By Rabbi Nahum Marcus
I am seeking reelection to the Lawrence Board of Education. The reason: there is more good work that I hope to accomplish for our children, their parents, and our entire community.
As a six-year incumbent board trustee, I have worked diligently to improve the quality of education and services our district provides to all public- and private-school students.
I have always been an independent and outspoken voice on our school board, who consistently stands up and speaks out for the people who have twice elected me.
As many people may know, my wife Devorah and I have three children—a 19-year-old daughter and twin 14-year-old sons, one of whom has cerebral palsy. My son’s needs have inspired me to be a better, more effective school-board trustee.
I know firsthand the challenges and frustrations that face the parents of special-needs children. That is why I try to champion the needs of other special-needs children and their families throughout our community.
I steadfastly adhere to the mantra that it is never wrong to do the right thing for a child. This is especially true when it comes to special-needs children.
Special-needs advocacy. With my wife’s support, guidance, and tenacity, I helped revise our district’s special-education policies, enabling special-needs students in private schools to receive all of the crucial therapeutic services to which they are legally entitled.
Previously, private-school therapists, student aides, and resource-room teachers were required to adhere to the public-school calendar and schedules. As a result, special-needs students in private schools missed an excessive amount of therapeutic services due to schedule differences. Policy changes we made have corrected that needless disparity.
Working with district staff, I helped to properly equip occupational- and physical-therapy rooms in each of our public and private schools so therapists can better serve our special-needs children. I also helped ensure that each public school is now handicapped-accessible.
I also helped to improve special-needs services for children at Kulanu Torah Academy, Cahal for Children with Learning Disabilities, BOCES, and other specialized schools.
I wish to continue to be an advocate for our special-needs children and ensure the strides we made remain in place and are enhanced.
Dedicated to quality education. I believe our school board’s top priority is to ensure that all children receive the best possible education. I have served on the academic-excellence committee that seeks new ways to enhance our educational ability. I also helped ensure that private-school students receive the proper textbook allotment from our district.
I want to continue to find the most cost-efficient ways to improve the quality of education of our children. I will continue to promote professional development for our teachers and paraprofessionals to enhance their skill and effectiveness. I also will work to ensure that all students have access to extracurricular and after-school programs.
Equitable student transportation. Every child deserves fair and equitable access to public school transportation. As a board trustee, I helped many parents resolve transportation issues and I helped remedy a variety of bus-route issues so children don’t spend more time than necessary on buses.
While always keeping cost controls a priority, I would like our district to provide transportation to yeshiva students after their mandatory mishmar; to make existing bus routes more efficient; and to stop sharing buses between two or more schools with dissimilar schedules.
Fair use of school facilities. Area residents and organizations may use and rent school facilities, including building space and playing fields. I want to continue to promote affordable community access to our district’s facilities. I have worked with a variety of organizations such as Project Harmony, Cahal and Tovah concerts, NCSY Basketball, Little League, and other groups to provide access to school facilities at a fair price, not an excessive one.
Careful scrutiny of school sales. Since talks arose about selling the Number Six School, I insisted the bidding process and sale be done fairly and transparently to instill public confidence.
Many times I was the board’s lone voice of dissent, especially when it became obvious that fairness and transparency was not happening. I vocally objected to selling the property to Simone Healthcare Development because its proposal was not in the best interest of our community.
I joined forces with parents and property owners from the Community Coalition of the Five Towns to block this sale. Working together, we demonstrated to the public how unfair and unbalanced this deal was for our community.
In March, an unprecedented 4,155 voters agreed with me and with CC5T. The highest voter turnout in recent memory delivered a clear mandate to our school board: the sale of the Number Six School must benefit our entire community.
The final reason I am seeking reelection—and campaigning with Dov Herman—is to fulfill this voter mandate. We will closely monitor the bidding process and make sure this school sale is conducted with openness and transparency.
Dov Herman and I are our community’s candidates. Our first priority will always be to work in the best interest of the children, parents, taxpayers, and all residents of this community. And we pledge to work in a cooperative, constructive, and respectful manner with our fellow school-board trustees. Our only agenda is to serve our entire community with integrity, honesty, and compassion. v