Candidates Voice Their Concerns In Howell School Board Race

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  HOWELL – Several candidates are competing for seats on the Howell Board of Education and the Farmingdale Board of Education in the November election.

  Additionally, there are also representatives who are looking to fill seats for Freehold Regional High School Board of Education.

  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.

  A total of five candidates have filed for three, full-term seats on the Howell Township Board of Education. Two current members who are seeking re-election are Laurence Gurman and Cristy Mangano. Two other candidates fighting for a seat are Alexandria Langenberger and Joseph Mauer Jr.

  Mangano is a full time Registered Nurse with certification as a Forensic Nurse Examiner. She’s a mother of five children who all are a part of the Howell School District. She’s served on Howell Township Board of Education since 2017.

  “I have been the Community Interaction Chairperson for the last two years serving during one of the most difficult times we have witnessed in education. This has given me the opportunity to meet parents, children, guardians, staff and be able to have open dialogue with what is going on within our schools and what concerns there are. I have also served on various committees over the years such as the policy committee, operations and Township Liaison. Being able to serve on these committees has given me a lot of experience in different areas of the board of education,” Mangano said.

  Mangano explained how she believes that there are many challenges facing school districts today.

  “I think first we have to deal with the aftermath of what COVID did to our educational system and how to focus on getting the children back on track academically, socially and emotionally. We need to make sure our teachers and staff are supported as well during these difficult times. I think as a district we are prepared to offer students, teachers and staff with as much support as they require. I feel this is one of our biggest priorities right now and as a BOE member I would make sure that steps are being taken to do this,” Mangano said. “We in Howell will be facing budget cuts coming to us over the next few years. We have been very fiscally responsible over the years and as a board member I would continue to be aware of those budget cuts and work hard to benefit not only the children but the taxpayers as well. We also have the issue of school safety and Howell is a leader in this area and always being proactive in maintaining the safety of our children and staff.”

  Mangano also added, “I have been blessed to be a part of an amazing school district and have my children attend Howell Schools. We lead in so many areas and I would like to continue to see the district work hard in the area of social emotional learning for all students. Times have changed so much and we really need to be aware of all the influences our children face today.”

  Gurman previously taught at Monmouth College (now Monmouth University), and worked for the Office of Legislative Services for 41 years. There, he would serve in a non-partisan capacity, analyzing policy issues, drafting legislation, and assisting legislators as bills proceeded through the legislative process.

  Gurman has served on the board for nine years during a previous tenure. During that time, he was Board Vice-President for one year and at times was a member of the Education Committee, Finance Committee, Policy Committee, Community Relations Committee and Nutrition Committee. He also chaired the Education, Finance and Policy Committees.

  Gurman was the Chairman of the Howell Township Education Foundation for four years. In 2015, he was selected as Howell Township Citizen of the Year by the Howell Chamber of Commerce.

  During his current tenure, he was elected again to the board in 2016. During that time, he’s also been a member of various committees including the Education Committee, Community Interaction Committee, Policy Committee and Legislative Advocacy Committee, and, at times, chairing the Policy and Legislative Advocacy Committees.

  “Working together, we can continue our commitment to promoting excellence in our schools. My goals are to provide a quality education for all the children in our schools; use our tax dollars for education wisely and efficiently; and encourage community participation and support for the educational process to provide our youth, who are our community’s and nation’s most precious resource, with the opportunity to develop to their full potential,” he said.

  Gurman also believes that current educational objectives should continue to be pursued and enhanced. This includes fostering learning environments that emphasize personalized learning, student empowerment and standards aligned student growth; sustaining a positive culture of learning while supporting the social and emotional needs of all members of our school community; and transforming educational settings through the use of technology to foster positive learning environments.

  “The school district’s responsible fiscal policies should be continued by promoting existing practices, such as energy savings programs, shared services agreements, central purchasing, inventory controls and long-term financial planning. This work is particularly crucial because of the State’s change to the school funding formula, commonly known as S-2. In 2009, the Howell Township School District received $36 million in state aid. By 2025, it is anticipated that according to the current state funding formula the school district will receive $16 million for the year, $20 million less for the year than it received in 2009,” Gurman added.

  Langenberger is a stay-at-home mother with three children and also is the sole proprietor of Monmouth County Doula, LLC, where she provides support, education and empowerment for pregnant women as a birth coach and doula. Additionally, she is a founding member of Sister Circle, which is a local group dedicated to strengthening the individual through collaboration and networking.

  Langenberger stated that running for a seat on the Board of Education is her first volunteer opportunity to serve the community, “and to protect the childhood of my children and those of Howell Township by ensuring political agendas are not prioritized over safeguarding our children’s futures.”

  When asked what is the biggest issues facing the district, she said, “While superficially there exists a collaboration between administration and the Board, the disconnect exists in the filter of communication between them. While the Board annually creates and amends district policy with the assistance of dedicated community committee members, the impact of such changes in the classroom are often filtered through the lens of success regardless of the tangible outcome. It is time for the Board to regularly engage in discussions with the front-line educators implementing those changes to receive meaningful feedback as to their effectiveness.

  “School bullying, playground safety, and student transportation are common issues and I look forward to the opportunity to work with our community to find collaborative resolutions,” Langenberger said.

  She also added that she supports any initiative that improves children’s futures and ensures that the policies and practices of Howell Township prioritize those needs.  

  Attempts to reach Joseph Mauer Jr. were unsuccessful at the time of publication.

  In addition, incumbent Marc Parisi is looking to return for a seat as the Howell representative for the Freehold Regional High School Board of Education. Incumbent Kathie Lavin will also be running as the Farmingdale representative for the Freehold Regional High School Board of Education. Eric Daniels is running to fill one of two seats open tor Farmingdale Borough Board of Education.

  The 2022 General Election Day will be held on November 8.