Q And A With BOE Candidate Boruch Mandel

boe new buildingQ: What makes you think that you are qualified to educate the children of Lakewood? A: One of the lessons that I have learned from serving on the board of Coventry is that it is not good practice for board members to be getting involved in day to day activities of the Coventry condominium office. Your job is to make sure the office is set up in a way that you do not have to get involved. So too, the job of a BOE member is not to educate the students in the public schools. That is the job of the superintendent. In fact the code of ethics that BOE members are bound by, specifically prohibits them from administering the schools.

The job of the BOE is to provide oversight of the district officials. The sad fact is, that our public schools are failing. I feel that it is a disgrace that a town as great as ours, we do not have excellent schools. It is not necessarily for a lack of funds. We are spending more than neighboring towns who are producing better results. The superintendent has yet to produce a curriculum plan. She has been on the job for 18 months and it is high time that a plan is brought to the board and the public. If elected, I will make sure that the district is held accountable and do their job in educating the students.

There is also a gang and violence problem in our public schools. At one of the last board meeting a mother stood in near tears describing how her son cannot return to school because of death threats. The superintendent was supposed to present a plan to address security at the last meeting, but did not.

Providing the necessary oversight does not require experience in education. What is necessary is first and foremost an ability to be alert to shortcomings on the districts part, a willingness to listen to the public’s concerns and making sure that the district acts on it in good faith.

Q: What is your view on the budget that will be on the ballot?
A: Right now the budget is a work in progress. It is my hope that the final budget is one I will be able support. At present, there are certain line items that I question. For example there is an extra 1.1 million dollars for raises in salaries. It is the position of the current board and would be mine if elected that in the present economy Lakewood cannot afford to give raises. Therefore there is no reason to budget for a raise that will not happen this year. When the budget is adopted and made available to the public I will be able to give a more educated opinion.

Q: What is your opinion on the new transportation policies?
A: Bussing is a big expense on the budget and it is true that there may be a need to take innovative steps to bring the cost down. That being said, it is also one of the only benefits that the private school community gets from the BOE tax levy (as opposed to Title 1 etc.). It should not be the easy place to look to for cuts, especially since it would create a lot of traffic and safety issues, that are also cost prohibitive. Before making such drastic changes I would ask that we send out new RFPs for bids on our bussing contracts. Many of the contracts are years old when there was not a large amount of competition.

Putting them out for another bid would likely bring lower costs. (If there are certain routes that are not cost effective to re-bid we of course do not have to re-bid.) An added benefit of putting out new bids would be that we may find that we have no need for any more unwritten agreements where the busses are first used to transport students from Freehold and Jackson. This has resulted in times where we have to delay transportation because weather conditions in Freehold were dangerous even when Lakewood’s roads were clear.

While we are on the subject of bussing is another point I would like to make. This year there has been many issues with bus companies and one in particular. It is my opinion that a large portion of the blame lies with the district. There was a signed contract with clear and high penalties for non – performance. For too long the district ignored the non performance and did not follow through with the proper consequences. It was in this vacuum of accountability that the bussing problems took place. I do not see any reason why every bus company should not have to submit a time sheet at the end of every month showing what time every bus arrived at the school. They are required by contract to be at the school five minutes before the start of school and ten minutes before dismissal and they should be held to that. TLS.

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  1. There are some valid points that Mr. Mandel makes, however experience is a key requirement. He says for example that the Superintendent has yet to deliver a curriculum for the Public School system. Without any experience with either Public or Private education, on what criteria would Mr. Mandel add any value to the acceptance the curriculum? The curriculum has a direct impact on the budget and therefore taxes. What expertise does Mr. Mandel or other candidates have to deal with the gang problems in the Public School? These are not issues that can just be swept under the rug or find solutions to in Coventry or in the Bais HaMedrash! These issues need experienced and trained leaders. What does the fact that busing is “one of the only benefits that the private school community gets from the BOE tax levy” have to do with it should be examined and reduced? We need to save money from anywhere that it can be saved. Having unreasonable Menahlim reject pooling of buses and staggering start and end times is just simply unacceptable. We must change this attitude locally and nationally that reduction is needed… except where it impact me! I am sure Mr. Mandel is a bright and caring person who wants to be a public servant, we should all have the same aspirations, but that alone does not qualify someone for the position.

  2. The thechers all deserve raises, as it is written into their contract. Just like any other empolee. There are other ways to cut the budjet. but to cut raises that they are intiteled to… NO NO! that’s not right, speaking from a tax payers point of view.

  3. first of all regarding RFP’s for bussing, they are bid again every school year. Currently most bus companies cannot afford to lower their price. They dont get paid more when gas go up. Some bus lines are being run at a loss to the company.
    Just because bussing is the only benefit the private school gets doesnt mean that we should not look to save money. The bussing director put forward many great ideas and a little inconvenience want hurt anyone. Sharing a few schools on one bus is totally reasonable. If the private school is not willing to make sacrifices than why should the public school make any sacrifices?

  4. #5 – You are 100% correct! We hired them and they should be treated like any other employee. Let’s look around the in the private sector how many people are getting raises or for that matter got raises the last 2 years. Let’s start treating them like regular employees indeed!! No raises just like regular employees, half health benefits just like regular employees, no pension just like regular employees, work the full day and no more free 1 1/4 hours that they get off per day right now, fire any teacher that does not do their job just like regular employees, reduce pay when the money gets tight just like regular employees, would you like me to go on or are you ready to admit that maybe they do not want to be like regular employees anymore??!!

  5. Mr. Mandel is 1 of the 4 candidates who regularly attend BOE meetings. Where are the rest of you? It’s more to this twisted process of education in this town other than “OUR TAXES”. You can proactively deal with the true corrupt issues that unneccessarily continue to divide the town or reactively deal with the consequences of them. If only people would stop their discriminating, corrupt and evil ways… they would clearly see we have more in common than not. Best wishes Mr. Mandel.

  6. It’s amazing that you will not post this link of requirements for the candidates. If the link continues to get removed from this public blog I will be forced to take this a step further. (Printing a copy) You just continue to show how you do not want to do the right thing for ALL involved.

  7. #4, while the present contract has expired, you are bound to abide by the terms and conditions of the old contract until a new one is signed. That language is typically written into contracts. Otherwise an employer could wait till the old contract expires and then pay his employees minimum wages and never settle a new one for years.

  8. Bottom line, Mr Mandel admits he has zero experience, but promises to learn on the job. Not good enough. Who is in his right mind would entrust a $135 million budget, 5000 PS children, and essential services to an additional 23,000 independent school children, to a trainee?

  9. The real issue is the unions. In order to do what’s really needed you must break the union and start Lakewood schools all over. We have many teachers who care about the success of the children and then we have teachers who don’t care and are just putting time in for there pensions. The children are eager to learn, we must give every child the opportunity to graduate and enter the 21st century.
    Thank you

  10. Mr. Mandel, first let me congratulate you on attending BOE meetings. I would have thought more of you if you spoke about bussing in a fair way. Please explain to the public what % is bussing to the overall budget, then your read what you wrote. People want tax cuts, bussing needs to be effected.
    As far as the superintendent the problems started way before she came to Lakewood. It will take a good five years to produce passing schools. The schools need to be cleaned up starting with teachers who are just putting in time.
    Boruch, when was the last time you visited a public school?
    The issue is understanding the public and private schools are light years apart.
    To make Lakewood a better place for all families, children to grow up in we must do everything in partnership to have passing public schools.

  11. Having known Mr. Mandel personally for many years, I can assure you that he is an honest and fair individual that will represent the concerns of his constituents in a pragmatic and compassionate manner.

    There are always competing concerns within any constituency, and Mr. Mandel will undoubtedly be a fair and just arbiter.

    I look forward to seeing him ascend to the BOE and serve the community well. Best wishes.

Comments are closed.