Editor's note: Candidate profiles on the Aberdeen residents seeking board positions will run later today.
Matawan and Aberdeen voters will be asked to select their Board of Education representatives during the upcoming Nov. 6 election.
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.
The Matawan seat is currently held by Gerald Donaghue, who opted not to seek reelection for another term.
No one filed a petition with the Monmouth County Board of Elections by the June 3 deadline, however, Matawan resident Kathleen Gentile is running as a write-in candidate.
A write-in candidate means that the voter will literally have to write the candidates name on the ballot in the corresponding box.
Kathleen Gentile is a 22-year resident of Matawan, with one son who is now a freshman at Marist and another son who is a junior at Matawan Regional High School.
Gentile spent several years as a member of the PTO (Parent Teacher Organization), serving at different times as a parent volunter, a chairperson of the finance committee, the treasurer, and the president.
When her sons reached the high school, volunteer opportunities decreased, Gentile said. She hopes to serve on the board as a way to again give back to the school community.
"I miss being heavily involved in the district as a volunteer. I would like to get on the board because I have a lot of experience with the district," Gentile said. "I like the direction we're going in. I want to keep the momentum in the right direction."
Specifically, Gentile is pleased that the high school was ranked fourth among Monmouth County public schools and that the board takes the time during meetings to honor student achievement.
However, she would like to see the same emphasis given to high school programs as are given to early learning programs.
"A lot of programs that came in the district over the last decade have been for early learning," Gentile said. "I'd like to see a little more directed to the high school. We do have the career academies, the Freshman Academy, and I like that. I feel like we're finally addressing the momentum in the high school. I'd like to work on balanceing initiatives (among grade levels) that we bring into the district."
Gentile also noted that board needs to improve community relations and hopes, if elected, to help bring back a parent committee that works in conjunction with district administrators.
"We had a parent committee in the high school that was like a think tank. We had it under Dr. O'Malley. We would have a superintendent meeting; we'd try to meet every two months with him to go over issues and concerns in the districts," she said. "We had board members involved also and I think that's missing, that parental input. In the last few years we've lost that focus and I'd like to get that focus back."
In addition to balancing programs among grade levels and increasing parental input, Gentile wants to help the district look for opportunities to save money through shared services agreements.
"I would like to look more into other shared services we can do with the township. I like that and I think we should see if we can do more to help cut costs," she said.
Gentile emphasized that her record as a reliable and dedicated volunteer within the school district would make her an excellent choice as a board of education representative.
"I’m not just living in this community, I’m a member of this community," she said. "I've gotten to know so many neighbors and so many parents. I worked closely with them. They know me; they know my track record; they know the dedication I have to our schools and our children," Gentile said.