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Watch Group to Keep Close Eye on BOE

A group was formed in the community to investigate what the board of education does to improve the district.

With more than 50 members ranging from retired educators, parents and grandparents all from around the community, B-R Ed Watch is preparing to keep a close eye on the moves of the board of education.

The organization was created over the past year by residents who have expressed concerns about the educational quality of the Bridgewater-Raritan Regional School District, including such issues as class size, the need to expand preschool education to the west side of town and providing more educational opportunities for students to help them compete in the world.

“This is to provide a grassroots watchdog coalition for the constant improvement and expansion of educational programs for all our students,” said Laura Spector, spokeswoman for the organization. “As the community changes in its demographic base, we need a board of education that understands these needs and provides for greater student outcomes.”

The organization, according to Spector and members of the group who chose to remain anonymous, is looking for any community residents with similar concerns to join the movement itself.

Spector said the goal of the group is to create an educational coalition that oversees the work of the board of education, and investigates what they do to ensure that the educational product developed in the district is still a high point in the township.

“We see that over the last decade, we have lost ground to other school districts in the areas of class size, program offerings and test scores,” she said.

For the future of the organization, Spector said, they are focusing on reviewing the positions of the current board of education members, particularly before and after the upcoming elections.

“We are very concerned of possible political interference as this year’s candidate election occurs on general election day, a historic first,” she said.

What do you think of this new organization? Will it be helpful to have a watchful eye on the board of education?

Nancy October 05, 2012 at 12:52 PM
OMG! We don't need any self appointed, non elected watchdogs to "oversee" the actions of the BOE. Especially when they want to stay anonymous! Anyone who doesn't have the guts or inclination to put their names out there by openly criticizing the job the BOE is doing ... or for that matter getting off their butts and running for the BOE themselves ... should just stay in the shadows. I have no problem with groups forming to encourage the Board to move one way or another, but to say that they are going to "oversee" the BOE is preposterous! We need community members to work together. This group sets themselves up to work against the BOE through constant scrutinizing. If you are so concerned then get candidates elected to the board ... that is how the system works.
Roberto October 05, 2012 at 01:04 PM
Thank The Lord Above! Seriously, the Board is the Absolute Worst in decades. Self Serving individuals that care only about their own children, their own property, and nothing about teachers and the other children in the district. They should each and every one of them be ashamed of their actions....and lack thereof.
Linda Ryan October 05, 2012 at 01:23 PM
Well said Nancy! Seems very antagonistic to have "oversee-ers." Can't IMAGINE that this will improve things and as far as the anonymity...what's up with that?
BwaterDad October 05, 2012 at 01:40 PM
Yes, as the old saying goes, Who Watches the Watchers?
Jeffrey Brookner October 05, 2012 at 01:55 PM
Roberto, Hearing you say that the BOE is the "absolute worst in decades" is fine -- you are entitled to your opinion. But it troubles me to hear that you think the members of the BOE are in it for our own personal gain. I hope you will take the time to call me (my work number is 908.595.2200) to discuss why you have this opinion and what I can do differently to serve the community better. I can't promise that I will agree with you, but I am more than willing to listen and carefully consider your opinions. Thanks! Jeffrey Brookner Member, B-R BOE Please note that anything I say in this forum is my own personal opinion. I do not have authority to speak for the Board of Education.
BR Parent October 05, 2012 at 04:46 PM
The public should question the motives of a "watchdog coalition" whose members want to remain anonymous. Maybe those 50 members should go to meetings regularly and speak out publicly on issues that concern them. I am a parent and that is what I have done. There certainly are things that the BOE can improve upon! However, its cowardly to remain anonymous, raises suspicion about your motives and diminshes your credibilty as a "coalition" By the way, its not a conflict of interest, if some of this new coalition includes members that happen ot also work in the district.
Mr. Had Enough October 06, 2012 at 02:43 AM
I think this story says a lot. The fact that 50 people in this community have banned together to for a coalition indicates that people are concerned with the current state of Bridgewater's education system and in my opinion, there are likely more. I also believe that the anonymity may indicate that while they are concerned and want to see change, they may be fearful of repercussions that can potential arise as an unintended consequence. At the same time, without understanding who this coalition is comprised of and their qualifications to make recommendations, I would find it very difficult to see recommendations and concerns as credible unless I know the person is qualified to make these assumptions. I agree that with all that has transpired around the district in recent years, it is in my opinion probably time for current members to step down providing an opportunity for new members to come in with a fresh perspective. Some of the administrators in the district probably need to be evaluated for job performance and replacement because there is a perceived disconnect between what goes on in the classrooms and the perceived lack of tone from the top.
BwaterDad October 06, 2012 at 02:36 PM
I do not see 50 members here, nor do I see an organization at all. I see one person making vague statements to a reporter. The board of ed has meetings twice a month where a person can stand up at the podium and make a statement and ask questions. This sometimes turns into a dialogue with the board members. That would seem to be a more productive way of addressing issues than whatever this "new group" really is.
Taylor October 06, 2012 at 03:31 PM
I agree that this looks like people want to see change. This is something that could become a positive force and I for one will be watching to see how this group works moving forward.
Liz Lande October 06, 2012 at 07:01 PM
Having actively "watched the board of ed" on my own for many years now, I know how frustrating it can be. Sometimes the best option is to voice your opinion at the podium at the twice-monthly BOE meetings. I ruffle feathers, but I speak my mind. It takes courage and is not without risk. (How many of you are using your real name here?). But if you take the time to be informed, then don't be afraid. Or e-mail the BOE, the B-REA or the Superintendent's office privately. While they may not respond, I know they read their e-mail! You can also volunteer within the BRRSD community. Here are two other options: vote or RUN for the BOE. It's hard but you learn lots of people agree with you. I have been criticizing the Student-Teacher ratio in the district publicly for YEARS without any hope of changes. In the end it comes down to the budget. Class size is as much an issue of the negotiations between the district and the B-REA as anything else. When we moved here the district was known for it's high standards and low taxes. Not anymore, but it will take much more than a small society to change that. It is a state... or even a national issue. Pick up a newspaper and you'll see that. Until then, I hope to hear your members individual opinions at upcoming meetings.
Metoo October 07, 2012 at 03:22 PM
"Class size is as much an issue of the negotiations between the district and the B-REA as anything else." - That's incorrect...
Bridgewater Parent October 08, 2012 at 02:36 PM
Roberto, How many BOE meetings have you attended? Can you name 1 specific instance where the BOE members acted in a self serving way? How are they the worst in decades? It's very easy to make a statement like that, but can you back it up with facts to support your point of view? I hope you take Mr. Brookner up on his offer and give him a call to discuss your opinions. Perhaps if you got to know these people and attend a few meeting to become well informed your opinion might change. If you have a question or opinion on a specific issue, e-mail the BOE and ask it. I have done this on several occasions and have always gotten a response. These people all work very hard (for FREE - elected BOE members are not paid) and give up a considerable amount of their free time to serve the community. Get involved and become more informed before being so critical of them.
Bridgewater Parent October 14, 2012 at 01:07 AM
Interesting how I ask Roberto for specific instances to back up his claims and get no response. But yet "We all pay taxes" fires back with some more untrue accusations and an assumption that I am someone that I am not. "Bridgewater Parent" is not Evan Lerner, I'm not even sure why you would make that assumption. Why don't you share with the public the "proof" that you apparently have that anyone is doing anything wrong. I too am a taxpayer and would like to hear specific instances of what these people are doing that is so wrong. Attend the BOE meetings and you can actually hear what they do.

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