BRICK – There are two seats available on the Board of Education, and six candidates are running for the three-year terms, to be decided in November’s general election.
The candidates were emailed and asked about their employment, and if they have any experience in public office and in civic groups.
The six were also asked what they believe the biggest issue is in the Brick school district and how they would address that issue. And finally, they were asked if they have any new ideas for the district.
Here are their responses in alphabetical order by their last name:
Joseph Aulisi, Jr. worked as a sergeant in the Ocean County Prosecutor’s office for 23 years and retired in May 2015. Employees of the prosecutor’s office are not allowed to hold public office, he said, so this would be his first time.
He is on the executive board of Brick United, which raises money for scholarships for Brick high school students. Aulisi, who has two children in Brick Memorial High School, also served as a volunteer football coach for 18 years at Brick High School.
“I plan on going in (as a Board of Education member) without any agenda or specific plan,” he said. “I want to go in and see where the money is being spent, and take a look at the high-end administrative jobs. I’m retired, so I have the time to see why they’re being paid that kind of money.”
Aulisi said he wants to personally invite NJ Senate President Steve Sweeney – “who is saying we’re not paying enough taxes – to take a walk through the Brick schools and tell us we need to have our budget cut.”
John Barton is a schoolteacher in Jackson. He previously served one three-year term on the Board of Education, and served for three years as County Representative to the NJ School Boards Association.
“The biggest issue is having a superintendent to remain with the schools more than one year,” Barton wrote. “I would be sure that board members build a positive working relationship with the newest super once they hire one.”
“The superintendent will have to work to figure out what to do in order to have the district function within the constraints of the budgets that are approved,” he added.
Barton said he thinks the issue of “revolving superintendents” can be helped out with a committee as a whole-style board instead of the current separate committee-style board.
Cassidy “Cas” Busa and Robert “Rob” Canfield are running together under the “It’s Reform Time” banner.
Busa is a patient care representative at Allied Dental and a student at Ocean County College. He is a newcomer to holding a public office, and has no experience in civic groups.
Canfield is a realtor with Weichert Realtors and formerly worked at Allied Dental. He has run for mayor and the Board of Education in the past. He is a volunteer pastor at Full Gospel in Wall and is a former Boy Scout.
Both candidates say the biggest issue facing the district is the need to create alternative revenue sources for the district.
“Raising taxes should not be the solution to this funding crisis,” they wrote. “Merging schools is not a viable option as it would cause strain on the remaining schools. We want to trim the fat from the budget while also creating alternative revenue streams for the school district.”
Busa and Canfield say they would create new revenue streams to save the sports and extracurricular clubs and activities. “These should not be affected because of an act of the state,” they said.
Melita Gagliardi and Daisy Haffner are currently Board of Education members and are running for reelection under the banner “Making a Difference.”
Gagliardi is a Special Education Literacy Teacher at the Christa McAuliffe Middle School in Jackson. She has been a Board member since 2017, and currently serves as the PTA President at Emma Havens Young Elementary School in Brick, where she has been an active member since 2015.
“The loss in state aid for the Brick Public Schools is a major concern for parents and members of our community,” she wrote. “As an educator and mother of two children that attend the Brick Public Schools, I know the value and importance of the school community has on our children. One of my goals is to continue to be a supporter for all the children of Brick. I hope to continue to serve and advocate for all our children, therefore ensuring them a quality and efficient education.”
She said she would like to continue working collaboratively with the district’s educational leaders to ensure the best education for each student, and wants to ensure that the students get the best academics and are emotionally, socially well-adjusted in order to become productive citizens of society.
Haffner previously worked as an accountant at a CPA firm. She is an office manager for Lowy’s Moving Service. She has been on the board since 2017. She was the PTO President at Midstreams Elementary School for 3 years, and was an active PTO/PTA member from 2010 to present. In addition to that, she volunteers with Zzak G. Applaud Our Kids Foundation, BCCT, and is the former President of the Mom’s Club of Brick.
“Tough times call for experience. As we all know, there is no quick fix to any situation our district faces. We need to continue balancing limited funds with the district-wide needs while providing safe and secure learning environments,” she said. “We must continue to focus our energy and attention to the needs of the whole child, so we can provide opportunity and growth for every student. If we all work together and prioritize our students and our schools, we will continue to be a district where parents want to send their children.
“I would love to incorporate more encore classes that can teach or improve upon our student’s life skills, whether it be financial, vocational or humanities driven.”