JACKSON – Three candidates are competing for two seats on the Board of Education during the Nov. 5 general election. The township has no municipal contest this year.
Those running include incumbents Michael Walsh and Thomas J. Colucci as well as challenger Selene Haskins.
Incumbent Michael Walsh, 61, of Leanne Drive is a retired school administrator/teacher/coach who has served nearly three years on the board.
“I have been a part of many subcommittees such as finance, scholarship (president), facilities and I have been a part of the budget process from both sides as an athletic director in Jackson and science supervisor,” Walsh said.
Walsh said the most pressing issues to face the school district includes the S2 state aid funding formula. The district’s appropriations “will be cut by millions of dollars in the next couple of years, then there is the selection of a new superintendent, maintaining the Special Education requirements for the increased number of special education students and most important maintaining the high standards of our curriculum with needed technology.”
The candidate seeks to help keep the Jackson community in high standards of education without overburdening people’s taxes.
Walsh said his experience as a retired school administrator “with the everyday working of a school district” will serve him if re-elected.
He added that he’d like to see improvements in transportation, in which the new bus terminal will help. Walsh said he’d like to see “improvements in the social communication process which are going on” through teachers, faculty and students.
Thomas Colucci, 63, of Danielle Court is an airline pilot and has served on the board for the last six years.
“We have made steady progress in improving the Jackson School District in several areas,” Colucci said.
“My primary concern is the State school funding formula and the massive cuts that we and neighboring school districts have experienced,” Colucci said, adding that the district’s School Superintendent Dr. Stephen Genco was outstanding. “His knowledge and experience have been evident in school performance results and the steady ship that he runs.”
Colucci said that by running again for the school board, “I can participate in the selection of the next School Superintendent for the Jackson School District. I want to ensure that the next candidate possesses the same outstanding characteristics as Dr. Genco, to make the Jackson School District the success it has been in the last several years.”
The candidate added that he wants to follow through on several district improvement projects. “The completion of the satellite bus transportation center, on the Jackson Liberty High School property, will allow our school busses to be operated more efficiently and improve our maintenance,” Colucci said.
Colucci added, “the ESIP (Energy Savings Improvement Program), part of NJ Clean Energy Program, allows us to make energy related improvements to our facilities and pay for the costs using the value of the energy savings that result from the improvements.
“Sustainable Jersey for Schools is a certification program for New Jersey Schools that want to go green. Since I’ve been on the School Board, we have achieved three silver and one bronze award for being able to conserve resources in the Jackson School District. I want to continue and improve that performance by serving another term if elected,” Colucci said.
Challenger Selene Haskins, 56, resides on Westlake Court and
currently serves as an outreach minister in Berkeley Township.
“I work with over 200 youth daily. I am also the founder and CEO of Scars to Stars Inc. My organization is geared towards youth/adults who have been victimized,” Haskins said.
Haskins said she is a newcomer to the Jackson Board of Education. “However, I previously served on Rockland County, Piscataway, Edison and South Brunswick Boards of Education in the early 80s and 90s. I truly enjoy being a voice for the people.”
The candidate’s campaign slogan is “A New Beginning” and she wants to bring a “a new beginning to the board. While I am a newcomer (to the Jackson Board) I plan to visit a lot of strong concerns of our taxpayers. My family and I have invested 17.5 years in this town. I believe in Jackson and I’m willing to advocate until a change can come.”
“The board is very good at listening but slow to take action. I am the solution to the problem. It’s time my voice for this great town be heard,” Haskins said.
Haskins said she would bring her “extensive training and expertise in leadership and servanthood to this incredible BOE. I am up for the challenge and ready to work hard on behalf of the taxpayers.”
The candidate said “Jackson is very slow to change, and I want to be the change that the people want to see.
“Our district is at a huge crossroad. I want to dive right into why; enrollment is decreasing, taxes are on the rise, transportation has been an issue for far too long, there are state aid cut backs, and the list goes on. I’m hoping that the board of education can restart and do some heavy brainstorming to all the whys. Our community and taxpayers want to know,” Haskins said.
“Jackson is such an amazing town to raise a family and I’m looking forward to working with this great group of champions who believe in making our town great again,” Haskins said.