Without a local debate this year, MercerMe asked questions of candidates running for HVRSD Board of Education based on ongoing community issues in the vicinity. The answers in this article have been provided by Elizabeth Maziarz, who is running for HVRSD Board of Education.
What professional and personal skills do you bring that would make you a successful board member?
I have spent most of my life in this community, and have a deep investment in how the schools are run. I also have extensive experience in undergraduate education, know firsthand the challenges today’s students are facing in college, and have concerns about how they can be better prepared for those challenges. I’m a good listener, analyze complex information quickly, and try to consider all facets of a situation before I make a decision. Learning is one of the great joys of life, and I believe every student should have a chance to fully experience that joy.
How would you balance the need for students’ safety with the need for a welcoming school climate? Do you support any staff members having a gun in school?
Student safety is, of course, a top priority for parents and educators. Providing this safety while also maintaining a welcoming climate is a fluid process, and different buildings may require unique solutions. And while I am open to considering many ideas to find this balance, I do not believe arming staff members to be a prudent or appropriate choice.
How well does the District address issues related to racism, bullying, the lgbtq community, and income disparity? What, if anything, should it do differently?
Every person deserves respect no matter what they look like, how they worship, who they love, or how much money they have. The District is clearly taking steps to to address what happens when people don’t respect one another. It is my hope that these steps will include exposing students to a broad range of ideas, cultures, and life experiences from an early age, so we can reduce the number of problematic incidents and build a community of broad- minded citizens.
In addition to academics, our schools now educate our students in such topics as social-emotional wellness and suicide prevention. Do you think this is appropriate? How well do you think the schools do in communicating with parents and the larger community about sensitive subjects?
I think it is completely appropriate to educate students about emotional wellness and suicide prevention, and it has been my experience that the District communicates effectively about these issues.
Please comment on this year’s budget process.
The consensus among those in Hopewell Borough with whom I’ve spoken seems to be frustration with the lack of transparency in this year’s budget process. Though it would of course be optimal if people paid more consistent attention to what the Board is doing throughout the year, it seems clear that the Board also needs to communicate more consistently with the community.
Do you think that standardized testing is the best way to measure student achievement? If not, what do you think is better and how would you implement it?
Standardized testing is by no means the best or only way to measure student achievement. It’s a small snapshot of an infinitely larger picture. More and more colleges and universities are making standardized tests an optional component of the admissions process, and the New Jersey State Department of Education is actively looking for other pathways to measure student achievement. I think it would behoove us to have a district wide conversation about meaningful ways to measure and encourage all kinds of learning.
Are you running as part of a slate, and if so, why?
I am not running as part of a slate.