This year’s race for the Harborfields school board will be a contest.
With three openings, five people — including two incumbents — are hoping to snag a seat on the board come May 19.
Candidates Chris Kelly, Colleen Rappa, and Suzie Lustig are vying for one of the two seats. Incumbents Donald Mastroianni and board President Dr. Thomas McDonaugh are seeking re-election. Maggie Boba, a former school board member, resigned last year, leaving a vacant seat on the board.
Each term is for three years.
The father of three has lived in the area his entire life and has decided to make a run for one of the empty seats.
“I’m basically running because I want to help maximize Harborfields students’ entire experience, start to finish,” Kelly said. “I want to make sure we provide all the support parents and teachers need.”
If elected, Kelly said one of his biggest goals is to bring full-day kindergarten to the district, feeling that the district is in desperate need of a full-day program.
“I want to create the best education our children can get while being fiscally responsible,” Kelly said.
The 18-year resident and mother of five sons decided to run for the board after observing what has been going on in education. She said she feels people are buying into the commercialization of education, and they don’t understand the real issues at heart. She also feels local control of education has been taken away from districts.
“People drink the Kool-Aid and think one size fits all,” Rappa said. “I want to change the way people think about education.”
The former attorney said she has an understanding of educational law and would bring that to the table if elected. She would also like to restore vocational programs and add classes relating to media to help students prepare for the future.
“I can connect the dots and I understand the stakeholders and I can come up with the methodology needed,” she said.
Mastroianni, a nine-year incumbent is seeking a fourth term in an effort to finish many of the things started while serving the community.
“I’m not running on any specific agenda,” Mastroianni said. “I believe in volunteerism.”
The father of three said he would like to finish what he started. He said he would like to see the issue of full-day kindergarten through and wants to help with the capital improvement bond referendum the community will be voting on in the fall, which, if approved, would allow the district to make
capital improvements and upgrades. He wants to continue to work on getting the full Gap Elimination Adjustment money — school aid money taken by the state in order to fill the state’s revenue gap — restored for the district.
“I’m very proud to be a member of this community,” Mastroianni said.
Dr. Thomas McDonagh
McDonagh is finishing up his second term and is currently the board’s president. The father of four announced he would be seeking re-election, as there are ongoing projects he’d like to see through.
“The board has done a good job at providing the educational experience that the district children deserve while recognizing the financial constraints,” McDonagh said.
Two projects McDonagh would like to continue to work on is the capital improvement bond referendum project and the full-day kindergarten evaluation study that the district will start working on next school year.
If re-elected, McDonagh said he would like to continue to find ways to enhance the experience of the children in the district.
A mother of three and 22-year district resident has decided to make a run for the board after many years volunteering within the community.
“I’ve seen the highs and struggles with the district over the last 15 years and I want to make sure our district stays as strong as possible,” Lustig said on why she is running.
If elected, Lustig said she would like to create a three- to five-year plan that will help the district stay on task if there are funding cuts in the future. She would also like to create an education committee to share ideas on curriculum, events and more and analyze what is going on in the district and community. She said she would also research ways to bring the district more revenue.