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.
Kenneth Aitken is an incumbent on the ballot seeking a three-year term on the board.
Kenneth Aitken (I)
Kenneth Aitken, an Aberdeen resident since 1992, has two children in the school district. He took his current seat on the Board of Education in April 2011 for a one-year unexpired term, although he also served on the board from 2005 to 2008. Aitken works as a principal member of the technical staff for the AT&T Corporation. He is an active member of the VFW Guadalcanal Post 4745 in Cliffwood Beach, having previously served six years in the U.S. Navy.
In his most recent term on the board, Aitken is proud that the district's 2012-13 budget not only adhered to but came in below the board's self-imposed 1.5% cap. When the district received approximately $580K in additional funding from the state, however, Aitken said he was disappointed that more of that money wasn't returned to tax payers.
Aitken noted that the board has done a good job at eliminating waste in the budget, but feels the best way to ensure that every tax dollar is used to its maximum benefit the budget should be rebuilt from scratch.
"Instead of taking this year’s budget and using it as a template for next year, I would like to see them do a zero base budge and go through every building and every program and write the budget as if doing it from scratch," he said. "What happens sometimes in any organization is, if you say, last year's budget was $100, and say they can get up to $101.50 this year, people will find a way to spend the extra money."
If reelected, Aitken wants to improve communications with the community.
"Everyone wants a school with top academics and programs where every child succeeds, with children getting into good colleges and having good career paths. The way you do that is get everybody together and get some input from the children, you get input from the parents, and you get input from the staff and the teachers," he said.
"One of the goals that I asked for in the goal setting session that we had this summer was to do that, and maybe reach out to the community in different ways," he said. "I want the board to hear the community’s concerns and demonstrate our belief in transparency and accountability."
Aitken believes that a series of short, specific surveys distributed to parents, teachers and students would provide the board with a more clear picture of where the district is doing well and where the district needs to make improvements. He also believes that utilizing social media would increase their outreach to the community.
"My real goal is improvement of student performance. I think we have some of the right programs in place. I think if we get the community involved and pull everyone together we can be really successful," he continued.
Aitken hopes to continue representing Aberdeen residents on the board of education, and says a vote for him is a vote for an experienced board member who is not afraid to ask questions or vote against items he feels are not in the best interest of the children.
"People have to know that they can feel comfortable and trust that I’m going to perform my duty well for them and make sure that they can have a school they are proud to have their children go to," Aitken said. "We’re making sure we’re providing a quality school system for the value people are paying."