Prep and Vocational students.
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?
To advance the District in terms of its pupil achievement on testing for college and career readiness, the Board should focus first on an intensive and broad based search for its next Superintendent. This candidate must be an innovative educational leader with an ability to motivate staff and implement emerging trends and technology into an effective curriculum. The District must conduct and educational audit to identify cost savings in the existing budget to redirect funds more efficiently into the classroom. The Superintendent must implement equitable hiring practice to find the best and the brightest for any new hires and eliminate patronage/cronyism. The District must encourage and provide continuing education and technological support for the wonderful educators we have in District already. The combination of these initiatives will restore the morale of the District educators and ultimately improve pupil achievement.
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?
Parental engagement in the District and the educational process is a key component to pupil achievement. The District can foster that engagement through better collaboration with parents. This can be achieved by a focused effort to engage parents through PTO’s. Also, the District should expand on its communication with parents through use of the District’s on line parent portal. The District must encourage the process via its teaching staff usage of the technology not only for implementation of grades but for identification of assignments and curriculum. If parents can readily view not only test/homework results but also upcoming assignments and curriculum, they will be in a better position to effectively discuss material and performance with their children; and identify areas of need in communicating with teachers.
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?
A building and grounds committee of the Board should be tasked with meeting with administrative staff and maintenance staff at all of the District’s facilities to identify short term and long term facilities needs. The annual budget must address those short term needs with a five year plan to spread out budgeted costs to stay under cap. For larger necessary projects that require referendum, the District must involve the public in an open and transparent process to prove the necessity of the investment in the facilities for the benefit of the overall public. It is the District’s responsibility to the taxpayers of Brick Township to insure that the funds required leave no fat on the bone.