Finances, community involvement, academics and communication are areas on which this year’s candidates hope to focus if elected to any of the three three-year seats.
Residents Dana C. Boguszewski, Deena Centofanti, Aldo J. Martinez, Lorraine E. Soisson and Allen Zdroik filed for the three open seats last week that are currently occupied by Boguszewski, Steve Paget and Marc Rosenberg.
Dana Boguszewski is the only incumbent filing for re-election to her board seat; and announced that they would not run in this year’s election last week. Boguszewski is finishing the remaining year in Barbara Sargent’s three-year term, after Sargent resigned from the post to take a superintendent post in a neighboring district.
“My whole life revolves around children,” she said. “I’m a pediatric certified Emergency Room nurse. To me, it’s just another way to help the kids and be a voice for them. It is also a way for my to give back to my community.
“I really enjoy walking around and finding out what my local neighbors want,” she added.
Boguszewski named technology integration, enhancing instruction, and improving communication between school staff and parents as areas on which she’d focus. She also said balancing the demands of running a school district and finances would be an area for concentration.
“Of course, I want the budget to pass,” she said. “I realize how caring everyone that’s on the board is. Everyone has the best interest for the children and community at heart. I’m a working parent though. I don’t really want my taxes to go up but I want schools that are good for my children.”
Boguszewski currently serves on the district’s Human Resources Committee, and could see herself serving on it again if she’s re-elected.
“I would like to stay on that because that’s what I’m familiar with,” she said. “I think that gives me a chance to help finding quality teachers.”
In addition to her time on the Board, Boguszewski also volunteers with the Leukemia Lymphoma Society and with Team for Kids, and is involved in recreation soccer, she said.
For Lorraine Soisson, years of service on with her Home and School Association led to her first encounters with the Board of Education.
“I’ve been president of the HSA (Home School Association) at Triangle and ARIS, so I’ve been able to education myself about how the school board works,” Soisson said. “I just think it seemed like a good time to get involved.”
As the liaison to the Board of Education for the district’s joint-HSA council, Soisson also spent time working with sitting board President Steven Paget—who she says encouraged her to run for a seat.
A 12-year resident, Soisson holds a Bachelor of Science from Cedar Crest College and a PhD in Biochemistry, Cellular and Molecular Biology from Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. She works with the United State Agency for International Development on their Malaria Vaccine Development Program, she said.
Soisson has also served as a team parent for the Hillsborough Soccer Club and is involved with the Somerset Valley YMCA swim teams. She’s on the Board of Directors for Roycefield Swim Club, and is also president of the swim club’s booster club.
Soisson has no particular hot-button issue when it comes to the schools, though she’s concerned about balancing taxes while providing a quality education, she said. As a result, she’s open to serving on any of the board’s three committees, though she noted a particular interest in academics.
“I don’t have an issue of choice,” Soisson said. “I just want to use my expertise to make the best decisions for the children of Hillsborough.
“With the shrinking budget, I know previous candidates have run on having lower taxes,” she added. “I’m absolutely concerned about our taxes, but I don’t think that should be the driving force behind our decisions.”
It’s also something Soisson and her friend, Allen Zdroik, agreed to pursue simultaneously. Zdroik is a 13-year township resident, having moved to Hillsborugh in 1999, he said.
“We felt that this was a good time to give back to the community and help improve education,” Zdroik said. “We need to look at making sure we have a good, solid, leading school district for all students. “
As a coach for the Junior Raiders, Hillsborough Baseball League, and Mary, Mother of God Christian Youth Organization Basketball and a Cub Scout Den Leader, Zdroik takes a particular interest in ensuring sports and other extra curricular activities are available to all students and balance the academics the schools provide.
Professionally, Zdroik has worked in finance and accounting, though he’s now a stay-at-home dad for his two sons. Like Soisson, he’s open to serving on any of the board’s three committees, though he said his background would lend itself to finance-oriented areas.
“I’m pretty flexible,” Zdroik said. “I try and be the first-year person who fill in where needed. I think I can serve the community well with a strong finance background.”
A commitment to public service is what let candidate Aldo Martinez to submit his petition for a board seat. Martinez ran for a seat on the Township Committee during the November election, but did not comment his switch to the Board of Education race.
“I believe strongly in public service, and I have the time and skills to contribute in this manner” Martinez said. “My background in business management, finance, law, and all levels of education will serve the Board well. Maintaining a high quality and sustainable public school system is vitally important to every resident in Hillsborough and imperative for our children’s future.”
Martinez holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration from St. Peter’s College and a law degree from Seton Hall University School of Law. He served as Vice President of the New York Stock Exchange Regulations, as well as serving on the Board of Regents of St. Peter’s College. Since retiring from the New York Stock Exchange, he’s taught at St. Peter’s College as well.
He’s also coached Christian Youth Organization basketball and youth baseball, he said.
Martinez identified class sizes, maintaining and improving the district’s staffing pool, enriching education and finances as particular areas on which he’d focus. In addition, he’d like to increase the interaction between the school and business sectors.
“Another focus of my attention is creating partnerships with the business sector to prepare our students for domestic and global economic competition,” Martinez said. “Since business is one of the significant beneficiaries of a well educated and trained workforce, business should be involved in developing the talents and skills of our students.”
His experience in the business and academic world draws him to all facets of the board’s operations, he said. He would also like to work on increasing parent and community involvement in the school district, he said.
“I would be interested in working in all areas of the Board’s structure: Curriculum, to assist in preparing our students for the twenty-first century world and all of its challenges,” he said. “Finance, to utilize my experience in budget preparation, financial oversight, and regulatory discipline; and Human Resources, to assure that we hire well and provide meaningful professional development opportunities for our teachers and staff.”
Candidate Deena Centofanti could not be reached for comment.