The town electorate can also decide whether to approve the $33.1 million budget that the Secaucus school board unanimously voted for on March 29 (see page 4).
Six candidates are seeking to fill three slots on the board, with the winners gaining the right to serve a three-year term.
The incumbents who are running are Anthony Gerbasio and Tom Troyer. Member Michael Schlemm is not running again.
The six candidates were asked some questions about their background, why they are running, and their visions for Secaucus' educational future.
Edilberto 'Bert' Aguilera
Aguilera, 55, is a certified public accountant. He has a bachelor of science degree in business administration form the University of the East in Manila, the Philippines. He also earned a certified public accountant certificate from the University of Illinois-Chicago, and has completed credits towards an MBA at Pace University in New York City. He is married to wife MaryAnn and has two children.
Aguilera is currently the Secaucus Public Library Board of Trustee Treasurer and Finance Committee Chairman. He is also a former Secaucus Board of Health member and a former legislative aide to New Jersey State Assemblyman Vincent Prieto (D-32nd Dist.). Aguilera has lived in Secaucus for 15 years.
"With my experience in business and in corporate governance, I feel I could do more for the community if I was on the Board of Education. The rising costs of education will always be an issue, and I can help deal with it, especially as part of the finance committee. I want to look into expenses to make sure that we have the kind of budget that we need to maintain the quality of education that we have. Funding for the schools is coming mostly from property taxes, which is a direct concern for town taxpayers. I hope I can use my expertise to help alleviate the taxpayers' concerns. We also have to make sure that we equip our schools to face the technological challenges of the 21st century."
"My election on to the Secaucus School Board would also bring an important dimension to the board, which is diversity. Diversity in professional background, education, culture and ethnicity is very important. The Secaucus school system is getting more diverse, and my presence on the board would be a reflection of that change."
Broemmer, 67, is a school nurse at the Woodrow Wilson School, located in Weehawken but under the auspices of the Union City school district. She has a bachelor of science degree in nursing from Felician College in Lodi. She is married to husband George and has three children and four grandchildren. She has worked 12 years at Woodrow Wilson. Before that, she was a public health nurse for 11 years for the city of Union City. She also worked as a hospital nurse at St. Mary's Hospital in Hoboken. She has lived in Secaucus for 46 years.
"I think I have something to offer the Board of Education. I work at a wonderful school, with a lot of innovative things going on. I think I can bring that information and experience to Secaucus. I understand school systems because I already work in one."
"We have a good school system that could be made better. We are not a poor town. There is a lot of room for improvement. I work in a small school, and I would like to keep classes small in Secaucus. We have an arts integrated program at my school. That means we teach academic subjects through the use of the arts. It works very well, and I think that it could work well in Secaucus. That's of utmost importance. However, we also have to remember that we have a large senior community in town that we have to consider when we make decisions as well. I would want fellow board members to be aware that I'm not out to undo anything, but rather to offer positive things."
Anthony Gerbasio (incumbent)
Gerbasio, 47, is a UPS manager in Saddle Brook, and has worked for the company for 24 years. He is a 1977 graduate of Secaucus High School. He is married to wife Debra (an English and video production teacher at Secaucus Middle School) and has two children.
He was elected to the board in 2003, and began serving in 2004. He sits on several local charity boards, including the Steven Strobert Foundation, the Secaucus High School Booster Club, the KNS Social Athletic Club, and is also involved in the York Street Project in Jersey City.
"I'm running for re-election because I want to try and finish what we started. I was involved in helping to build the Arthur Couch Performing Arts Center and putting in the dress code. I'm most proud of helping to institute drug testing. I was in the first class to graduate from the high school, and to see it from where we were to now is impressive."
"What I've been trying to do all along is to get big business involved in education. We have some large corporations in Secaucus, and we should get some money from them to subsidize what we want to do since the state isn't going to give us as much. I want to go to these big businesses and say that Secaucus was ranked number 19 in New Jersey Monthly's list of best places to live because of them, but also because of us. We can keep taxes down even more if we can get them involved. We have to find out where to get the money that we need for our kids. We have to prepare them so that they are ready for college and for the world."
McStowe, 54, has been a postman for 34 years and has been a tax preparer for 15 years. He is married to wife Katherine and has two children. He has been the director of the Secaucus youth soccer league for the past eight years, and has coached soccer for 10 years. He has belonged to the KNS Club for 26 years. McStowe has also been involved with various aspects of town recreation over the years. He is a Secaucus band parent, and is a member of the P.T.A. McStowe has lived in Secaucus for 33 years.
"I've always found the board to be a very interesting volunteer position. I feel everybody should be involved in their community, and now I have the time to dedicate to serving on the school board. I want to be a communicator between the parents and children on one side and the board on the other. I feel very strongly that we should have board members who have children in the system."
"The one major issue facing any school board is keeping up with technology in the classroom. You can't let that lag behind, because then the students will get too far behind their peers. My involvement with parents over the years in recreation has helped me to hear a lot of ideas for the board. Now I could be able to bring those ideas to the board on their behalf."
Trombetta, 50, is self-employed with his own flooring business, FTC Carpet in Lyndhurst. He is a graduate of Hoboken High School. He is married to wife Cheryl and has five children and one grandchild. He was president of the Secaucus Little League for seven years. He has lived in Secaucus for 26 years.
"I was always active in the community regarding youth development, whether it was Little League or other recreation activities. I've volunteered my time for over 18 years. Running for the school board is just another step in volunteering my time for the youth of the community."
"I think Secaucus has a very good school system. I think that we should focus on making sure academics and extracurricular activities keep on working hand-in-hand. They compliment each other, and help keep kids out of trouble. My experiences in business and in Little League administration have helped me learn how to troubleshoot problems and bridge policy and procedure. We need to get people involved in our school system as it grows so we can make a great school system even better."
Tom Troyer (incumbent)
Troyer, 74, was a teacher for 45 years, 25 of those in the Union City school system. He is now retired. He received his bachelor degree from Montclair State University, and obtained enough credits at Seton Hall University to get his masters' equivalency in education in order to be certified. He has served on the Secaucus Board of Education for a combined total of 12 years, his most recent term of office having begun in 2004. He is widowed with two sons and three grandchildren. Troyer also served on the Secaucus Housing Authority from 1994 to 1999. He has lived in Secaucus for 46 years.
"I'm running again because in the next three years, I believe that political influence and interference is going to raise its head in a way that will change the whole school system, including when they pick a new school superintendent. I don't want the politicians in town to name who it should be. We should get the best person possible."
"In the years ahead, we have to look at where we are in terms of building new facilities, as well as keeping up with technology. We have to spend our money on the things that are most important. If we are going to replace something, we should get something of equal value or better. Our priorities should be one of our main concerns. I pride myself on listening to the people and getting things done. I try to reflect what the people want. I plan to keep on doing exactly that."
Mark J. Bonamo can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.