Earlier this year, I was invited by Montgomery Township School Board President Minkyo Chenette to start meeting on a monthly basis in order to brainstorm on ways we could work together to serve our shared constituencies.
School Board president Minkyo Chenette and Montgomery Township Mayor Sadaf Jaffer
I was more than happy to participate in these conversations, especially as Montgomery is known for being a family-oriented town and for many of our residents the schools are the heart of the community. I must note here that this sort of cooperation has not been the norm in Montgomery, and I applaud President Chenette and Acting Superintendent Mary McLoughlin for their vision and leadership.
I would like to share some of the initiatives we have been working on in the course of these meetings.
First, we have been discussing ways in which we could share services and thus lower costs for both the schools and the municipality. We believe that these discussions of shared services have the potential to lower the tax burden on residents.
We have also been discussing ways that our health department could support the health of students. It is our plan to conduct a comprehensive needs assessment for students in coordination with the municipal alliance and the school system within the next year. Neighboring municipalities have learned valuable information through such assessments.
Finally, we all share a passion for early childhood education. One of the offerings missing from our otherwise stellar public school system is a full day kindergarten program. Studies show that access to full day kindergarten is related to greater long-term achievement for students. This issue has been identified for decades and yet was not addressed by previous administrations and board leadership.
On behalf of myself and Deputy Mayor Catherine Gural, we are are supportive of Montgomery Township School District’s efforts to offer full day kindergarten.
In closing, cooperation and coordination are an important part of governance and community leadership. With the initiatives we started in 2019, I believe the township and schools are well on our way to building a more efficient, better served, healthier, and happier community. ■