Hillsborough Board Of Education Profile: Judith C. Haas

HILLSBOROUGH, NJ — Hillsborough Township School Board has six candidates vying for three seats in the upcoming election on Nov. 3.

Incumbent Judith C. Haas is one of the candidates running. The other candidates include Cynthia “Cindy” DeCavalcante Nurse, Benjamin Wilson Kidd, incumbent Dr. Lorraine A. Soisson, Ann Harris, and Paul Marini.

All of the candidates are running for the three, three-year seats on the board.

Are you running for office in Hillsborough? Contact Alexis Tarrazi at [email protected] for information on being featured in a candidate’s profile and submitting campaign announcements to Hillsborough Patch.

Judith C. Haas

1. Why are running for Board of Education?

I am honored to be a candidate for a sixth term on the Board of Education, serving Hillsborough and Millstone. I hope the residents of our district will continue to support my efforts on behalf of our children by voting for me again.

The Board’s work requires experienced, dedicated, knowledgeable, caring, and independent Board
members. I have spent all of my adult life in public service and I know how to get things done efficiently and effectively. As a Board member, I have a record of accomplishment, accessibility, and decision-making based on values and equity. I work hard, research every issue, communicate with stakeholders, ask questions, never rubber-stamp anything, and remain passionate about education. I am deeply concerned about all of the children of our district, and want each one to reach his/her maximum potential and have the best possible future. I am proud of my role in improving student achievement, maintaining reasonable class sizes, attracting great teachers, creating budgets that maximize instruction and minimize administrative expenses, enhancing our curriculum, co-curriculars, and sports for all students to find areas of success, establishing our district website, parent information system, instant alerts, and social media to improve communication, adding Student Assistance, College, and Elementary guidance counselors to assure our students have support for good decision-making, expanding technology, innovation, Mandarin Chinese, American Sign Language, concurrent college classes, AP classes, and special education programs, all with a cost per pupil that is hundreds of dollars less than the state average.

2. What are your qualifications for this position?

I have served 15.5 years on the Board, and achieved the designations of Certified Board Member,
Master Board Member, and Certified Board Leader, the highest level of certification from the NJ School Boards Association. I served two years as President and three years as Vice President and currently chair the Education Committee, having previously chaired the Governance, Communications, and Policy Committees. I served on the Curriculum, Finance, Personnel, Operations, Facilities, and Negotiations Committees as well. I have served for several years as Liaison to the Garden State Coalition of Schools and Legislative Representative.

I am also the Vice President, after six years as President, of the Board of Directors of the Somerset
County Educational Services Commission which provides special education and alternative education programs, shared services to all school districts, and a new Career Center for vocational training.

My experience also includes serving as former President and Treasurer of the independent Hillsborough Public Library Advisory Board. I have co-chaired Project Graduation and participated in a full range of volunteer activities (Class Mom, HSA member, Life Skills Instructor, Art in the Classroom Instructor, Principal’s Advisory Committee Member, HHS Debate Parents, RoboRaider Parents, and Coach of Baseball, Basketball, and Soccer). Professionally, I served as Hillsborough’s Township Administrator, preceded by a career in New York City Government as a high level administrator and public policy advisor. I have a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science and Communication and a Master’s Degree in Public Administration. Personally, I have been blessed with the perspectives, advice, and support of a wonderful husband, Lloyd (a teacher for 40 years), an awesome son, Dr. Lenny (currently completing his residency in pediatrics in New York), great stepsons Marc and David (successful Hillsborough graduates), great daughters-in-law Betsey and Nachama, and six beloved grandchildren.

3. The single most pressing issue facing our school district is ____ and this is what I intend to do about it:

The COVID-19 pandemic is clearly the most important challenge facing our schools at this time. It is unprecedented and larger in scope and impact than anything we have experienced. Our district was able to effectively transform into a virtual district last March due to the hard work and initiative of our staff at all levels and our strong commitment to 1:1 technology that was implemented starting in 2011 with my support. We were a leader in this initiative, and our current students and staff benefit from all these years of computer access and competence. At this time, our schools are open to some students for in-person learning and some students are continuing their learning virtually.

Our students, families, and staff must feel healthy, safe, and secure for effective learning and progress to take place. I will continue to do my research, follow the data and science for ongoing guidance, and advocate accordingly. I also encourage everyone to take personal responsibility to clean up, wash up, wear masks, and socially distance. Our children only go through the school system once. All of the foundational learning of the early years must take place effectively for our children to be able to thrive in their later school years, which, in turn, prepare them for college, career, and their entire lives. We must do our best to help them succeed under all circumstances and concurrently keep this terrible virus out of our schools. We need to stay focused on making decisions in terms of the educational welfare of children and meeting the individual needs of all children, pandemic or not. At this difficult time, all parties need to be understanding, flexible, supportive, collaborative, transparent, and most of all, child-centered.

4. What are other issues you would like to see addressed in the school district?

We have been blessed with a strong educational program (#15 in the #1 state), excellent staff, and, of course, the best students ever, but we face a constant challenge of budget cuts and inadequate funding from the state. Unfunded mandates and uncontrolled cost increases beyond the 2% cap threaten our progress and must be addressed by the state. I have met with legislators from all over the state about this, and I advocate through organizations such as the Garden State Coalition of Schools and the New Jersey School Boards Association.

We must also provide our students and staff with better buildings and grounds. I am grateful that the community supported our December 2019 referendum which provided funding for many major improvements. I, along with my colleagues on the BOE and members of the administration, met with many community groups and held informational sessions all around town to assure the success of this effort. Significant roofing and paving work was completed this summer, and mechanical and general renovation work will occur next year.

We must also address the township’s approvals of many new residential developments with no remediation of impacts on already-overcrowded schools. I have testified about this problem at planning board and township committee meetings.

In closing, a community is defined, in large part, by its schools. Hillsborough is recognized throughout the state and country for having high-performing, low-cost schools, and this benefits all of our residents. I am proud to be a Board member working to keep our schools strong and I would be proud to continue to serve our community and our children. I welcome your support in this election! Thank you so much!

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