Patch reached out to the ten candidates running for three open Middletown Board of Education seats and asked them questions about themselves and their vision for the community.
The terms of Board President Chris Aveta and members Vincent Brand and John Bennett, Jr. expire this year. Bennett joined the board last year, filling a one-year unexpired term. All incumbents are in the running for their seats.
The seven challengers are: Bob Banta, Richard G. Campbell, Michael Craig, Rocco DelGuercio, Michael A. Donlon, Anastasia Millicker and Michael J. Ostrander, Jr.
Polls open on Tuesday, Nov. 5.
Below are responses from candidate Anastasia Millicker:
Can you please provide a brief bio, including how long you’ve lived in Middletown and your ties to the community?
I am an undergraduate senior at Rutgers University–New Brunswick attending the School of Environmental and Biological Sciences and the School of Communications and Information studying journalism and mass media; political science; and environmental policy, institutions, and behavior with the pre-law option. I serve as a research assistant for PBS Open Mind and as a communication assistant for the Rutgers School of Engineering. I am a part of the Middletown Lions Club and I have participated in multiple community groups throughout the years including MYAA softball. I have been a Middletown resident for more than 17 years and I currently have three siblings in the Middletown school district. I, myself, attended Bayview Elementary School in my primary years.
What are your motivations for running for elected office?
I believe in a strong educational foundation that students can further build on upon starting in the elementary school level and when we have classrooms about 30 students to one teacher with students of varied levels included in one classroom is not the most conducive learning environment. There needs to be a further academic evaluation done on all levels of the school district.
What new ideas do you have for Middletown schools?
Some of the ideas I have for Middletown schools include more STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) programs starting in the elementary program, more recreational athletic programs for students of all levels.
What challenges do Middletown schools currently face, and what do you plan to do to address them?
One of the major issues facing Middletown schools is education equity in meeting both the academic and social needs of the entire school population in the district especially on the elementary school level. While we have advanced our middle schools and high schools in the district to accommodate technological advances and demands of education, our elementary schools are behind. In the 2013 New Jersey Department of Education NJ School Performance Report, many elementary school within the district were found to be lagging in some aspect including college and career readiness and academic performance. An academic evaluation on the current education programs needs to be conducted to correct these deficiencies. A focus needs to be set on academic curriculum and social development on all levels for all students. Through programming partnerships with community and municipal councils as well as an academic evaluation of current programs, I believe we can tackle some of the major issues facing Middletown Schools.
Property taxes are always a concern, especially in New Jersey. How can Middletown control taxes?
The previous board has done a prudent job in keeping school taxes under the state cap of 2-percent. I take a fiscally responsible stance where as a board member, I will work toward ensuring that students and teachers have the resources they need to effectively and efficiently learn and teach both inside and outside the classroom. Further research should be done into looking toward additional state funding and grants that could help provide more educational resources while not burdening the Middletown community.
What accomplishments in your private life translates positively to a position in public office?
I serve as a representative for 35,000 undergraduate students at Rutgers in which I was apart of the council that approved an $800,000 budget for more than 350 students groups. I have experience allocating a budget in which I removed personal agendas and worked constructively as a board. I am a strong believer in higher education and I want to promote my values of education and pass on my passion for education to Middletown by serving on the board.
Disclosure: Anastasia Millicker previously worked at Patch as a freelance writer and intern.