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Wednesday, July 17, 2024

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Candidate Interviews: Upper Township School District

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By Herald Staff

Read about why these candidates are running for the Board of Education in the Upper Township School District! To view the answers provided by candidates in other Cape May County school districts, click here.

Michele Barbieri

Why are you running for the Board of Education?
Serving proudly in my 18th year as a member of the Upper Township Board of Education, many challenges face public education today.  Once could say it would be easy to walk away  when faced with difficult times.  I believe serving my community, supporting our staff and students and wanting to be part of the process to ensure we deliver a quality education to the students of Upper Township, I have decided to run, again, for the BOE.  Over the years my participation in statewide committees and years of professional development have helped me frame decisions that are educationally and fiscally sound and have also given a voice to Cape May County that is sometimes overlooked.
Do you support the new state standards for sex education as described in the 2020 Comprehensive Health and Physical Education standards? How will your view impact the decisions you make?
June 2020 the NJ State Board of Education approved changes to the Comprehensive Health/ Physical Education Standards. School districts were charged to have their curriculums reflect these changes.  Standards were developed so that students gain the knowledge to live a healthy life, accept/interact with others and recognize choices they make can impact their lives.  I have attended informational sessions on how these standards are to be reflected in curriculum and choices parents have for their child(ren) to participate.  With that being said, yes, I do support the standards as they are reflected in the UTSD curriculum but also respect a parents right to opt out.
Email: mbarb628@yahoo.com

Kiernan Black

Why are you running for the Board of Education?
My message today is similar to my message last year when I ran in the previous election for Upper Township Board of Education. I want to support the parent community and be a voice that can help bridge the gap between home and school. Parents are very busy and don’t always have time to read through and digest the many topics that affect the development of our schools and students. For me, this comes easy as I am passionate about child development, education and working with families. I tend to use a common sense approach that resonates well with administration, educators and parents.
Do you support the new state standards for sex education as described in the 2020 Comprehensive Health and Physical Education standards? How will your view impact the decisions you make?
I do not support the current updated 2020 Comprehensive Health and Physical Education standards as they stand. Rolling out a new curriculum when you do not have the full support of administration, staff and parents can have very negative consequences. More thought and training needs to be put into place in order to ensure that the curriculum is presented and received in a way that best supports our students.
Email: ksblack76@gmail.com

Kristie Chisholm

Why are you running for the Board of Education?
I am running for the Board of Education to continue working in the best interest of the students, staff and residents of Upper Township.  I plan to continue to awork with my fellow board members to ensure that all stakeholders are represented and supported in and out of the schools.  In light of the current budget constraints brought forth by S2, it is paramoint that districts maintain programs for the betterment of the students but do so without placing a fiscal burden on the taxpayers of Upper Township.
Do you support the new state standards for sex education as described in the 2020 Comprehensive Health and Physical Education standards? How will your view impact the decisions you make?
My view on the standards has no impact on the implementation of the curriculum created & appoved to address the standards.  BOE members must abide by their code of ethics. In doing so, members only have the ability to approve or not approve curriculum developed by the person(s) certified to write & teach the material. Board members do not create standards or curriculum that is meant to address the standards in school districts.  BOE members can and must make sure that standards that are adopted by the State Department of Education are adapted and addressed in the schools by certified staff members who have been hired byt the district to do so in the scope of their job descriptions.
Email: kristiechisholm324@gmail.com

Daniel Kilgallon

Why are you running for the Board of Education?
I have been working with children with special needs, at -risk youth, and every kind of student for decades.  Most of that experience being in under-served and lower socio-economic communities.   
I want to serve because I think I can do better.  We are now dealing with learning loss and lots of trauma caused by the pandemic, and related measures.  We need to recognize and address these issues in a focused, measured, and research based manner.  
I have spent my career working for the betterment of public education but I am pro what is right for my children first.  With my expertise and unique experiences I feel I would bring a fresh and needed perspective to Upper Township BOE. 
Do you support the new state standards for sex education as described in the 2020 Comprehensive Health and Physical Education standards? How will your view impact the decisions you make?
No.  I do not support these standards as written. Aside from being developmentally inappropriate at certain grade levels, some of these standards include some very complex  issues that should be addressed by appropriate clinicians and professionals.  There is quite a bit of disparity to how it was told UTSD would handle and teach these standards in contrast to the materials and sample lessons that were shared.  With more time, input, and consideration between the administration, teachers, and parents a more comprehensive curriculum could be developed that is reflective and inclusive of the community.
Email: dkilgallon@comcast.net

Bill Sooy

Why are you running for the Board of Education?
I am running because I think that I have something to offer our students, parents, teachers, administrators, support staff, and taxpayers.  This will be my third term and I think that my 32 years of law enforcement experience and my current position as a law enforcement coordinator with the Middle Atlantic Great Lakes Organized Crime Law Enforcement Network brings a unique and vast perspective to the table.  I have 6 kids and kids are the reason that I am running.
Do you support the new state standards for sex education as described in the 2020 Comprehensive Health and Physical Education standards? How will your view impact the decisions you make?
 I believe that I represent all students, not just the ones with the most vocal parents or those that show up at the meetings, which, by the way, I encourage.  The new standards are not ideal in my view but in listening to parents, students and teachers, they are necessary.  In addition, the oath a board member takes every year requires us to “uphold and enforce all laws, rules and regulations of the State Board of Education, and court orders pertaining to schools”. I voted yes for these reasons. I am also very comfortable with the way that school districts are going to present the curriculum. Easy “opt out” for parents made my vote more comfortable and as I said, I represent ALL kids. 
Email: wsooy59@hotmail.com
To learn about the other candidate, email Alexander Grassi at alex.grassi85@gmail.com

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