Six candidates are vying for three three-year terms on the Red Bank Board of Education in the November 3 election. To help voters compare the candidates in terms of personal background and positions on key issues, redbankgreen emailed them identical sets of questions late last week. Here’s what Michael Clancy had to say in response.
Name: Michael Clancy
Address: 45 Worthley St. Apt B, Red Bank, NJ
Where did you attend elementary/middle school?
Hooper Ave. Elementary/Toms River Intermediate East (Toms River, NJ)
Where did go to high school?
Toms River HS North
Did you graduate from college? If so, which school, with what degree?
Rutgers College, Rutgers University BA in Biological Sciences
Have your served in the military? If so, which branch and when?
What do you do for a living? (Title, employer, brief description of your responsibilities):
Senior Clinical Specialist, Medtronic, provide technical and clinical support to health care professionals during surgeries, follow-ups in clinics and hospitals, and provide sales support on Medtronic products and services.
How long have you been a resident of Red Bank?
Since January 2015
Do you own real estate in town?
I do not. One day I would like to, but right now I would not be able to afford the property taxes. When I am elected to the BOE I intend to change that. Red Bank deserves good schools and fair property taxes. Right now they have neither.
Do you have children?
Do they/will they/have they attended school in the borough? If so, which school(s)?
Roughly how many Red Bank school board meetings have you attended?
Why are you running for a seat on the board?
Ever since finishing my MBA I have had a passion for public policy. I feel that giving my time to the school board is an excellent way to give back to the community and I believe with my education and professional experience I could have a positive impact on the education of future generations.
What should Red Bank residents expect of a BOE member?
They should expect a BOE member to show up to all board meetings well prepared and educated on topics at hand, and be ready and willing to debate on all issues in a respectful manner. They should also expect their tax money to get results. Unfortunately, we are paying over $20,000 per pupil with some of the lowest ranked schools in the state. Our peer schools are on par with Newark, Camden and Asbury Park schools. This is unacceptable.
What do you think of political party involvement in local school board elections? Is it acceptable? Why or why not?
No. School board elections should be nonpartisan and free from any ideological bias. The school board should not be used as breeding ground for future elected office positions. Unfortunately, the Democrat party has used it as a “bench” for new council members.
Are the Red Bank primary and middle schools doing a good job educating children and preparing them for high school and beyond?
Red Bank primary and Red Bank Middle schools are ranked in the BOTTOM 13th and 20th percentile respectively for Academic achievement statewide. Barely 50% of our students are proficient in Math. This lack of proficiency permeates every race, color, creed and socioeconomic status in our Borough. This is unacceptable.
If not, how would you try to improve outcomes?
What is your approach to fiscal issues such as budgeting, taxes and debt?
Red Bank schools are some of the most expensive in the State with a per pupil cost of over $20,000. There is little return on this investment and in addition, little evidence that ties dollars to achievement. See: Newark, Camden, Red Bank
In your view, has the current board done everything possible to keep a lid on the borough school tax?
No. I think it is pretty clear that they are incapable of managing a budget and have shown time and time again that they will force us to pay double digit tax increases to pay for failing schools.
If no, what would you do to change that?
The first thing I would do is work hand in hand with our state representatives to ensure we get the state funding we deserve. Last year the state shorted Red Bank Borough 600k dollars. I would have the board meet with our state representatives on a regular basis to ensure we have a voice in Trenton. Unfortunately, many of our current partisan board members are entrenched in a political party and have an antagonistic relationship with our Governor and state legislators.
Are there any school operations or services you think should be reduced or eliminated?
The failure of the board to ensure our children are properly educated
Will you propose specific cuts? If so, please identify them.
Since, I am not on the board; I do not have access to real world information which shows the value of various line items. It would irresponsible to do so. However, it is pretty clear that the current school board members solve every budget issue with double-digit tax increases.
What are the primary criteria you have used or would use in deciding whether to vote in favor of a tax increase?
Short of an unforeseen catastrophe, like a fire or a natural disaster, I would not vote in favor of any tax increase.
Governor Chris Christie has characterized the teachers’ union as the largest obstacle to school reform. Do you agree?
Yes. In the 2013 election the NJEA spent roughly 20 million on lobbying. For the state Senate and Assembly election the NJEA contributed $700k to Democrats and $115k to Republicans. This creates a perverse incentive for legislators. It is in their best interest to prevent reform because of where they get their votes from. In addition, the NJEA is one of the largest donors to school board candidates. I will pledge to never take a donation from NJEA as it is a conflict of interest.
Red Bank has a publicly funded charter school. Should it?
Yes. One of the reasons I am running for School Board is I am a big believer in school choice. Whether it is through charter schools, voucher programs or tax credits, I believe giving parents options in their children’s education allows them to choose the education that is the best fit for their child. The one size fits all approach to education is failing our children and without competition, stagnation breeds.
Should children of undocumented immigrants be subject to potential deportation?
I assume that if I were running for President, I would need a plan for this. However, at the School Board level, I don’t believe I have a vote. If you are simply asking my opinion….no.
What specific initiatives, if any, would you attempt to implement if you are elected?
A hard look at the budget. Let’s see what is working and what isn’t and provide teachers with what they need to do to serve in the classroom. Moreover, we need to control overcrowding. I will work with Borough Hall and the Rent Leveling Control Board to ensure Red Bank students are truly Red Bank residents.
Is there anything else you’d like voters to know?
In high school I was recruited to play college football. I had opportunities to play college football just about anywhere I wanted to and Rutgers was the last on my list. The head coach at the time came to me with a vision to turn Rutgers into a University the State of New Jersey could be proud of. I made the decision stay in state to help realize that vision and today all over NJ people proudly display the Rutgers block R. I have a vision for Red Bank Schools where the residents of Red Bank take pride in their schools and proudly send their children there. Once elected to school board, I intend to realize that vision. My dream is to one day raise a family and send my children to Red Bank public schools.
All six candidates have been invited to participate in a forum sponsored by the Monmouth County League of Women Voters and the Red Bank Middle School PTO at the middle school at 7:15 p.m. on Thursday, October 15. For more information about the event, call 732-768-0594.