Livingston School Board Candidates Square Off During Forum
Wednesday, October 10, 2012 • 6:55am
LIVINGSTON NJ- The three Board of Education candidates running for two open seats, Soumitra Rathod, David Jasin and Pam Chirls participated in a public forum at the Old Guard meeting on Tuesday morning, at the Senior Community Center.
Each candidate was allowed five minutes to introduce themselves followed by a question and answer period, where the candidates responded to several anonymous questions.
Soumitra Rathod opened up the forum by discussing his vow to have every budgetary item go through an extensive analysis to make sure it is truly necessary. Rathod explained that at work, he manages a $250 million dollar budget and “has stretched it by being creative.”
Principal of Glenwood Elementary School, David Jasin, explained that his career will give him a leg up.
“I have a career that has been dedicated to education. There is no learning curve with me. I come into this with experience,” Jasin said.
Fifteen year volunteer in the Livingston school system, Pam Chirls, told attendees that her strong ties with the town, due to her children as well as herself attending Livingston schools, allows her to bring the knowledge she has acquired through the years to the table.
The first question posed for candidates asked what their plans would be in terms of renewing the superintendent’s contract or hiring someone new.
Jasin and Chirls seemed to find common ground, agreeing that it is necessary that if a new superintendent is decided upon, they should have ample experience.
Jasin added that there is “no reason why we can’t recruit talent from other parts of the country to save on salary.”
Rathod said the “ideal situation would be to extend the current superintendent in a manner such that the incumbent and Trenton are happy.”
The second question asked the candidates if they will support the $25 million dollar facility proposal.
All candidates wearily said yes, but would like to look into it further.
“I give a conditional yes because we need the extra classrooms and the existing ones should be brought up to standard,” Rathod said. He then questioned though whether the dollar amount is accurate and what costs could be cut in different ways. “Coming back to the tax payers for the third time is discomforting and this is where I would want to use my budgeting experience,” Rathod said.
Jasin said that “there are a lot of things tied into the referendum that can potentially have cost savings for us.” He suggested bringing children back into the district and out of private schools to lower costs.
Chirls said the plans should be evaluated because she has “some real concerns” due to recent demographic studies that “have not been reliable.” She also wants to make sure the plans include enough classroom space.
All three candidates agreed that one of the most pressing issues facing the Board of Education is the budget and quality of education.
Each candidate mentioned the possibility of special needs children being brought back to the public schools to lower costs, but questioned whether it would be the right move for them.
“The challenges are all related and connected--a lot of questions need to be asked to the district and there needs to be open communication,” Jasin said.
Chirls completed the Q&A portion of the forum by stating, “it is important to select a candidate who will be fiscally responsible-- someone who serves the community as a whole and meets educational needs for our children."
Livingston registered voters will be given the opportunity to vote for the school board candidates in the general election on November 6.