John A. Sangiovanni III — 2022 Montgomery Township School Board Candidate
Posted September 7, 2022
Two incumbents and eight new candidates will be competing for the three seats on the Montgomery Township Board of Education in the upcoming November 8 election.
New candidates Mohammed Fahd Ansari of Belle Mead; Michelle Dowling of Skillman; Danish Mirza of Belle Mead; Joanna Filak of Skillman; Ania Wolecka-Jernigan of Belle Mead; Douglas Herring of Skillman; Craig Rothenberg of Belle Mead; and John A. Sangiovanni, III of Skillman, along with incumbents Phyllis Bursh of Belle Mead and Richard Specht of Belle Mead, each filed to run for three-year terms with the Somerset County Clerk’s Office.
John A. Sangiovanni III, Skillman
Senior Estimator for a large central New Jersey civil / utility contractor in Linden.
Dara Zimmer, Art Teacher at Montgomery Upper Middle School.
Summer, 15 and Marina, 13.
What do you consider to be the three most important challenges facing the Montgomery school district at this time? Briefly how would you address these issues?
The three most important challenges that are facing the Montgomery School District at this time are: Chapter 32 Curriculum Concerns; Population Growth = larger Classes; and Keeping Talented and Experienced Teachers.
In regards to Chapter 32, its implementation should be delayed by 60 days. The current administration only disclosed the Phys Ed/Health curriculum two weeks before school started. The 60 days would allow parents to review and comment on this debatable issue.
Based on all the new construction on the Route 206 corridor and other areas in town, it is obvious that in the next two years will have increased our student population in the town. Classes have gotten larger in the last few years and are quickly getting larger. Now is the time to prepare the expansion of schools and staff to meet these future needs.
The country is suffering a massive teacher shortage and loss of staff. Teachers are seeking to exit the field early as well. I would explore why that is and how we can prevent large losses in the future.
What professional and personal experiences have prepared you for serving on the board?
My professional experience in the construction management industry has allowed me to gain valuable knowledge in building and civil construction, public bidding practices, and accounting practices related to the construction industry. My professional experience also includes employee staffing and retention of qualified individuals who meet our current and future needs. Personal experience for the board position would entail raising of two girls. In the past nine years I have been a major part of their education experience, communicating on a regular basis with their educators and being aware of friendships, relationships that my children have with others within the district and having a open commutation line with them, which allows me to hear about their issues with exposure to drugs, alcohol and tobacco I have lived in this district since 2013. Seeing the changes in the population density in that short amount of time has made me aware of the issues we are facing currently.
Why are you running for the Board?
I am running for the board due to the recent issue of the Chapter 32 curriculum. Chapter 32 was made into law in March of 2021. This topic has been on the table for nearly 18 months. Parents were not given an ample amount of time to view the proposed curriculum. The board has dragged its feet on this. Board members did not provide a comprehensive and written draft curriculum in time for the start of the school. This needs to be put on hold or delayed till parents can get a full understanding and be unable to choose what is best for their child
The success of Montgomery Schools impacts everyone in Montgomery and Rocky Hill, whether they have student enrolled in the district, have a home whose values are impacted, or both. What role should a community play in forming policy and monitoring the school district? Is the school structure adequate? If not, what do you propose to improve transparency and community involvement?
The community has always been involved in the school system because that’s either why they moved here or a reason why they stayed. To continue with their involvement I would propose that the board meets and greets with the parents multiple times a year so that they gain a better perspective on their issue in a different setting.
Where do you stand on the new Health Curriculum Standards?
My position on Chapter 32 is a one size does not fit all. Parents raise their children and gauge when appropriate subject matter is discussed. Some parents may choose to have these conversations earlier and some later in their children’s lives. Ultimately, it’s the parents choice when it is to be presented and not the state of New Jersey or the Montgomery School District.
Chapter 32 is a brief and loosely-written mandate. The broad nature of chapter 32 allows the board and the administration to develop a curriculum that is based in the communities.
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