Matawan and Aberdeen voters will be asked to select their Board of Education representatives during the election next month.
New Jersey School Board Elections are normally held in April, however Senate Bill 3184, which was signed into law by Gov. Chris Christie in January, allowed school boards to combine their elections with the general election in November.
In February, the district voted to move the election, along with the majority of New Jersey school districts.
There is (1) three-year term open for a Matawan resident, while there are (2) three-year terms and (1) one-year unexpired term open for Aberdeen residents.
Tara Martinez is on the ballot for a three-year term on the board.
Tara Martinez, a Cliffwood Beach resident since 1995, has two children at Matawan Aberdeen Middle School. She has been a member of the PTO (Parent Teacher Organization) for nine years, allowing her to actively volunteer in the schools.
Martinez hopes to be a board of education member because she wants to fix what she feels is a disconnect between the community, the staff, and the administration.
"We used to be a nice, close-knit district where everybody worked together and we were kind of all in it for the same goal, for the kids. I feel like over these last ten years we’ve progressed to this point where everybody is working in different directions," she said.
"I don’t think the kids are our goal anymore in a lot of ways. I feel like parents feel the administration is against us. I feel the board and administration are against us. I don’t think they feel very trusting with the board. There is a lot of animosity where there should be a relationship," she continued.
After speaking out at a number of controversial meetings, such as the acceptance of the MAMS principal's resignation and the staff array changes, Martinez was left feeling that the board and the administration was not listening to the concerns of the parents.
"If we’re not listening to the people that put us there then what are we doing? I feel that the board has not done that in so long and that’s a big thing. The board has to be more open to the public, more respectful to the public in listening," she said.
Martinez also feels that the board doesn't speak up enough.
"I really want the board to have strength in working with the administration," she said. "We need to get new, fresh eyes and ears in order to make things happen and to get people to trust us again. Trust is a big issue we’ve lost over the years."
If elected, Martinez plans to work toward reducing turnover in the school administration.
"The district has seen way to much chaos," she said. "No more turnovers with principals and teachers and keeping things status quofor a while for the kids and for the teachers that have to work under the administration."
Martinez believes that a vote for her is a vote for a volunteer familiar with the school district who will put the children first while bringing a fresh set of eyes to the board.
"I’ve had a lot of experience with the schools. I’ve seen how the schools are run; I’ve been in three different schools; I’ve worked with a lot of the administration, a lot of the teachers, and with the children. I feel that I know how we want things to be, how things should be," she said.
"Sometimes you need somebody in there to keep things real and down to earth. And I feel like I would be good board member for that reason," she said.