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In Your Opinion: Vote For Potosnak, Smith And Desai

By John Felix, Somerset.

On Tuesday November 7th, we’ll dutifully exercise our civic responsibilities by electing a new governor as well as state and local representatives. We’ll also have the opportunity to elect three of the nine Franklin Township Board of Education (BOE) officers.

In my opinion, the election of the BOE officials supersedes that of the other offices since these candidates, working with their fellow six colleagues, will determine the path forward of our traditional public schools. Specifically, these candidates are charged with ensuring the attainment of a well-rounded educational experience for all Franklin Township students, and implementing educational polices that sustain academic growth for every child who attends our public schools.

During the past fifteen years, I’ve been an active advocate for the families of our public schools, and as an avid observer of the BOE. I’ve witnessed the few successes and multiple failures of many BOE leadership teams. Regrettably, the latter occurred due to continuous angst among BOE officers and the inability of previous BOE presidents to be effective educational watchdogs for township residents. As a result, the public lost faith in our elected educational officers, and our children risked receiving a quality education commensurate with our tax dollars.

A sea-change in this ineffective and inept manner of governance occurred three years ago with the election of Mr. Edward Potosnak as BOE president. Despite his inexperience as a BOE officer, Mr. Potosnak quickly recognized that the success of our public schools is predicated on being a good listener [to the legitimate concerns of community residents] as well as understanding our values and ideas for improving public education. Exhibiting strong and committed leadership skills, Mr. Potosnak immediately forged a respectful and successful collaborative working relationship with the then interim district Superintendent, which he continued with the current Superintendent, Dr. John A. Ravally. Through his stewardship and combined dedication of his seasoned BOE vice-president, Mrs. Nancy LaCorte, the public has experienced a much-improved level of communications between the central office and the public, as well as among and between BOE officers and school district administrators.

Our school district has seen numerous significant successes and few failures, if any, during Mr. Potosnak’s leadership of the BOE. Clearly, these accomplishments are collective achievements of the entire Board and that of the Superintendent. However, the commendable working relationship established by the BOE leadership fostered an environment that yielded positive results for the entire community and of course the students of our traditional public schools. One of the most recent and impressive accomplishments is the honor bestowed on our school district for six of its nine schools being certified as ‘Future Ready Schools.’

The certification recognizes the district’s commitment to “prepare their students for success in the digital age, while fostering and enabling collaboration both within and between schools and districts throughout the state of New Jersey.”

Unlike previous BOE presidents, Mr. Potosnak’s leadership panache is emblematic of teamwork without personal agendas. He accepts the fact that his or other Board member’s success is inextricably linked to the success of the entire Board. The recent accomplishments of our school district and the established successful path of achieving academic success are directly correlated with strong, committed leadership of the Board’s leadership. By their proven track record, Mr. Potosnak and his fellow BOE officers have provided assurances to Franklin township residents that current and future educational polices will yield continuous students’ academic growth.

In addition to Mr. Potosnak, two committed educators, whose children attend our traditional public schools, are also on Tuesday’s ballot. Based on my conversations with Biologist Nishita Desai (Ballot Position 3) and Chemist Michael Smith, PhD (Ballot Position 1), I’m convinced that their respective approaches to public education reconcile with that of BOE President Potosnak (Ballot Position 6) and Superintendent Ravally. Equally important, these three candidates have demonstrated their commitment of ensuring academic successes for our schools. These public servants will work assiduously with Superintendent Ravally and his staff to implement educational policies that warrants all students of our public schools will received a quality education.

On November 7th, join me in electing Smith (1), Desai (3) and Potosnak (6) as Franklin Township BOE officers. Unlike other ballot candidates Smith, Desai and Potosnak are strong advocates for our township students and are steadfastly dedicated to bolstering our traditional public schools. Ironically, the advocacy of other candidates vying to hold seats on the BOE directly contributes to the fiscal challenges of our school district given that they support publicly-funded, privately operated charter schools, whose student body is devoid of pupils deemed most difficult to educate.

Notwithstanding these challenges, during the past couple of years, teachers and school building principals as well as Superintendent Ravally and the current BOE leadership have remained focused on providing educational opportunities for all students.

Let’s continue to build on the established successes of the BOE by electing Smith (1) Desai (3) Potosnak (6).

 

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