School Board Candidate Statement: Art Altman on How I Can Make a Difference
Friday, October 25, 2013 • 6:55am
LIVINGSTON, NJ - I am running for the Livingston Board of Education because I know I can make a positive difference in the education of our children and also to the wallets of our residents. As a lifelong NJ resident and part of the Livingston community for the past 13 years, I know how important quality schools are to the community. My wife, a public school teacher, and I have two children in our schools. Our school system is great, and I won’t try to “fix” what isn’t broken. However, we can do better and achieve more.
As the only CPA on the Board, I can find opportunities to constrain costs and locate new revenue sources. Bringing in revenue and reducing expenses is not just a campaign slogan that will be quickly forgotten after elections. It will be my focus. Goals will be set. Progress on meeting those goals will be on the agenda at every Board meeting. There is much that can be done.
There has been $133 million in bonding in the last nine years. The debt service for this year alone will be over $7 million. We should put a moratorium on new bonding. For future projects, we should raise funds by establishing endowments and building funds. Finding other ways to pay for new capital improvements today is the responsible option.
Grant writers can be retained. A talented grant writer will bring in 10 times his or her salary. Recently, the South Orange school system was awarded $1.25 million from just one grant.
We need to enhance our special needs program. Livingston spends over 7 million dollars per year in out-of-district tuition for our special needs students. By building a recognized world- class institution for special needs education, we will reap many benefits. We will bring students back to our schools saving out-of-district tuition and transportation costs. Our special needs students can attend schools in Livingston and not have to travel to other towns each day. An outstanding special needs program will encourage out-of-district students to use —and pay tuition for—our special needs program.
We can build up the Livingston Educational Foundation to be a powerhouse fund raising organization.
We can join together with other school districts and demand that our lawmakers in Trenton and Washington fund educational mandates that cost our schools millions per year.
With a master’s degree in computer science and 15 years of managing computer systems, I have a technology background that is unique to the Board. Technology for education has already come of age with Smart Boards, iPad carts and computer labs. That is just the beginning. We need a well thought-out technology strategy. In today’s world, technology changes rapidly. We need to be able to change direction quickly to take advantage of the technology that will have the greatest impact on the education of our children.
I will work hard to bring more community involvement to the schools. I would like to see much closer relationships of parents and educators in the teaching of the curriculum. We have renowned experts in town on many different subjects. We should have them involved in advisory committees and as adjunct educators. The benefits are tremendous: Free expertise by prominent leaders, connections with corporations and businesses to help with shared resources, donations, and internships.
As a certified project management professional, I am well versed with making things happen. Yes, our schools our great. But we can do even better and achieve more.