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The Record from Hackensack, New Jersey • Page L4
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The Record from Hackensack, New Jersey • Page L4

The Recordi
Hackensack, New Jersey
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L-4 THE RECORD 2P LOCAL NEWS THURSDAY, APRIL 14, 2005 SCHOOL ELECTION GUIDES Sharp differences among city candidates AT STAKE: Three, three-year terms on a nine-member board. CANDIDATES FOR THREE-YEAR TERMS: Pedro Martinez, 53, of Lisa Court is assistant vice president for academic affairs at William Paterson University. He is running for a second term. Martinez is a member of the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Northern New Jersey. He and his wife, Mayra, have two children attending public elementary school.

Top priority: Using technology to improve eighth-grade math scores, and increasing parental awareness of student progress by having teachers post homework assignments and student status reports on an Internet site David Stanziale, 38, of Tamboer Drive, is an attorney in West Orange. He and his wife, Gina, have three children, all of whom attend local public schools. Stanziale is active with UNI CO in North Hale-don and is a baseball, basketball and soccer coach. Top priority: Backing the referendum on new school construction. "I'm looking to benefit the children, not just mine but the future." Bruce Stoll, 49, of Degray Street, is an electrician.

He is a former member of the Manchester school board. Stoll could not be reached for information on his candidacy. BUDGET: The proposed 2005-06 budget of $6,77,700 is an increase of $358,756 over the current year's. It would require a tax levy, including debt service, of $6,036,742, which is $133,797 more than the current school year's. Voters on Tuesday will decide on a general fund tax levy of $5,972,017.

The proposed tax levy would result in a $57.31 tax decrease on a typical home in town, assessed at $130,000. Taxes will decrease for the average assessed home despite the increase in the tax levy because of an increase in tax-generating property to share the burden. BALLOT QUESTION: AT STAKE: (Four seats on nine-member board) CANDIDATES FOR THREE, THREE-YEAR TERMS: Chauncey I. Brown III, 42, of East 28th Street, is married, with three children; one attends Paterson public schools. Brown is a firefighter, second vice president of the Passaic County School Board Association, and a past member of the Board of Recreation.

Vivian English, 58, of Preakness Avenue, is single with one adult child. She is a secretary at the Paterson Board of Education and a member of Madison Avenue Christian Reformed Church. Jonathan Hodges, 49, of Overlook Avenue is single. He is a physician, a member of the board of trustees at Paterson YMCA, and a past board member of Paterson Education Fund. Errol S.

Kerr, 52, of East 30th Street, is married with two children, one of whom attended city schools. A supervisor for Glory U.S.A. Inc. in West Caldwell, Kerr also is vice president of Caribbean Empowerment Program of New Jersey and a member of Paterson chapter of NAACP. Erik Lowe, 37, of Sussex Street is divorced with three children, all in city schools.

He is a manager for Wachovia Bank and a member of the NAACP, United Negro College Fund, St. Luke Baptist Church, school management team at Garret Morgan Academy and the Alexander Hamilton Academy PTA. Carmen E. Rodriguez, 50, of East 39th Street, is divorced with four adult children, and is assistant director of Community Action for Social Affairs, board secretary for Paterson Community Health Center and president of United Puerto Rican Day Parade. Lawrence Spagnola, 58, of McBride Avenue, is married with five children.

He is police chief, president of the advisory board of the Salvation Army, a member of the Passaic County minorities' concerns committee and a member of Police Chiefs Association of Passaic County. Luis A. Velez, 37, of Michigan Avenue, is married with four children, three in public schools and one graduated. He is a public safety officer at Willowbrook Mall, president of the Home School Council at East-side High School, a Community Emergency Response Team member and a board member of the United Puerto Rican Day Parade. CANDIDATES FOR AN UNEXPIRED ONE-YEAR TERM: Carmine 0.

Pellosie 63, of Arlington Avenue, is married, with two children, one of whom attended Paterson schools. Pellosie is director of recreation for Passaic County, president of the Foundation of Hope and a member of the Disabled American Veterans. Juan "Mitch" Santiago, 39, of George Street, is single with nine children, five in public schools and two graduates of Paterson schools. He is deputy chief inspector of Paterson's Department of Public Works, an investigator at Passaic County Sheriffs Department and president of the Roberto Clemente Memorial Committee. BUDGET: to offer new solutions to the schools' problems.

"Having a new vision is coming up with better curriculum, better safety in the schools, better maintenance of the schools," Velez said. "If you cannot build new schools, you have to have a vision of how you have to repair old schools." Erik Lowe, who is making his third run for the school board, also believes that the district, which lost $50 million that was misappropriated during the tenure of former Superintendent Edwin Duroy, needs to institute fiscal as well as curricular reforms. "With the trouble this district has been in financially," Lowe said, "we need a cost-effective system of checks and balances, as well as monthly audits of all departments to make sure the money is being spent properly and accounted for." Spagnola, suspended as police chief as he faces conflicts with the mayor, believes that if elected, his presence on the board will encourage fiscal responsibility. "There's a bit of money missing. That's a concern of mine," Spagnola said.

"I think if a police officer or myself was on the board it would put people on notice to walk the straight and narrow." Although he too believes the district's finances ought to be better supervised, Errol Kerr stresses his interest in improving the academics the system offers. "Primarily, I'd like to see an improvement in the test scores that our students are returning," Kerr said. "When you compare it with the surrounding districts, we are way behind." Carmen Rodriguez, the assistant director of Community Affairs, wants to eliminate the kind of political infighting that has characterized the run-up to this year's election. "They put the Board of Education as a political issue," Rodriguez said. "We're more here for the students, the parents and the teachers." Chauncey I.

Brown III said that the board has been crippled by being under state control. He wants it instead to focus on recrafting the board's policy manual. "We can talk and complain about things, but we don't have the authority to change it," Brown said. "We don't have the authority to be effective." Another returning candidate, Vivian English, agrees that the schools' finances should be at the By TOM MEAGHER SPECIAL TO THE RECORD PATERSON Those running in the crowded Board of Education race, featuring 10 candidates for four seats, seemingly agree on one thing: The schools need to be repaired, reformed and rejuvenated. Otherwise, the hopefuls, who include three failed contenders from previous elections and three incumbents, agree on little else.

Board President Jonathan Hodges has drawn criticism from community groups and board members alike for not involving city residents enough in the selection process of the next superintendent. One of those critics, past President Juan "Mitch" Santiago, described the board as being in disarray. Santiago, who seeks the unfinished one-year term of former member William Kline, said that he chose not to run for a third full term because he believes several Latino candidates were put on the ballot to take votes away from him. Instead, he is challenged solely by Passaic County Director of Recreation Carmine O. Pellosie Jr.

"The hidden agenda is with some board members that wanted to split the vote and take me out," Santiago said. "The board sticking together? Absolutely not. It's horrendous. It's incredible how this community has to put up with this garbage." His challenger, Pellosie, said he chose to run for the one-year term at the behest of board member Joseph Atallo and fellow candidate Lawrence Spagnola. A self-described rabble-rouser, he vowed to shake up the board and the problem-plagued district.

If successful after a year, he may choose to run for a full term. "No more business as usual -you can't do that," Pellosie said. "You can't keep saying that's the way it's always been done. I want total accountability." For his part, Hodges argued that the board has made great strides toward reform. "Other boards had believed their role was simply to rubber stamp what the then-superintendent did," Hodges said.

"There wasn't the sense or expectation in this district that our students could do better or our staff could support them in better or different ways. There just seemed to be a malaise here." Luis Velez, a father of four, wants to use his insight as a parent Suzanne Travers None. denotes incumbent AT STAKE: Two three-year terms on a seven-member board. CANDIDATES FOR THREE-YEAR TERMS: Dr. Allen Kirk, 48, of Moon Shadow Court, is the vice president of the board and is running for his second term.

A podiatrist, he is married, with three children, all of whom attend Kinnelon public schools. He is a member of the Jewish Congregation of Kinnelon and has been active in youth sports in town. Top priority: Improving SAT scores at Kinnelon High School, which should enable students to be accepted to better colleges. Kirk also favors renovating athletic fields, which are in short supply. He supports adoption of the 2005-06 school budget's tax proposal that will go before voters on Tuesday.

William Hickey, 47, of Arrowhead Trail, works in the Finance Department of Verizon Wireless. He is married, with a son who is a freshman in Kinnelon High. He ran for school board in 2003 and lost. Top priority: Ensuring that the curriculum prepares students for college and to pass standardized tests. Hickey also supports adoption of the school budget tax proposal.

BUDGET: The proposed 2005-06 budget of $502 million is an increase of $45 million over the current year's budget, which would be contributed by the would require a tax levy, including debt service, of $36 million, which is the same as this year's budget. As a state-run district, Paterson's budget is subject solely to the approval of the state Department of Education. Voters on Tuesday will decide on the general fund tax levy of $36 million. The proposed tax levy would require no tax increase on a typical home in town, assessed at $20,000. Tom Meagher denotes incumbent forefront of the board's work.

A secretary for the school district, English also wants to deepen the involvement of parents. "I think everybody in Paterson wants to tackle the same issues in the front of their minds," English said. "We've just got to dig our feet in and get busy. I don't think it's just the board's responsibility. The people of Paterson need to come out." The proposed 2005-06 budget of $29,704,483 is an increase of $1,251,794 over the current year's.

It would require a tax levy, including debt service, of $26,828,109, which is $2,016,615 more than the current school year's. Voters on Tuesday will decide on the general fund tax levy of $24,524, 140. The tax levy would require a $335 tax increase on a typical home in town, assessed at $390,000. Richard Cowen denotes incumbent Candidates agree: Restore control to local board AT STAKE: Three three-year seats on a nine-member board. CANDIDATES: its appointed superintendent.

The board serves in an advisory capacity, and the superintendent has the power to veto any of its decisions. The state is now developing an accountability system that supporters believe would allow the three state-run districts, including Paterson, to regain partial control as soon as next year. Everyone connected to the city and its schools wants to wrest the district back from the state. "I'd love to make that happen. I don't think it's going to happen, because we're talking about a half-billion dollar budget," said Carmine Pellosie, a candidate for a one-year term.

"Nobody's going to let that up so quick, and we're talking big, big money here." The money that flows from the state to Paterson, more than $420 million in the 2004-05 budget, has been a regular target of graft and embezzlement. Board President Jonathan Hodges, however, said he and his colleagues have worked to ensure that the money coming to Paterson benefits the students. "We're prosecuting people who took advantage of our school system," Hodges said. "And we're suing others trying to recover some of the monies and punish people." Incumbent Chauncey I. Brown, who is also seeking a seat in the state Assembly as a Republican, acknowledged his frustration over the board's impotence.

He'd like to see the board evaluate and revise the district's policy manual so that when it does regain control from the state, it will be experienced and prepared. "The state has had our hands tied, so to speak. We don't have any authority to implement change effective change," Brown said. "What we need to do as a board is focus on policy assessment, development and implementation." In the meantime, police chief and candidate Lawrence Spagnola wants to secure the support of the city's parents and other residents for the district's efforts. "Local control is all well and good, but how about having local involvement?" said Spagnola.

"We have to have the community feel that they're part of the process." Carmen Rodriguez, the assistant director of Community Action for Social Affairs, also wants to focus the board's attention on its true customers. "Local control or not, it's the students that we have to dedicate ourselves to," Rodriguez said. By TOM MEAGHER SPECIAL TO THE RECORD PATERSON Nearly all of the candidates for the Board of Education want Paterson to control its own school district. Yet some believe the state is unlikely to cede control back to the local board after 14 years, and few can agree on what the board would do were it granted local control. "What do we have? We have low test scores, we have corruption, we have mismanagement.

This is a state-run district and nothing has been done," candidate Errol Kerr said. "We need to say to the state: Listen, your record since you got here is abysmal." The state took over the chronically failing Paterson schools in 1991, and the Department of Education governs operations through Bruce Zeman, 35, of Molinari Drive is the director of purchasing for Tech Trading Wyckoff. He is a member of the Wanaque Beautification Committee and the Passaic County Motion Picture and Television Committee. He and his wife, Jillayne, also are involved in animal rights work. Top priority: "Fiscal responsibility," Zeman says.

"I'm the director of purchasing for an import-export company. I've been in purchasing for about 16 years, so I think I'm experienced enough to help balance the budget and to also help continue with some of the progress that's already been made. There are some things on the burner this year, like paving the school parking lots, improving communication with the parents, that I'd like to be involved with. Also, some people think that the buildings and the infrastructure are more important, but I feel it's the community. There should be a feeling of inclusion; we should all come together for the kids." Tom Burgess, 42, of Mountain Lakes Drive is a health-and-safe-ty manager for Blasland, Bouck and Lee Inc.

in Manhattan. He and his wife Amy, have two children, both of whom attend Wanaque School. He is active in the PTA's school budget committee and was a Little League coach from 2002-04. Top priority: "My first interest will always be for our children's education, for continuous improvement and for building a strong future for our children and our community," Burgess says. "Secondly, I will be a steward of our money.

As taxpayers, we need to know that our money is being spent wisely." Lee Smith, 45, lives on Roseland Avenue in Haskell with his wife, Gail, and two young daughters, one of whom attends Haskell School. Smith is a project manager for a laminating company. He is on the Board of Adjustment and the Open Space Advisory committee and is a life member of the Hawk Migration Association. Top priority: "I'm running for the first time, number one, to work with the board of education as a team and to give more prominence to the parents," Smith says. "We need better communication between the board and the parents.

It comes down to communication. And number two, to improve school facilities. They definitely need to be upgraded and maintained." BUDGET: The proposed 2005-06 budget of $12,738,048 is an increase of $584,222 over the current year's. It would require a tax levy, including debt service, of $9,493,970, which is $425,438 more than the current school year's. Voters on Tuesday will decide on the general fund tax levy of $9,432,336.

The proposed tax levy would require a $114 tax increase on a typical home in town, assessed at $132,853. BALLOT QUESTION: towa must pay for almost 40 percent of the regional high school's budget. He would like to see the formula, which now depends on factors including taxable property and numbers of students, changed to stress the number of students that each town sends to the school. He also wants to make sure that the school's high standards are maintained. To do that, he proposes bringing additional honors classes to the school or arranging partnerships with area colleges to send advanced students there.

BUDGET: AT STAKE: Three three-year seats on a nine-member board CANDIDATES FOR THREE-YEAR TERMS: Lenny Cusumano 24, Rockland Avenue in West Paterson, is a physical education and health teacher at Pascack Hills High School in Montvale. Single, Cusumano graduated from Passaic Valley in 1999 and Syracuse University in 2003. Top priority: Cusumano wants to ensure that the school continues to attract quality teachers with experience. He would like to encourage students from the three sending towns to go to Passaic Valley instead of attending private schools and make sure that parents know the school offers a program as strong as private schools. He also wants to make sure that students get the best education possible with the least increase in taxes.

He pledges to listen to parents about what they would like to see the school doing for their children. Toni Belford Damiano 51, of Tivoli Court, is an attorney in town. Married, with three children, Damiano is president of the Board of Education and has served as a board member for four years. She coaches basketball and baseball at the Little Falls Athletic Club and plays on the women's softball league in town. Her youngest child attends Little Falls public schools; her middle child attends Montclair Kimberley Academy, a private high school; and her eldest child is in college and attended Little Falls public schools and Passaic Valley High School.

Top priority: Damiano would like to continue making strides in the curriculum, including adding more honors courses. She is proud of the summer arts program, which was recognized by the state this year, and would like to see more arts courses and activities at the school. She said the board is working hard to craft a 2005-06 budget and taxation proposal agreeable to voters in order to maintain the school's programs. Eugene Ridgeway 63, Totowa Road in To-towa, is a retired Totowa school administrator and an adjunct professor of education at William Paterson University. Married, with two grown children, Ridgeway has been on the Passaic Valley board for two years and serves as the chairman of its education committee.

He also is a member of the community alliance student welfare committee. Ridgeway has been a volunteer firefighter in Totowa for 40 years with Fire Company 3. His two children went through Totowa schools Top priority: Ridgeway wants to examine the way the state calculates each town's apportionment of the school budget. This year, To The proposed 2005-06 budget of $18.2 million is an increase of 7.6 percent over the current year's budget of $16.9 million. It would require a tax levy, including debt service, of $16.6 million, which is 5.7 percent more than the current school year's levy of $15.7 million.

Voters on Tuesday will decide on the general fund tax levy of $16.3 million. In Little Falls, that levy would require a $54 tax increase on a typical home, assessed at an average of $150,000. In Totowa, the levy would require a $68 tax increase on a typical home, assessed at an average of $150,000. And in West Paterson, the levy would result in a $3 tax decrease on a typical home, assessed at an average of $150,000. Amy Kovac denotes incumbent None.

Cathy Krzeczkowski.

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