The Verona Board of Education’s meetings can run long. Before the pandemic, it was not uncommon for a BOE meeting to last three hours; during the pandemic, they spilled past midnight several times. But it’s not just the two monthly meetings. Every BOE member serves on sub-committees and there are regular meetings for them that focus on athletics, academics, buildings and grounds, and more. It all adds up to a lot of hours spent on an unpaid position.
We wanted to know how the three candidates who are running for two seats on the BOE in November will manage the commitment in addition to their jobs. That is the second of the four common questions that we asked of Pam Priscoe, Chris Wacha and Ron Mueller. You can read all their answers, as well as their answers to the four additional questions specific to their campaign, by clicking on their names above, which are ordered by their position on the ballot.
Question two: The BOE is the most demanding community position in Verona, often requiring upwards of over 10 hours per week of unpaid time from its members, and you all have day jobs. What in your current job roles and responsibilities might prevent you from fully carrying out your duties on the BOE? And how will you find time to commit fully to the work of the Board?
Pam Priscoe: There is a lot of time that goes into being a Board member. It’s not just attending the Board of Ed meetings every two weeks, there’s meetings prior during the day. I have taken my lunch hours during my job, and luckily I do work in the community so I have flexibility with taking a lunch hour, to hop on a call for a meeting. I am able to do that, so my flexibility with that is tremendous. The other thing is, now that my son Andrew, my youngest, graduated in 2021, I feel I’ll have even more free time to really dedicate to the community and to the district. The Board is very, very time consuming and I’m not sure if so many people realize the time and the commitment that goes into volunteering for this position. Read more Pam Priscoe answers here.
Chris Wacha: To answer the first part, I don’t believe that there’s anything that will be a prohibitive factor. I’m 100% committed to this. This deserves it. I think it’s likely very accurate that this could be one of the most demanding volunteer or elected jobs in our community. But, you know, my son’s almost a man. He’s going to be a freshman in high school next year. My wife and I only had one kid, because that’s the way it’s gonna have to be. There’s going to be no more basketball Rec teams to coach or Little Leagues to coach because when he’s in high school there’s going to be other coaches for all those things. So, I don’t imagine that there’d be really anything that’s going to prevent me. I am a school superintendent, and I talked to my Board of Education. I told them I was interested in the same way that they were when they were running for the spots in Haledon and I want to do this, and they were very supportive. They said whatever meeting, whatever night of the week we’re going to meet, we’ll schedule our meetings at different times, so that there won’t be that conflict of interest.
But but but I think that, moreover, in addition, I think that a big part of this is not necessarily an unfamiliar role for me. You know, I sit as a non-voting member of the Haledon Board of Education. I’m also on the Northern Region Board of Education executive director group. I’m very familiar with board of education practices, so it’s not just going to really be a learning curve, or anything like that. I anticipate that I’ll be able to give 100% of my attention to this very important job. Read more Chris Wacha answers here.
Ron Mueller:I think that everybody has this issue they have to deal with, especially if they’re holding down a full-time job as well as being a member of the BOE and I know that some several current members have full-time jobs. I’ve made that commitment with my wife, who would be a huge support structure for me to enable me to be able to give that time commitment to this role if elected. I feel that it’s extremely important to become a member of the BOE now as we’re in this transition for a new superintendent and for a lot of the budget issues that we’re dealing with now and that we may have to deal with in the future.That’s one of the reasons I stepped up, and one of the reasons I’m really keen on becoming a member of the Board of Education because it is a crucial time for this town, and for the for the children in our schools, of which I have two and of which I, am fully invested in their futures, to make sure that we put ourselves on the right path and that we are ready to accept the challenges that lay ahead. So I had a long discussion with my wife about it and I said you know if we do do this there will be some time involved. I have the flexibility in my job to work flexible schedules as needed to make sure that I fulfill all of the duties that are responsibilities for the Board of Education members. And between that and my very supportive wife and my children, we definitely will do what we have to do to make sure that I have the time needed in order to fill this role. Read more Ron Mueller answers here.
The answers to question one, “What Does The BOE Do?” are here.
The full interviews with each candidate are here: Pam Priscoe, Chris Wacha and Ron Mueller.