Accountability, integrity, experience

To the Editor:

My name is Ava Finnerty, currently a Bayonne Board of Education trustee who is seeking re-election on November 6, 2018 for another three-year term. My ballot number is (7 – I). I am seeking re-election along with Joseph Broderick (6– I), Charles Ryan (8 – I) and Mikel Lawandy (19– I). My past experience includes being a teacher in this Bayonne school system for 34 years. I began my career here in Bayonne after having had taught in Jersey City parochial schools for eight years. My husband and I have been married for 48 years, own a home here in Bayonne and have three children. All three attended Bayonne public schools. Our two daughters are currently teachers, one in Bayonne and one in Edison. Our son, a Naval Academy graduate is the national sales manager for a medical device company. Both my husband and I attribute their success to the very solid education they received from the Bayonne school system. I have always been a staunch proponent of the public-school system, and I firmly believe that the schools are the lifeblood of a community. Upon retirement, I continued to be actively involved by attending board meetings and staying current with educational issues. In 2015, when Bayonne moved from having an appointed board to having an elected board, I decided then to seek election. I wanted to effect a change to better this system. I was elected in 2015. These past three years have been extremely challenging, very rewarding, and quite enlightening. My credo then remains the same as it is now: “Keep politics out of the Board of Education.” There is no place for cronyism or nepotism in any Board of Education. A trustee should be and needs to be elected for what he or she believes in and what he or she can bring to the board meeting room.
Three years ago, the newly elected board was challenged by a huge financial crisis, an unsettled teachers’ contract, and ever-changing educational mandates by Trenton. Also, in 2015, this school system had a less than stellar attendance rate, lowered academic expectations, and less than proficient school performance grades. The newly elected board “grabbed the bull by the horns” and along with the cooperation of this district’s staff and administration has realized some of its goals. Most notably these goals include settling a fair four-year teachers’ contract, adding increased security measures and security personnel, creating a strategic plan with targets and measurable goals, creating two job fairs for BHS alumni and the Bayonne community, establishing a Parent Organization/Trustee committee, searching for and hiring a more than capable interim superintendent, creating a promotion/retention policy, reinstituting a passing grade of 70, implementing Foundations Phonics K-2, increasing student attendance rate to above 90 percent, updating and enhancing curriculum affording all students the opportunity to take advantage of enhanced courses, creating three additional full-day pre-kindergarten programs, and being named by QSAC as a “highly performing district”in the state, a designation that was last achieved in 2012.
I, along with Joseph Broderick (6-I), Charles Ryan (8-I) and Mikel Lawandy(19 -I) have a shared vision, which includes many other objectives. Our biggest challenges are maintaining our aging buildings and providing more space for our students, providing for more vocational opportunities, enhancing our bilingual programs, and improving our special needs programs. On the horizon looms the task of hiring a business administrator who has the financial acumen to manage our district and hiring a permanent superintendent who has the vision and the knowledge to help our district to continueon its path of moving from “Good to Great.”
On November 6, 2018 please re-elect Joseph Broderick (6-I), Ava Finnerty (7-I), Charles Ryan, (8-I) and Mikel Lawandy (19-I). For sure we bring the “accountability, integrity, and experience” that is required.