[Live Stream] Collingswood Board of Education Candidate Forum 2020

We truly appreciate the candidates taking the time to speak with the community, answering their questions before the election. The incoming board members will have quite a few challenges ahead including onboarding a new superintendent, the path to post-pandemic return to school planning, being champions for equity for the district’s students, and improving communication with the community.

Watch The Recorded Session Here:

Collingswood Board of Education candidates Kevin Carey, Roger Chu, Matthew Craig, and Fiona Henry answered questions in a panel discussion format on a live Zoom meeting on Tuesday, September 15, 2020.

Some of the questions and topics from this session included:

New Superintendent: As a new Board Member, you will be tasked with looking for a new superintendent. What qualities and qualifications do you feel makes a good fit for the Collingswood School District?

Special Education: Like most NJ school districts, Collingswood schools operate with a segregated model for students with a disability. How would you promote meaningful inclusion in our district? By meaningful, I am not talking about PE and Art being counted as the only inclusion piece. I mean learning side by side with their peers in the general education classroom.

Sports Facilities: The bond referendum did not pass and our district is utilizing the capital budget to do ongoing repairs and maintenance on the 10 acres of facilities at the Middle/ High School campus. How would you as a board member advocate for the physical wellness of our students and the opportunities that scholastic sports afford our young people? 

Do you have an opinion on reopening the pool? (Question from Social Media)

Digital Citizenship: There have been some troubling social media activity seen from the Middle School and High School for the last couple of years. How do you think that we, as a community and you as a board member could advocate for our students through all grade levels to reduce the likelihood of our young people would engage in dangerous and troubling behavior when online? 

Charter Schools: What is your position on charter schools? If an organization applied to open a charter school in Collingswood, would you be willing to support the application?

District Communication: Communication and outreach to the community are one of the pillars of advocacy for The CEAG. What insights as a community member would you take with you as a board member to advocate for this important issue? 

As a follow-up to the communications discussion – how do you think the district does with communicating with the community members that do not currently have children in the district? Do you feel this is important and if so what strategies would you advocate for?

Amistad Commission: As a follow-up to the Amistad question, would they support a change to the curriculum to comply with NJ law?. What do they foresee as challenges in instituting this curriculum? How long would or should this take? I would like to hear from all the candidates. More about NJ’s Amistad Commission here: http://www.njamistadcurriculum.net/about

Remote Learning: Has the COVID-19 remote learning and district communications changed or enforced what you believe is the necessary connection between home and school? What do you think that ongoing relationship will look like as schools progress into hybrid and “the new normal”?

Work/ Life Balance: The more time, effort, and training that you put in, the more impact that you will have on the board and for our students. How does each of you plan to juggle all of your responsibilities and have the time necessary to put in for the board?

Inclusion and Diversity: We are hearing a lot of talk regarding equity, but what specifically would you do and how would you measure that success? 

Grade Level Schools: Where do you stand on the existing neighborhood school model? Would you continue to have neighborhood schools for K-5? Would you consider grade-level schools or another model?

Homeschooled Students: The Board of Education adopted a pilot program in 2018  that allows homeschooled students in grades 6 through 8 to participate in athletic activities. What is your position on the inclusion of homeschooled students in our school district, and do you support an expansion of the pilot program to include other grade levels and extracurricular activities?

Jen R

Jen R

Jen Rossi, Vice President Jen Rossi moved to Collingswood with her spouse in 2012. She is a graduate of Georgian Court University with a Bachelor's Degree in Education and Fine Art. She has a certificate of eligibility with advanced standing in Elementary Education (K-5) and as a Teacher of Fine Art (K-12). After a part-time floating position and substitute teaching, Jen returned to the corporate world. Professionally Jen is a Digital Marketing Manager for a privately owned insurance brokerage, providing important information on how to reduce the risks in today's business world: ranging from slip and fall injuries to computer network hacks. Getting the information in the hands of people who need it with the help of guidebooks, webinars, instructional videos, blog posts, social media alerts, and online courses. With this background in education and knowledge of the process for communicating important information to anyone willing to hear it, Jen focuses her energy on making a big impact with small things- making life a little more convenient, helping people get informed, keeping things practical and timely, and encouraging achievable goals for success. In her free time, Jen loves upcycling, improving, and otherwise repurposing materials to the delight of family, neighbors, and Etsy customers. She looks forward to running down questions and getting helpful information into social feeds and inboxes of members of the Collingswood community.