Meet the Candidates — Week 3

Every week, The Sun will ask candidates in the April 21 election for Board of Education to respond to questions pertinent to local issues. Here, you can find the responses, in full, from each candidate each week. To view past responses, click on the “Schools” tab, or search “Meet the Candidates.”

Question for April 8:

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Make your final pitch. Why should you be elected to the Board of Education?

Dimitri Schneiberg

I should be elected if the citizens of Moorestown feel that I am the best candidate to represent their values and accomplish their goals for our schools.

If elected, I will chart a path for success and progress guided by the following key principles:

Great schools

Simply put, many of us moved here largely because of the quality of the schools. Many of those that grew up in Moorestown came back after going away to college because they want to raise their children with the same quality of education that they received.

I promise that I will work very hard to preserve and enhance the great schools of this town.

Preserving their reputation and the opportunities that they provide our children are the greatest responsibility of the school board, and I promise to carry on the tradition of excellence.

Sounding board for citizens

As a school board member, I would be an advocate and a voice for the citizens of this town.

I will always listen to the concerns, comments and ideas of the parents, and do my best to be a strong sounding board, and to make sure that those thoughts are carefully considered and addressed.

Our citizens are our greatest asset, as evidenced by the efforts and successes the Home and School Association, and hold the key to some of the best ideas for improving our schools. I promise to listen to those ideas and bring them to light.

Challenge the status quo

As good as our schools are, they can get better. Whether it is increasing our children’s performance on tests, providing more opportunities for a well-rounded education or supporting those with special needs, there are ample opportunities for improvement.

I promise to respectfully challenge the status quo and not accept mediocrity born from precedent.

I will challenge convention where I see an opportunity for change for the better.

Use technology to increase the effectiveness of learning

Given my background in technology and education, I’m in a unique position to recommend and implement real changes in the way learning takes place.

Most of the advancements in education over the past 10 years have been due to the effective usage of technology in academic field, and studies show that 10 years from now, technology will revolutionize public education.

I can help Moorestown be at the forefront of technology adoption and do so while taking advantage of grants available through software and hardware companies that will drive innovation without taxing our citizens.

Financial discipline

Over the next few years, the school district will be facing tough choices brought about by the economy and less public funding. Choices will need to be made to cut costs and create efficiencies, coupled with the creativity to pull together additional sources of revenue. I have the most experience and the best background to do both successfully.

Ensure accountability throughout the district

The school board is responsible for making sure that the administration and teachers are accountable to the standards and expectations of the community. Specifically, we need to reward excellence and improve performance where possible.

We need to challenge our administration and teachers to do even better and reward them when they meet those challenges.

I will work to ensure that the school board, administrators, teachers, students and parents, take ownership and shared responsibility in the overall success of our district.

In conclusion, if elected, I will work to make sure that our schools set an example for achievement, accountability and fiscal responsibility for years to come.

Cyndy Pappaterra

It has been a privilege to run for the school board. I have been married for 22 years to my best friend, Steve. As a resident of Moorestown for 12 years, I have had three children in five of the district’s schools during the past 10 years. One daughter is still in Roberts and the other daughter attends the middle school.

There are several priorities that I am passionate about: fiscal discipline, anti-bullying, substance abuse and global awareness. All involve accountability. Certainly, accountability seems to be the watchword in our society, from executive compensation to elected officials to our schools and its constituencies. I believe there must be rigorous accountability for how we spend taxpayers’ money, strict consequences for those who prey upon students who find themselves on the margins of social networks, rigorous enforcement of anti-drug and alcohol policies, and a sense that we, as members of a community have a responsibility to our environment. Accountability has been a hallmark of how I have lived my life, imperfect as it has been. I served for 10 years as chairperson for the Child Placement Review Board of Burlington County. As a judicial liaison, I outlined plans for family reunification of foster children. In this situation, each party involved was held accountable.

After graduating from Temple, I worked as a social worker for Catholic Social Services. (If there were ever a job necessitating personal fiscal discipline, this was it.) I worked for $12,000 a year, while maintaining my own apartment and car. When my husband’s ancient Volvo died, we survived in Moorestown with one car and a bike for three years.

Like many, I was troubled by the lack of accountability after the senior pranks last year. Students were excused from cleaning up the mess they created, with janitorial staff and teachers left to do the work. Students joined together on Facebook to congratulate themselves. Even parental response to this behavior was, in some cases, lackluster and exculpatory. This may be an isolated case, but one we can learn from. I have used the phrase “shining light on the shadows” to describe bringing uncomfortable situations into the open. Nowhere is this more evident than in addressing substance use. In fact, student “use” is, by definition, “abuse” because it is illegal and harmful. I have been a part of various initiatives, and we have made a start in addressing this issue with seriousness. Still, much more needs to be done, both at our schools and throughout Moorestown homes.

Lastly, global awareness is starting to sound like a global cliché, but it has real application in our schools. For example, when selecting classes, perhaps students could also select involvement in “giving back.” Not only is it imperative that we understand how we relate to the world, but we also need to look at the big picture on a district level. Moreover, as parents, we need to look at the services needed for all students, not just the services for our own children. Decisions at the district level may not please everyone, but they should be made with a view toward how all are impacted. Perhaps this is where creativity and fiscal responsibility needs to come together.

If elected to the board, I will bring my personal and professional experiences, as well as my values and convictions, and use them to the best of my ability. I also am pleased to see other new and qualified candidates on the ballot. I believe this election is an opportunity for new perspectives, and I remain committed to and hopeful for Moorestown’s future.

David Weinstein

I have the skills, the energy, the determination and most importantly, the experience to find cost effective ways to keep the quality of education in Moorestown at the high level we should expect.

I have been an active member of our community, assisting our township in finding ways to more efficiently operate. As the chairman of the Budget Efficiency Task Force, I was charged with finding ways to more efficiently operate our township. I proposed a number of cost-savings measures, including insurance cost savings measures, which was implemented by the township, resulting in hundreds of thousands of dollars in savings.

As a practicing public finance attorney, I bring a unique perspective to not only financing the costs of our schools, but also the available revenue sources and cost-savings measures used by other school districts and available to our district to keep our schools operating efficiently.

In these current economic times, it is important that we realize that the quality of education our school district provides cannot be compromised. The value of the education our schools provide is not only found in the high test scores, the college placement of our students or the awards our schools and students receive, it is also found in the strength of our community, the value of our homes and the quality of life for our residents. With this comes my understanding that maintaining a quality educational system in Moorestown benefits everyone in Moorestown, not just our students.

At the same time, I understand that we need to be fiscally responsible and make wise decisions on how available funds are spent by our schools. Every decision, whether it is regarding the implementation of a new educational program, the changing of a light bulb or the installation of solar panels on our schools, has to be properly vetted. In order to make these decisions wisely, we must look at the short- and long-terms costs, while being mindful of the need to maintain the excellent educational system that both my wife and I received, and expect from the Moorestown Public Schools for our children.

I understand that my job on the Board of Education will be to provide a safe and effective environment in which our teachers can perform. My job will not be to educate students but to provide the tools and environment that will enable not only our teachers to provide our students with the best education a school district can provide, but to provide our students with the best educational experience available.

Moorestown’s students are our ambassadors to the world. As a community, we need to provide our students with every reasonable opportunity to convey to the world the excellence of our town. The best way I know to assure this is to make sure our children are well educated.

As a resident of Moorestown for more than 25 years and as a proud 1989 graduate of Moorestown High School, I know the quality of our educational system in Moorestown is, and with your vote, will continue to be exceptional.

Please remember to vote on April 21.

William Van Fossen

I have great respect for this community and our school system, and it is the primary reason that my wife and I chose to raise our family in Moorestown.

We have three children, two currently in our schools and one recent graduate of Moorestown. Their various school activities and my time spent on the Board of Education have given me a good understanding of our school system. I am very pleased with the education that is being provided and the commitment to excellence that I have seen from the staff.

While we may not think of it as such, running our school system is very much like running a large business. I am confident that my experience in running a business and my proven track record of service to the Moorestown community will continue to be of benefit to our Board of Education.

The position of school board member is about asking questions, getting good information and making informed decisions, sometimes very difficult decisions. My experience and training as a Board of Education member will prove beneficial as we face the challenges ahead of us.

Every board member will face tough decisions regarding the budget. With shrinking state aid and increased demands from both the state and federal governments for programs, the Moorestown taxpayer wants to know that their tax dollars are being used wisely.

As a school board member, I will continue to do everything in my power to see that we balance quality education with fiscal responsibility.

One of the most important things that I have learned over my 25 years in business and my three years as a board member is that communication is vital to any organization, and the school system is no exception.

I will continue to make communication between all of the school system stakeholders a high priority.

The coming years will present many challenges for our school system, and I feel that I am well prepared and capable of handling these challenges. I ask all of you for your support when you enter the voting booth on April 21. Thank you.

Linda Alexandroff

A school district’s primary focus should always be on the students. Whenever I make a decision at the board level, my first and last thought is always “Is this the right decision for the students?”

Moorestown is a wonderful district. We have students who are motivated and parents who are involved. Our administration promotes strong values, the teachers and support staff are professional, skilled and dedicated, and we live in a township whose residents support the schools with time, talent and treasure.

Our students achieve at the highest levels in all grades, and if they desire, upon graduation, attend the college of their choice.

Our cost to educate a student at this high level is in fact 5.3 percent lower than the state average. However, I believe we can do better. Moorestown needs to stay on the cutting edge of instruction while examining alternate ways to exceed educational expectations with fiscal responsibility.

As our district confronts the many challenges of the present and the future, we need to look beyond the normal confines of education and aggressively think “outside the box.” Factors driving the school budget include salaries, benefits, federal and state mandates, rising operational costs and community expectations. We are at a crossroad where we need to lower our costs to educate but at the same time increase opportunities for our students. The world is rapidly changing, and education needs to keep pace with the global economy.

I believe we need to continue explorations of cost savings opportunities with other districts.

It is also vital to look at consolidations of in-house and contracted services, insist on regular reviews of programs, courses and staffing, and develop strong partnerships with local businesses, the township and community organizations. Opportunities are also available through grants, sponsorships and initiatives from the state and federal government. Moorestown needs to be on the forefront to aggressively pursue all opportunities long before they become commonplace.

During my tenure on the Board of Education, I have been an outspoken and independent member who challenges common perceptions and practices.

I am committed to providing all students with an education that assists them in discovering their unique gifts and talents in an environment reflective of the best educational and technical practices available.

Students need the opportunity to reach beyond themselves instead of confronting prerequisites they cannot overcome.

The use of technology can enhance a student’s ability especially if they have the aptitude and desire to achieve. I believe all children, if given the opportunity, can truly be remarkable.

As an elected official, I have gained invaluable insights and experiences in the operation of a dynamic and highly successful school district.

I am an active and involved member currently serving as chair of the Operations and Facilities Committee, a member of the Curriculum Committee and Board representative to SpEAC (Special Education Advocacy Council). I frequently attend Home & School meetings in our six schools on behalf of the school board to provide parents with information about district events and listen to their concerns.

My family has lived in Moorestown since 1987. Our three children have all graduated from the district, the most recent in 2008.

It has been through my children that I have experienced the many levels of education available to students, from special needs to advanced placement. I believe I can continue to provide invaluable insights to the Board of Education and to the community with the knowledge and experiences acquired through my personal experiences and tenure on the board.

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