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In Your Opinion: Seamon Makes His Case For School Board Election

By Richard Seamon, Somerset.

My involvement in the Franklin Township School District began in 1998 when I attended a Board of Education meeting due to a transportation issue for my oldest child who was entering Kindergarten. With a younger child at home and a third child on the way, it became very clear to my wife and I that we needed to find ways to invest our time and energy into supporting and improving our school system for our children and all of the children of Franklin Township. Soon after this, I volunteered for the Ad-Hoc Committee on Enrollment Growth, and together with about 30 other residents, I reviewed all aspects of our school district from building uses to transportation to projected enrollments. Ultimately, this community group suggested a new high school be constructed and I was hooked; I was personally invested in my Township and my public schools.

I have served on the Franklin Township Board of Education for over 7 years total; from 2000 to 2003, from 2010 to 2013 and most recently since being reappointed in April 2015. Over the years, I have had the opportunity to serve on many Board Committees such as Finance, Facilities, Communications, Policy, Safety & Security, Social Justice and Strategic Planning. However, my work on the Facilities Committee has had the largest impact on the District and has been the most rewarding for me personally.

During my first term, I worked on passage of the High School referendum and then participated in all aspects of designing the building along with District Administration and my fellow Board members. During my second term, I served as the chair for the Facilities, Transportation & Technology Committee and the Strategic Plan Committee. Through these committees, I managed the successful creation of the District Long Range Facilities Plan, the initial Capital Building plan (which became the One Less Move Referendum), the current Energy Savings Improvement plan, the SEE Program and the District Strategic Plan. I also worked with District administration to identify funding to complete the FHS stadium. Currently, I’m back on Facilities and working with the team to bring the One Less Move Capital Building Program to fruition.

In my opinion, there are two significant issues that will be addressed concurrently and are equal in importance to our community. The first is that our new superintendent, Dr. John Ravally, has inherited numerous ‘interim’ staff members in positions that need to be filled with permanent employees. Considering that all school districts in NJ are competing for the best and brightest, his task will be made even more difficult. Additionally, our district is just getting started with our One Less Move Capital Building Program which, in itself, is a huge undertaking. Fortunately, the Board has recently approved a Construction Management firm that will oversee the day-to-day construction. However, as this building program begins to provide additional spaces in our schools the district will need to continue hiring new administrative and teaching staff. So, over the next three years I would say that District Staffing and Building Construction are two concurrent issues that are inseparably tied together.

Regarding the construction, as I stated the Board has recently approved a Construction Management firm that will oversee the day-to-day construction. The Board Facilities, Transportation and Technology Committee will meet on a continuous basis with our Administration, the CM and both A/E firms to ensure the work proceeds on schedule, within budget and to the requisite quality that we deserve. I hope to continue as a member of this committee in 2016 should I be re-elected. As far as the current and upcoming Personnel challenges, the Board needs to identify, manage and update District Goals and update our District Strategic Plan; in doing so, we provide guidance to Dr. Ravally that he will use when seeking out qualified staff for District administration, individual school principal and future teaching positions. The Board needs to review job descriptions to ensure that the District is seeking the education, certifications and experience that will provide our students with the most qualified staff possible. I look forward to participating in this effort.

Volunteering to enhance a child’s opportunities or to help others in need is something I take very seriously and I’ll always say YES when asked. Our school district is in the midst of a very exciting time; we have a new Superintendent who will successfully lead our schools into the future and; we are beginning a significant facility expansion that will allow the district to address the growing population of our Township, stabilize class sizes, reconfigure our grade levels across all elementary and middle schools, perform priority capital repairs and improvements and expand energy savings upgrades throughout all buildings. I sincerely believe that my background as a Civil Engineer, as well as my experience and knowledge of our school district’s long range facility needs and strategic plan will provide the support that Dr. Ravally and his team need to provide enhanced educational opportunities for all of the children of Franklin Township.

I look forward to continuing my service to our Community as a member of the Franklin Township Board of Education. Please vote for me on November 3rd.

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