MANCHESTER, NJ — When voters go to the polls Nov. 3, they will be asked to choose four people to serve on the Manchester Township Board of Education.
There three, three-year full terms, and one one-year unfinished term up for election. The Board of Education is volunteer, meaning its members do not get paid to serve.
Patch asked each candidate to answer questions to give voters information about who they are and their stances on various issues. We are printing their responses in full, unedited except for spelling or punctuation.
Here are the answers from George Cervenak III, who is seeking to fill the one-year unexpired term. He is running under the slogan Education is Key.
Previous elective office, if any:
Does anyone in your family work for the school district or in politics?
Kean University – Master’s in educational leadership
Middle school mathematics teacher, Lakewood School District
Why are you seeking a seat on the school board?
With my background in education, I know that I can work collaboratively with the current board and be an effective advocate and voice for students and parents, support district staff, and keep public education safe and healthy.
The single most pressing issue facing our school district is _______, and this is what I intend to do about it.
COVID-19 and the safe return of staff and students to school. If I was currently on the Board, I would be listening to the recommendations of the CDC, Department of Health, the concerns of parents, students, and staff, and the guidelines to return. Technology and its use has become an integral part of education and we must ensure that staff and students are prepared. This summer could have been used to improve the skills of the Manchester staff for the upcoming year. We should have been proactive rather than reactive. In addition, if returning to in-person education, the schools should be planning on educating students and staff how to remain safe, use protective equipment properly, and employ the correct safety measure to limit exposures.
What are the critical differences between you and the other candidates seeking to serve on the school board seat?
No answer given.
Describe the other issues that define your campaign platform.
First off, I want to state that I am not a politician. I am running for the school board because I am concerned parent who wants to ensure the health, safety, and educational achievement of the students in our district. I want our children to receive the best possible education and be prepared for their future. Improving achievement in ELA and mathematics, and making sure that district tests align with the curriculum, and educating students with the philosophy that they must take their education seriously in order to succeed. Another concern that I have is the establishment of a more open communication between the Board and our community. If I have learned anything during this pandemic, it is that our lives had become so busy and there were not enough hours in the day. Parents were attending school functions, sporting events, conferences, and community meetings. Parents were often forced to trade off, one event for another, myself included. Just because parents do not attend board meetings does not mean they do not care. If there is a hot topic, people do attend. So why did it take a pandemic to have Zoom meeting to allow people to attend? Zoom board meetings should be continued to allow everyone to attend and participate in the discussions. We have learned that they work and now we should continue and improve our community involvement. Technology use is also important. Staff and students should have been increasing their use of technology in the classrooms because this need will be present for all children to be competitive in the marketplace.
What accomplishments in your past would you cite as evidence you will be effective on the school board?
My wife and I have four children. Currently, I have three students in the district. Two are attending the high school. One is in the elementary school and one that has graduated and is attending college. I am a member of the Manchester PTA. I have volunteered as a Manchester Little League coach, Manchester Youth Football coach, webmaster, and board president.
What else would you like voters to know about yourself and your positions?
No answer given.
The best advice ever shared with me was:
Have the courage to stand up and speak even when you are afraid but have the courage to sit down and listen. When I was younger, I was afraid to speak up and stand up for others. I didn’t have the strength to take on what I thought was wrong. Luckily, I encountered a TEACHER that changed my outlook. One day in his class, he could tell that the students were afraid to answer and make a mistake. Everyone was working for their grade, and going along to get along with everyone. He then assigned an activity that made me realize the importance of standing up for what is right. Because of this one assignment, I learned to think before I speak and think about the results of my statements or actions.
This article originally appeared on the Manchester Patch