HOLMDEL, NJ – Three seats are up for grabs on the Holmdel Township Board of Education, according to the Monmouth County Clerk’s Office.
Current board members Eileen Briamonte, Jamie Collins and Peter Reddy will be seeking to retain their spots on the board, challenged by newcomers Zhenling “Linda” Zhang and Irfan Lateef.
Related: Election 2020: Who’s Running For School Board In Holmdel?
Briamonte was first appointed to the Holmdel Board of Education in 2016 for a one year term. She was re-elected in 2017 for a three-year term. She has been a Holmdel resident for 20 years alongside her husband Chris. The pair have two daughters at Holmdel High School.
Briamonte holds a B.S. in Mathematics from Villanova University. She has been a private tutor for SSAT, SAT and ACT for 12 years, with prior experience as a computer analyst.
“We came to Holmdel because we had multiple relatives raising families here and we saw how great those kids were growing up,” Briamonte told Patch. “We knew that Holmdel Schools provided a foundation for their successes.”
Are you running for a spot on the board of education? Contact Nicole Rosenthal at [email protected] for information on being featured in a candidate profile and submitting campaign announcements to Patch.
Why are you seeking a seat on the school board:
I am seeking re-election because we need experienced leadership to continue moving the district forward. Although the referendum is close to the finish line, the school board still needs people who have been actively involved to see it through to completion. Over the summer, I advocated for securing the services of a seasoned professional to serve as interim superintendent, understanding we needed a person with depth of experience so that we could successfully reopen schools. Now there is an excitement around the district with Dr. Seitz, and I look forward to our continued collaboration with him as we plan for more in person instruction. I am inspired by the great things that will come from the culmination of renovated buildings, new educational spaces, extraordinary new courses, new sports facilities and renovated artistic spaces. There is always more work to be accomplished, and goals to be set, and I’m prepared and ready for the ongoing challenges.
The single most pressing issue facing our school district is _______, and this is what I intend to do about it:
The Board will conduct a search for a permanent Superintendent (as an interim can only serve for 2 years) shortly. The position where the Board has the most influence is the selection of the Superintendent. This election is important because those individuals elected will be involved in the process to identify the next Superintendent. The type of foresight needed for our Board can only be gained from direct experience. It is critical that this decision is made by those who are trusted and have the experience to make this decision in the most decisive and informed manner. My four years as a Board member provides me with the knowledge to make a grounded decision as to who will be the right candidate for Holmdel, someone who will continue to move all of our schools forward.
What are the critical differences between you and the other candidates seeking to serve on the school board seat?:
The main differences between me and some of the other candidates are experience, working knowledge and a proven track record. Four years on the board has provided me with working knowledge of the board operations. I have been a member of every committee, a chair of multiple committees and Vice President of the board in 2019. Working together with the board, I have a proven track record of getting things done: implemented $40M referendum, on time and on budget; increased class time at IH for core classes; new Engineering lab, Robotics room, TV studio, Dance studio at the HS; new science labs at Satz; new STEAM room at Village; new sports teams; new artistic opportunities; new clubs for our students; lowered class sizes; negotiated fair and equitable contracts for both the staff and our taxpayers; and so many other changes that have greatly benefited ALL of our students.
Describe the other issues that define your campaign platform:
The Holmdel School District has met the challenges associated with the COVID pandemic. We are providing in-person learning when so many other schools are remote only. The Board has supported investments necessary to allow our students and staff to return to school and also return to extracurricular and athletic activities. I will continue to use my experience and foresight to assist in staying ahead of our needs for continued learning, and providing the support needed to extend our in-person instruction time. These are the most challenging times for school districts. As someone who has served in various leadership positions throughout my years as a board member, I will bring stability to the Board so that we can continue to weather the storm brought by this pandemic.
What accomplishments in your past would you cite as evidence you will be effective on the school board?:
During my four year tenure I have served on all of the Board committees. I have been
the chair to Curriculum & Instruction/Special Services, Labor/Negotiations & Personnel, Buildings/Ground & Safety, and Community Relations. Last year, I had the honor of serving as the Board’s Vice President. Most recently, as Chair of Buildings, Grounds & Safety Committee, my committee members were charged with making recommendations to the Board to enhance safety measures ensuring a safe environment for staff and students. By working in partnership with administrators, teachers, and parents, my fellow board members and I developed the Holmdel 2020 Initiative to address many issues in the school that could not be accomplished through our annual budget process. I am proud of the many things this board has accomplished during my four years: additional academic, athletic, and artistic classes; all-day kindergarten; $40M referendum completed on time and on budget; technology enhancements; facility renovations and improvements; increased security; and that’s just to name a few.
The best advice ever shared with me was:
“Keep fighting the good fight.” Being on the board is a time consuming job that takes you away from your own family. However, it is necessary work and work that is needed in order for our Schools to continue to prosper. Each of our nine members bring insight to the board, and together we make decisions to support and celebrate all of our students. The best time of the year to be a board member is at our meetings where we celebrate the accomplishments of the students; their joy and excitement is overwhelming. I am grateful to have the opportunity to represent our community as a volunteer for the Holmdel Board of Education. I look forward to continuing to advocate on behalf of the students and the community.
What else would you like voters to know about yourself and your positions?
I understand the value of volunteerism to a community – a community needs volunteers in order to be viable. In our family, we take this responsibility seriously. During my years in Holmdel, my husband and I have coached a number of HYAA teams, and are co-chairs of the picnic committee for St. Catharine’s Church, assisted with St. Catharine’s Youth Group, and are volunteers for the Holmdel Community Garden. Our children have also found volunteering equally as rewarding and are involved in amazing community programs, such as SPUR, Lunch Break, St. Catharine’s Youth Group, and they also founded the Holmdel High School chapter of Light the Candle. The Board of Education is a volunteer position that requires significant time, and unwavering dedication. My experience and commitment is what drives me to want to continue “fighting the good fight”.
This article originally appeared on the Holmdel-Hazlet Patch