BRICK – Brick Township residents will have the chance to decide between four candidates to fill two seats on the Board of Education in the November election.
Current members Melita Gagliardi and Daisy Haffner have stated they are not seeking re-election, leaving two open seats on the board.
School board races are supposed to be nonpartisan, so the candidates aren’t referred to by their political party. Instead, they are allowed to have a short slogan after their name.
The candidates fighting for a seat on the board include: Frances DiBenedictis, Madeline Iannarone, Erin Wheeler, and Maureen Molz.
Wheeler, who is a high school chemistry teacher, currently serves as an Alternate Commissioner on the Brick MUA.
“I attend monthly meetings and committee meetings as well. Additionally, I serve as the Membership and Activities Co-Chairperson for the Cedarcroft Community Association,” Wheeler said.
When asked what are the biggest issues the school district is currently facing, she said, “some concerns that I would address would be to enhance communication with parents and the community, continue to improve infrastructure using state and federal funds and further develop students’ 21st century skills.”
As a veteran educator, Wheeler said she is committed to increasing student achievement and developing a strategic plan to continue to move Brick schools forward.
“I will work diligently to represent the needs of the entire Brick community, listen to concerns of all stakeholders and utilize my experience in education to help make Brick schools better for every student. Furthermore, I will continue to foster the collaborative relationship between the Board of Education, the superintendent, parents and the staff of Brick schools. Through teamwork and effective cooperation, I will work with the current Board members to achieve our goals. As a Board member, I will lead with kindness and respect to make decisions that benefit the students, staff and community of Brick,” she said.
Molz is a retired engineer and previously worked for the Federal Aviation Administration and the U.S. Army. She holds a Bachelor’s and Master’s Degree in Electrical Engineering and a Master’s degree in Strategic Studies from the US Army War College.
Molz believes the biggest challenges facing the district are safety, loss of state funding, post COVID academic and mental health challenges and infrastructure.
“These challenges require listening to stakeholders, analyzing pertinent data and information, and compromise to form reasonable solutions and remedies that can be implemented,” Molz said. “As a retired engineer, program manager and strategic leader for 32 years, I have successfully worked on various complex issues facing our warfighters and the aviation community. I have the experience, skill set, time and talent to achieve workable solutions. I will maintain the current positive relationships with colleagues and offer help wherever I can be of use to the Board.”
When asked if there’s anything new that she would want to do in the district she said, “I would like to understand the genesis for the current test score levels and how we can set policy that would support greater learning and thus increase test scores.”
DiBenedictis is currently a stay-at-home mom who previously has been a teacher’s aide, one-on-one shadow for special needs children, and a Montessori teacher. She is also currently a Girl Scout Leader.
DiBenedictis explained that the biggest issue facing the distract is lack of transparency.
“Parents minds go to the worst things when we are not forthright. If we were to tell them what is happening – all the good, bad, ugly and in-between – we would be in such better shape. I will always be honest and upfront,” DiBenedictis said. “I want to be honest and transparent. I want parents to actually have a say in their own children’s education. I will not make them believe that they have a choice and then tell them that just because the government says different, they no longer have an actual choice in their children’s/student’s education.”
Attempts to reach Madeline Iannarone were unsuccessful at the time of publication. The 2022 General Election Day will be held on November 8.