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 incumbent Frederick Stone had to say in response.
Name: Frederick J. Stone
Address: 16 McLaren St
Where did you attend elementary/middle school?
I started kindergarten in the Chicago public schools and from the third grade on attended the Skokie, Illinois District 68 public schools.
Where did go to high school?
Niles Township High School—North Division, also in Skokie.
Did you graduate from college? If so, which school, with what degree?
I graduated from Northwestern University with a BS in Medicine and an MD.
Have your served in the military? If so, which branch and when? No
What do you do for a living? (Title, employer, brief description of your responsibilities):
I am a retired physician (pathologist) who still teaches pathology to second year medical students at Rutgers Medical School.
How long have you been a resident of Red Bank?
Do you own real estate in town?
Do you have children?
Do they/will they/have they attended school in the borough? If so, which school(s)?
My younger stepson had an excellent experience attending the Red Bank Middle School for the eight grade.
Roughly how many Red Bank school board meetings have you attended?
80 Board Meetings and roughly 100 committee meetings
Why are you running for a seat on the board?
Public education is critical to the future of America and its people. To most people, public education is their pathway to personal success and to the capacity for leadership. I am running for reelection to the Board of Education with a sense of enormous gratitude for what my public education provided to me. As a grandfather, I want to be certain those of my grandchildren’s generation can continue to build an ever better society using the tools gained in public education as I hope am I.
What should Red Bank residents expect of a BOE member?
The smart marshaling of the resources of our community to help our children fulfill their humanity and go out in the world prepared for work and to contribute to their community.
What do you think of political party involvement in local school board elections? Is it acceptable? Why or why not?
Political party involvement in local school board elections is unacceptable. All decisions by a school board are, by law, made to the benefit of education. Partisan considerations only deflect the work of the Board away from that highest principle. This year’s election exemplifies the danger of partisanship in the School Board elections, where the Republican Party in its zeal to put forth a slate of candidates ignored the requirements of the law and recruited a candidate who is not legally qualified to serve on the Board (https://www.redbankgreen.com/2015/09/red-bank-residency-an-issue-in-race.html ) .
Are the Red Bank primary and middle schools doing a good job educating children and preparing them for high school and beyond?
The Red Bank Primary and Middle School are doing a good and continuously improving job of educating our children and preparing them for their future in an ever more complex world.
If not, how would you try to improve outcomes?
One can never be content with where one is. We seek to continuously improve our educational process, encouraging our administration and faculty to work together to constantly improve curriculum tailored to the needs of our students and to provide our faculty with the tools and support they need to implement that curriculum through ongoing professional development.
What is your approach to fiscal issues such as budgeting, taxes and debt?
It is our responsibility to educate the children of Red Bank as largely prescribed by state law. That means providing a safe and clean environment in which an adequate number of teachers supported and directed by a sufficient number of administrators can provide that education. We agree to fair compensation for the required staff. The schools have to be maintained, cleaned, heated, and cooled. There is little wiggle room in any of these basic requirements. The budget cannot be finally voted upon by the Board until reviewed and approved by the County School Superintendent to ensure it complies with all legal and regulatory requirements.
The state is required by law (SFRA—State Funding Reform Act) to provide a certain amount of funding to local school districts adjusted for the demographic character of their student bodies. The state has consistently failed to follow the formula specified by the law and consistently shortchanged the Red Bank Borough Schools—this fiscal year by $599,000.
We have developed partnerships with community organizations to fill gaps, especially in arts education. [Recall how last year’s budget required the elimination of funds to operate the strings program and how the community and its institutions were enabled to fill the gap and restore the program: (https://www.redbankgreen.com/2015/06/red-bank-a-year-later-strings-resound.html#more-98055)].
Concerning debt: Except for major capital projects, the schools operate on a pay-as-you-go basis. There are currently bonds outstanding for the Middle School renovation undertaken several years ago which are being repaid at an interest rate favorable to the taxpayers.
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?
Are there any school operations or services you think should be reduced or eliminated?
If anything, there are services such as after school programs which need expansion. We will continue to seek partners and grants to undertake such programs. We will continue to exhort the state to meet its obligations.
Will you propose specific cuts? If so, please identify them.
What are the primary criteria you have used or would use in deciding whether to vote in favor of a tax increase?
The maintenance of the integrity of the educational process.
Governor Chris Christie has characterized the teachers’ union as the largest obstacle to school reform. Do you agree?
No. Why should we pick a fight with the people to whom we entrust our children and work so hard to fulfill that trust?
Red Bank has a publicly funded charter school. Should it?
This has been litigated in the past.
Should children of undocumented immigrants be subject to potential deportation?
This is truly a question of national policy, as they say “above the pay grade”, and not an appropriate question for a school board candidate. As a grandchild of immigrants and a Jew who is all too cognizant of the fate of my brethren left behind in Europe, I find it very difficult to take a hardline stance on immigration issues.
What specific initiatives, if any, would you attempt to implement if you are elected?
I would like to see our after school programs beefed up and to see the continuous improvement in all our programs by encouraging and providing the resources required by our outstanding professional educators.
Is there anything else you’d like voters to know?
The Red Bank Borough Schools under the direction of the current Board had built a very strong foundation for continuous growth and improvement. I want to ensure that the Board continues to build on that foundation.
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.