2012-10-23 / Front Page

Field of 9 seek four seats on Old Bridge board

OLD BRIDGE — While there is no municipal election in the township this year, voters will still have plenty of choices to make at the local level Nov. 6.

A field of nine candidates will be on the ballot for four available seats on the Board of Education. The seats account for nearly half of the nine-member school board.

Seven of the hopefuls are running for three available three-year terms; while two are vying for a one-year unexpired term.

Incumbent Matthew Sulikowski, who is a retired Old Bridge school teacher, is seeking his third three-year term.

“Right now we have an interim superintendent and I would like to bring someone in on a permanent basis and possibly someone who will work with the entire board on the needs of the students in our community,” Sulikowski said. “I believe that a combination of my work experience, life experience and prior board experience will help me pick the best superintendent for the job.”

Incumbent Annette Tunyla-Hopman, who is employed by Roosevelt Care Center at Old Bridge, is seeking her fifth three-year term. Hopman said the biggest issue that needs to be addressed right now is interviewing for and selecting a full-time superintendent.

“The superintendent is the top administrator of the school district and we need to start the hiring process for a smooth transition when our interim superintendent leaves,” she said. “Also, I would like to continue to work on increasing test scores and to provide the best quality education for our children at the least expense to the taxpayer.”

Isaac Crosson, who is a senior business analyst with Citibank, is seeking his first three-year term. Crosson said the biggest issue is increasing the number of advanced placement courses offered and improving test scores.

“I also think it is important to increase the percentage of students that are prepared to graduate to four-year colleges. Finally, I feel there should be school board transparency with the public because over 70 cents of every tax dollar goes to the Board of Education, and the public deserves a larger participation of how those dollars are spent,” Crosson said.

Incumbent Mark Palehonki, who owns M.T.V. Driving School in Old Bridge, is seeking a three-year term after being appointed in February to serve the remainder of the term previously held by the late Ellen “Ellie” Mc- Dermott. Palehonki said he takes his position very seriously and enjoys being part of an organization that has a positive impact on the educational development of children.

“I believe the best way to accomplish this goal is to put the best tools available in our teachers’ hands at no cost to our taxpayers. In the nature of my business, I come in contact with a lot of staff, parents and students and I want to be a voice for them. I hear their interest and comments, and being that I am a board member I take that information back to the board so we can address it in a positive light,” he said.

Kevin Borsilli, vice president of operations for Barclays Bank, is seeking his first three-year term. Borsilli said he would like to get the Board of Education more focused on education.

“I feel they are all over the place on some issues that are going on,” he said. For example, Borsilli said the recent hiring of directors contradicted what officials had said they wanted to do in the past. “I feel we are pushing things along too quickly without any concern for where we are going in the future,” he said.

Balwinder Singh, a former teacher who is now employed by New York Sports Club, is seeking his first three-year term.

“I want to make the board more fiscally responsible so that they make prudent decisions as stewards of public money. I would like to involve parents, teachers and taxpayers with a vision of improved standards of education,” he said. “We should also focus more on science, math, technology and engineering so that our children are ready for the global job market.”

Salvatore DiPrima, who has spent 31 years in the financial services industry, is seeking his first three-year term. DiPrima said he is an advocate for the children and has spent the last 18 years as a PTA/PTSA member and officer.

“I want to be a voice for all he community members. People should have a say on how their tax dollars are being spent and how their children are being represented,” he said. “One of the things I would like to see is the equality for all students. The school should recognize all students for their own abilities. Nobody should be persecuted or bullied because of differences.”

Incumbent Fred Colabella, a retired tugboat captain, is seeking a one-year expired term. He previously served on the board from 2005 to 2008 and was appointed in 2011 to fill the seat vacated by Frank Piccillo.

Colabella said there are currently two issues that the board needs to address.

“The first thing is that we are seeking a full-time superintendent, since we have an interim right now and to move forward we need a permanent,” he said. “As we are moving forward we are always trying to improve our test scores and quality of education.”

Daniel Cyckowski, who is a full-time student and employed at both a bookstore and deli, is vying with Colabella for the one-year unexpired term.

“I feel that the Board of Education should be focusing more on the students’ education rather than spending more time and effort on the concession stand, the football stadium and iPads. I feel right now the board needs to be more fiscally responsible and needs to spend their money on more things that will help students academically,” said Cyckowski.

– Angela Santoriello

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