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 Irwin Katz had to say in response.
Name: Irwin I. Katz
Address: 19 Morford Place Apt. 8B Red Bank, NJ 07701
Where did you attend elementary/middle school? PS11 (K-6th) and PS73 (7th-8th)
Where did go to high school? William Howard Taft High School
Did you graduate from college? If so, which school, with what degree? Yes, Fairleigh Dickinson University with a BS in Economics.
Have your served in the military? If so, which branch and when? Yes, US Army from January 1967-December 1968. (Vietman 1968)
What do you do for a living? (Title, employer, brief description of your responsibilities): Semi-retired
How long have you been a resident of Red Bank? I have been a resident of Red Bank for 7 years.
Do you own real estate in town? No.
Do you have children? Yes, I have 5 children.
Do they/will they/have they attended school in the borough? If so, which school(s)? Yes. My youngest has attended/graduated from Red Bank Middle School. All my five children have graduated from Red Bank Regional High School.
Roughly how many Red Bank school board meetings have you attended? I have attended one with my youngest daughter.
Why are you running for a seat on the board?
I feel I can contribute a positive perspective from a viewpoint of a parent seeing first hand his child grow immensely during her experience at the Middle School.
What should Red Bank residents expect of a BOE member?
Red Bank residents should expect that a BOE member should be objective with the one and only goal of helping our children get the best education they can in mind. This includes making a positive contribution to our community.
What do you think of political party involvement in local school board elections? Is it acceptable? Why or why not?
There should not be any interference with the mission of the board by narrow political interest. Too many times people use this office for their own personal political needs and use it as a stepping stone into higher political positions. The main purpose of the local school board is to enhance the education of the child and make opportunities available.
Are the Red Bank primary and middle schools doing a good job educating children and preparing them for high school and beyond? If not, how would you try to improve outcomes?
Currently, the Red Bank Primary and Middle Schools are doing a good job. However, I feel we can do a better job in preparing our children for their high school experience. This includes not only academic goals, but getting them exposed to the specialization available at the high school. Red Bank Regional High School is academy focused and has expanded passed the ordinary high school experience. Red Bank students should have the option to participate in these opportunities.
What is your approach to fiscal issues such as budgeting, taxes and debt?
I am a fiscal conservative. I believe we can offer the best education within the constraints of today’s financial reality.
In your view, has the current board done everything possible to keep a lid on the borough school tax? If no, what would you do to change that?
I have not yet studied the inner workings of the borough’s school taxing system and do not want to claim I am an expert in this field as yet.
Are there any school operations or services you think should be reduced or eliminated?
I am not qualified at this moment to make a judgment. If elected, I will attempt to become more knowledgeable before making public judgment.
Will you propose specific cuts? If so, please identify them.
No, not at this time.
What are the primary criteria you have used or would use in deciding whether to vote in favor of a tax increase?
If needed beyond a shadow of a doubt.
Governor Chris Christie has characterized the teachers’ union as the largest obstacle to school reform. Do you agree?
No, I think Governor Chris Christie is the biggest obstacle to school reform.
Red Bank has a publicly funded charter school. Should it?
I am not versed properly in the funding and arrangement of a charter school.
Should children of undocumented immigrants be subject to potential deportation?
I am a son of an immigrant. I understand how difficult is to come to a new country and want students to be able to get all the opportunities possible. They were born in this country and are entitled to every advantage every child who is born in this country has. To single out children that have no power over where they are born is absurd.
What specific initiatives, if any, would you attempt to implement if you are elected?
I would attempt to implement positive programs that will benefit our children in their future educational experience.
Is there anything else you’d like voters to know?
I seek this job, not for any personal ambition, but to give back to my community. My children were able to take advantage of their opportunities. I want to make certain that EVERY child has this advantage.
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.