The Verona Board of Education held a special meeting last night to interview seven candidates seeking to complete the unexpired term of Dawn DuBois.
Each of the candidates–Ellen Conover, Dominic Ferry, Donald Flood, Anthony Gaeta, Anthony Gardner, George Sidrak and Steve Spardel–was given up to 15 minutes to speak. They were asked to introduce themselves, talk about why they are seeking to join the BOE and their three priorities for the Board. Some are relative newcomers to Verona, others are long-term residents. All have, or have had, children in Verona public schools, which was repeatedly cited as motivation to come on the Board.
The video of that meeting is below. You can watch the entire presentation (it runs about an hour) in full below or zoom in on each of the candidates as indicated by the time stamps. BOE President John Quattrocchi indicated that the Board would put up a resolution on its choice soon. Two other Board members will be chosen in the November 5 election:
Anthony Gardner (03:01): Executive director of New Jersey State Museum, new member of Verona Public Library Board of Trustees. Raised more than $8 million for non-profits. Three children in Verona schools. Served on Buildings & Grounds and Tech action committees for BOE’s strategic plan. Said it is critical that Verona upgrades schools’ technology infrastructure, invest in facilities. Wants to enhance school security.
Ellen Conover (12:31): Long-time resident of Verona. A baker who helped develop a chocolate chip cookie to help one of her children gain weight for the military. One child in Verona schools now, one graduate. Stressed a need for diversity among BOE members and greater attention to spending wisely.
Anthony Gaeta (14:57): Attorney with experience in litigation. One child in school, one “who can’t wait to be there”. Says improved communication with community is critical to achieving goals like full-day kindergarten. Agrees with need to secure additional sources of funding for public schools but concerned that advertisers may influence education. Wants greater focus on how technology is applied to curriculum.
Dominic Ferry (24:37): Twelve-year resident with children in HBW and Laning. Public works employee in Nutley, has gotten more than $2.7 million in grants for that town. Priority on academics, but stressed need to maintain choices for students interested in the trades, arts, and athletics. Wants to make Verona more attractive for teachers .
Steve Spardel (31:22): Resident since 1998, served 7 1/2 years on BOE in the past. Two children graduated from VHS, 1 enrolled now. Involved with previous $34 million referendum, first strategic plan. Stressed need for close relationship with superintendent. Favors spending on curriculum and facilities, not full-day kindergarten or security.
Donald Flood (39:34): Mechanical, environmental engineer. One VHS graduate, one child in VHS now. Experience in bid proposals, construction, business development, student internships. Held finance positions with multiple volunteer organizations. Wants to expand curriculum in science, tech, engineering, math, as well as shared services with town .
George Sidrak (49:00): Medical doctor, emigrated from Egypt for religious freedom. Chose to live in Verona for academic excellence. Children in HBW and Laning. Teaches health and nursing courses at community colleges and trade schools. Wants to invest more in children’s mental and physical health, as well as school security.