There are three candidates running for the Board of Education in November, and MyVeronaNJ.com has done Zoom interviews with all three. We asked them eight questions in all. The first four were the same for each candidate, while the second were about that candidate’s experience and positions.
We published each interview on a page specifically for that candidate: Pam Priscoe, Chris Wacha, Ron Mueller. But we thought it might also help readers to gather the answers to each of the common questions in a separate post. You can read all the answers together, or zero in on one answer by clicking on a candidate’s name in the list below, which is ordered by their position on the ballot. If fact checks or clarification are needed, it is noted in italics after the answer.
The first question is: When you talk to prospective voters about what the Board of Education can–and cannot do–what do you tell them?
Pam Priscoe: What I tell them now is different from my three years ago because I was not in the board seat. I didn’t really fully understand then what a board member can do and their role. And after being on the Board and seeing the other side of what goes on behind the back side of it and going through over 60 hours of personal development training. Once I became a Board member, I then realized that our job is to listen. And if somebody has an issue, we are to tell them the steps that they need to follow. Did you reach out to the teacher? Did you reach out to the principal? If you didn’t get anywhere with the principal, then you know the director or special services or then to the superintendent, and if you don’t have any luck anywhere there then you come to the board, and hopefully we can move things along and see where things are at. But normally it’s to tell everyone that there’s a policy and procedures, and they have to follow that. I try to hear everyone because people want to be heard. Everyone wants to be heard and they have the right to be heard. Unfortunately, there’s only so much as a Board member that we’re entitled to actually do. Read more Pam Priscoe answers here.
Chris Wacha: So, a board of education, primarily, they’re going to look to hire the superintendent. Secondarily, they’re going to look to evaluate a superintendent. After that, the board of education can vote on agenda items that are put on most likely by the superintendent or oftentimes by the business administrator or board secretary. The Board can ask questions about any aspect of those agenda items that come on. In Verona, because it’s a consent agenda, Board members may ask that there be separate discussion or vote on any particular agenda item. So we vote on policy, but we don’t necessarily set policy, and we vote essentially on the recommendations of the superintendent and our vote is based on the questions we ask the superintendent based on the agenda items. Read more Chris Wacha answers here.
According to the New Jersey School Boards Association, “Setting policy is a primary responsibility of the local board of education.”
Ron Mueller: I say that right now I’m learning that as I go because we just had an NJSBA [New Jersey School Boards Association] briefing or training session that I’m going to be attending next Tuesday for just that exact reason. For me, it’s about educating myself about what the Board can and cannot do, but also understanding exactly what is within the rights of the Board, that I may or may not see happening now or may or may not need to see happening in the future. So you know for me it’s first about getting the proper training which I’m going to be doing next week on Tuesday, like I mentioned, and fully embracing all the resources that are available. As soon as I announced my candidacy I was contacted by a number of members throughout different organizations that offered up the kind of webinar or training that I’ve been just ingesting right now. So I would say my goal is to get up to speed with all of that. Obviously, adhere to the rules and the guidelines of the Board of Education and roles and responsibilities, but also fully understand what is the full rights of a Board member and what they can and cannot do going forward. Read more Ron Mueller answers here.