David Fischer

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David Fischer
David Fischer SBE.jpg
Former candidate for
Board member, Brick Township Board of Education, At-large
Elections and appointments
Last electionNovember 4, 2014
Term limitsN/A
Education
Bachelor'sMontclair State University
Personal
ProfessionSales/substitute teacher
David Fischer was a candidate for an at-large seat on the Brick Township Board of Education in New Jersey. He lost in the general election on November 4, 2014.

Fisher previously ran unsuccessfully for election to the board in 2011, 2012 and 2013.

Biography

Fisher is self-employed in sales in addition to working as a substitute teacher in the Freehold Regional High School District. He earned a B.A. in history from Montclair State University, where he is currently pursuing an M.A. in history.[1][2]

Elections

2014

See also: Brick Township Public Schools elections (2014)

Opposition

Two seats on the Brick Township Board of Education were up for election on November 4, 2014. At-large incumbents Sharon Cantillo and Lawrence K. Reid ran for re-election as a slate. Returning candidates John Barton and David Fischer challenged them in the general election.[3]

Results

Brick Township Public Schools, At-large General Election, 3-year term, 2014
Party Candidate Vote % Votes
     Nonpartisan Green check mark transparent.pngSharon Cantillo 35.1% 7,028
     Nonpartisan Green check mark transparent.pngJohn Barton 23.2% 4,640
     Nonpartisan David Fischer 22.4% 4,489
     Nonpartisan Lawrence K. Reid 19% 3,798
     Nonpartisan Write-in votes 0.4% 87
Total Votes 20,042
Source: Ocean County Clerk, "General Election Unofficial Results," accessed November 5, 2014 These results are unofficial and will be updated when certified results are available.

Funding

Fischer reported no contributions or expenditures to the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission as of October 13, 2014.[4]

Endorsements

Fischer did not receive any official endorsements.

2013

See also: Brick Township Public Schools elections (2013)

Opposition

Fischer ran for election against Karyn Cusanelli, John Barton and John Talty on November 5, 2013.

Results

Brick Township Public Schools, At-large General Election, 3-year term, 2013
Party Candidate Vote % Votes
     Nonpartisan Green check mark transparent.pngKaryn Cusanelli Incumbent 32% 7,566
     Nonpartisan Green check mark transparent.pngJohn Talty Incumbent 24.6% 5,813
     Nonpartisan David Fischer 21.5% 5,078
     Nonpartisan John Barton 21.5% 5,076
     Nonpartisan Write-in votes 0.3% 76
Total Votes 23,609
Source: Ocean County Clerk, "Official Results," November 14, 2013

Funding

Fischer reported no contributions or expenditures to the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission.[5]

2012

Brick Township Public Schools, At-large General Election, 3-year terms, 2012
Party Candidate Vote % Votes
     Nonpartisan Green check mark transparent.pngSusan J. Suter 16.5% 8,464
     Nonpartisan Green check mark transparent.pngFrank Pannucci, Jr. 17.5% 8,970
     Nonpartisan Green check mark transparent.pngMichael R. Conti 14.3% 7,306
     Nonpartisan Lois Turner 11.5% 5,896
     Nonpartisan Richard Lau 11.5% 5,893
     Nonpartisan David Fischer 10.7% 5,464
     Nonpartisan Walter F. Campbell 10.5% 5,372
     Nonpartisan Victor Fanelli 7.6% 3,880
Total Votes 51,245
Source: Asbury Park Press, "School board election results," November 7, 2012 These results are unofficial.

2011

Brick Township Public Schools, At-large General Election, 3-year terms, 2011
Party Candidate Vote % Votes
     Nonpartisan Green check mark transparent.pngSharon Kight 22.4% 6,410
     Nonpartisan Green check mark transparent.pngLawrence K. Reid 18.1% 5,177
     Nonpartisan Vicky Leone 15.5% 4,434
     Nonpartisan Konstantine Goulas 13.1% 3,752
     Nonpartisan Robert Merola 13.1% 3,750
     Nonpartisan John Barton 8.9% 2,540
     Nonpartisan David Fischer 8.5% 2,430
     Nonpartisan Write-in votes 0.5% 149
Total Votes 28,642
Source: Ocean County Clerk, "2011 School Election County of Ocean Official Results," accessed September 8, 2014

Campaign themes

2012

Fischer provided the following answers to questions from Brick Patch:

Question 1: The issue of school district facilities is frequently on the minds on Brick residents. Please describe your specific priorities in terms of where tax dollars and capital funding should be directed for facilities projects. Do you favor looking into the possibility of holding a referendum for a future capital outlay?

I am very familiar with what needs to be done to repair the infrastructure of our schools. I was an active member of the ad-hoc Facilities Committee that was tasked in 2011-2012 by the Board of Education to determine the repairs, renovations and additions required for our schools to be brought up to date. I was able to see, first hand, the resulting disrepair caused by past Boards of Education neglecting to sufficiently fund maintenance which had resulted in numerous run-down and possibly unsafe conditions. All of our schools need renovations ranging in cost from a few dollars to many millions of dollars for major repairs. The multitudes of problems that need remedy are staggering and will require continued investment to prevent failure. Besides the buildings, an area that apparently has been underfunded is the repair and maintenance of the buses. A small investment to insure that each bus is safe seems to have been ignored for far too long. The current Board has been promoting a laptop initiative but they have failed to consider the electrical systems and security required to fully implement this project over the next few years.

Money needs to be spent to repair and upgrade and not just ‘patch’ systems, as had been done in the past. Yes, we can do small repairs with $1-million or less but not the major repairs that are needed. Real money needs to be found for the repairs required for the schools and this will require a public vote once we, again, survey the schools. We must develop and rigorously keep to a schedule of maintenance and upgrades so as to prevent the neglect that had been a hallmark of past Boards of Education. Money has to be spent, not only on educating our students, but also on the infrastructure so as to insure a safe and clean environment for our children that promotes learning for the 21st century.

Question 2: Some members of the community have voiced concern over the rigor of the district’s academic program, as well as the availability of honors and advanced placement courses at the high school level. What specific policy steps do you feel the district should be taking to ensure students receive a rigorous and competitive college preparatory education in our public school system?

I believe that a child’s education is greater than the sum of the parts leading to graduation and beyond. School districts must adapt their academic programs to fit the mix of students and educators so as to maximize their learning potential. The way to do this in Brick is to tap into the wealth of knowledge and experience held by our faculty and supervising educators as well as the current research that furthers our understanding of the learning process. In addition, we must build strong relationships with colleges and universities so as to insure that our programs are helping to make our students college and workplace ready. The laptop initiative recently taken by our Board of Education does not go far enough in this regard. In today’s technological world, we need all our students working with computers on a daily basis to aid in the learning process. School systems that have totally embraced technology have shown that this leads to greater gains in student achievement. I would task the superintendent of our schools with creating an environment where the teachers are free to bring new ideas to his attention, ideas that would be vetted with the goal of increasing academic excellence in all of our programs. Promptly adding, improving or removing programs that coincide with current research in education, which our educators are exposed to constantly through professional development, is the only way to keep our students on track to excel in their chosen educational and life careers.

These programs would have to include using the latest in methods, technology and research as well as a strong partnership with colleges to insure that the correct direction is being taken by our schools. Constant evaluation of all programs would also be a requirement to insure we are meeting optimum goals.

Question 3: Full day kindergarten is becoming more common in public school districts, and there is the possibility that the state could mandate its availability in the coming years. Describe your support for, or opposition to, such a program in Brick. If it becomes a mandate, what approach would you take towards implementing a cost effective full-day kindergarten program for the Brick district?

In today’s educational environment, it is important that we give our children every chance to succeed. Full day kindergarten has been implemented by many school districts throughout the country and it is quickly becoming the normal course in progressive communities. Research has found that young children exposed to full day kindergarten, as opposed to half day, leads to an enhanced ability to read better for content, understand mathematics and science more readily and gives them a better chance to excel in almost all subjects. What’s more, it has been found that these advantages extend throughout the student’s academic career and into their lives beyond. Further, the implementation of full day kindergarten has been shown to narrow the achievement gap between all socio-economic groups. This, to me, is not a question of how we will fund it but why are we not already implementing such a far-reaching educational program as full day kindergarten. If we can find money to replace our bleachers, we can surly find the money to better educate the youngest of our future.

Question 4: It is no secret that New Jersey – specifically, its suburban communities – has the nation’s highest property taxes. What specific ideas do you have to generate revenue or realize savings in order to stabilize the tax rate, while maintaining a proper scholastic program for students?

Saving money in our school district will insure that we have the resources to properly supply our students with everything they need to succeed. Some of my ideas for helping to save money and keep taxes from growing as they have in the past are as follows (These are by no means everything I would do, but it is a start and will lead in the right direction):

I would evaluate current revenue programs and continue those programs that are showing positive cash flow.

I would promote and obtain greater business support for sponsoring all activities in our schools.

I would task a Board of Education committee to study school districts in other counties and states as to how they get money.

I would ensure that our BOE actively searches for donations and grants from not only state and federal agencies but also philanthropic organizations.

I would push for a stabilization of health and benefit costs and I would be sure that all of those costs are evaluated yearly.

I would require more justification from the various departments when they submit their yearly budget requests. A line-by-line evaluation has to be completed as we cannot just accept their word for what they need.

I would re-evaluate the use of solar initiatives since not only in our district, but, throughout the country there have been great success stories with the implementation of solar power.

I would ensure that the money and schedule is available for the proper maintenance of all facilities so as to keep repair and energy costs down. We all know that ignoring a small repair now will result in higher costs tomorrow.

I would actively have the BOE investigate the possibility of more shared services with the township.

I would ensure that the schools be more available to outside organizations when school is not in session and that the fees to outside organizations cover the true cost.

Since we have new stadium bleachers, I would look to bring in more outdoor events.

I would look to save energy through proper insulation of our schools. This would require yearly surveys of our facilities.

I would create a system whereby the people working in the buildings can submit requests or information about problems that may affect the operation of classrooms or result in energy loss.

I would utilize the GPS system to evaluate how our busses are being utilized and correct routes and habits to save gas and wear-and-tear.

I would ensure that, when we are offered matching funds, that we take advantage of them and not just let them go to another district because of our inaction.[6]

Brick Patch candidate profile on David Fischer, (2012), [2]

2011

Fischer provided the following answers to questions from Brick Patch:

Where do you stand on balancing Brick’s resources between academics and sports programs? Given a tight budgetary environment, where would your priorities lie in this regard?

I believe that a child’s education is greater than the sum of the parts leading to graduation. There are many factors that lead to a full education experience and it is hard to remove one without possibly hurting the outcome. Not all children participate in extra-curricular activities, but that does not make these activities any less important in a child’s overall experience. All activities, including sports and clubs, bring our community together and help to develop in our children a strong feeling of spirit, accomplishment and leadership skills. I believe that all avenues, including pay-to-play, fundraising and donation support, must be explored before eliminating any extra-curricular activity. The main focus of any school system is to ensure the proper education of all of our children and to this end I would do my best to ensure that our schools never lack in the tools necessary to reach this goal.

How would you seek to bolster the academic experience of students with the goal of adequately preparing them for college? What specific types of programs and initiatives would you like to see put in place to make Brick the most academically challenging district it could be?

I would make it my priority to ensure that our superintendent was actively evaluating all new educational pedagogies that may be presented through publications or suggestions from members of the educational community. It is important that all new technologies be explored, not only for what new programs we may be able to add, but also to gain knowledge in how to fully utilize what we have already installed. Our educators are our greatest asset, and constant training in the methods of using their resources to optimize the educational experience is important to help attain the goals of a successful student. It is also important that teachers be given the freedom to use innovative techniques to take advantage of a student’s learning style. We must also enlist the aid of our local business community in supporting the educational process through programs that reward those that reach the highest levels of achievement. Many colleges offer credit for select high school courses through programs such as “Course Ahead” and “Jump Start.” We must ensure that our courses meet college criteria so that this option is available to our students as an incentive to achieve their goals. A school’s dynamic is constantly changing and we must ensure that we have the right people and programs in place to fully take advantage of those changes.

How should the board deal with public participation at board meetings? Also, briefly describe your views on how the Board of Education can achieve the most transparent relationship possible with the community, and specific policies you would propose that would help meet this goal.

An informative and open board meeting is essential to the operation of a school district. The population must be allowed to see and question all decisions made by the BOE that affect the education of the children and the operation of the school district. No one should be prohibited from speaking and asking questions regardless of the time it takes or the time of day. Currently community members are limited to asking questions before the entire agenda is discussed by board members and then after the board members have cast all their votes. Since the agenda is divided up into voting sections I believe that the community should be able to ask questions after each section since actions of the board during discussions on these sections may elicit other concerns from the audience. No inquiry should ever be ignored and no member of the community should ever be chastised for getting up and voicing their concern. Kindness and respect must be shown to those who have opposing points of view; censorship of any kind should not be allowed. Questions must be answered at the meeting and, if the Board does not have the information on hand, then the question and answer should be posted on the BOE website within just a few days. The lines of communication must always be open and accessible by all members of the community.

Capital projects – including repairs to aging school buildings – have long been a concern of many Brick residents. What improvements should be prioritized and what would be your strategy in mapping out a potential referendum to be presented to voters?

As a member of the Facilities Committee, I am acutely aware of the many improvements that are required for the schools in our district. The heating systems in many schools are beyond end of life and the cost of maintaining and repairing them will increase over time. We have solar panels that supply electricity but to take full advantage of them we need to upgrade lighting systems to be brighter and more energy efficient. The HVAC system at our High Schools are past their life expectancy and almost all replacement parts need to be custom made at a high cost for most repairs. In addition, during the winter, some classrooms get too hot to use due to system controls that can no longer be repaired. A new system would be energy efficient and maintenance friendly, which would save tax dollars and improve the school environment. I would consider it a priority to put the replacement of the HVAC systems that have surpassed their end of life before the voters. In addition to the large ticket renovations that need to be made, there are many small projects that can be completed, including upgrades to communication, wiring and electrical systems, with the capital funds that are in our 2011-2012 budget. I would be sure to present to the public not only the work that has to be done but the benefit to the education of our students and the cost savings over time to the taxpayer.

In 250 words or less, please describe why you are seeking election or re-election to the board, and why you are qualified to represent the interests of the taxpayers and the students in such a position.

I consider my background in education and business qualifies me to represent the students and taxpayers of our community. From the time I was 17, I have been managing businesses. I developed my team leadership skills and became proficient at implementing ideas as I elevated my hands-on self-taught experience to the level of managing small to multi-million dollar businesses. For the last 20 years, I have been operating my own successful sales business which allows me the flexibility to be available for all the duties of a board member. I have a BA in History from Montclair State University with an education concentration and I am well versed in conducting research. For the past 22 years, I have worked in various school districts as a substitute teacher and this has allowed me to gain insight into the operation of schools and the needs of the education community. I have many relatives who are educators and they are a rich resource for me whenever I need to discuss any aspect of education. I do not have any self-interest in serving on the BOE other than to ensure that our students are afforded a well-rounded education, that the educators are treated fairly and that our community and taxpayer’s interests are not overlooked. I have every confidence that my education and business background provides a good foundation for me to efficiently perform the duties of a member of the Brick Board of Education.[6]

Brick Patch candidate profile on David Fischer, (2011), [1]

What was at stake?

2014

The 2014 election was an opportunity for a shift on the school board as incumbents faced two challengers for the two seats up for election. It also marked the fourth consecutive election for both challengers, John Barton and David Fischer.

In 2014, Brick Township Public Schools saw a rise in the ranking of its high schools in a statewide comparison. Meanwhile, the board of education deliberated on a social media policy and whether or not to leave the state's health insurance program.

Issues in the district

NJM ranking

The magazine New Jersey Monthly ranked all 339 New Jersey high schools in 2012 and 2014. The analysis for the report was conducted by the research company Leflein Associates. The report weighted school environment at 1, student performance at 1.5 and student outcomes at 2.1.[7] In 2012, Brick Township High School (BTHS) and Brick Township Memorial High School (BTMHS) ranked 261st and 269th, respectively. Both schools improved on the magazine's rankings in 2014. BTHS rose to 206th while BTMHS rose to 188th.[8]

Social media policy

At their October 9, 2014, meeting, the board of education discussed the development of a social media policy. A state law passed earlier in 2014 requires school districts to develop such policies. Board members varied widely on the degree of interaction they wanted to allow staff to have with students through social media, text messages and personal phones.

Karyn Cusanelli argued in favor of a stricter policy that would help the school handle issues surrounding social media since the school has no legal means to access records on such websites if accusations are made. Michael Conti, however, stated that the district "should extend professional courtesy to our staff of knowing what the limits are.” The board came to a consensus at the meeting to implement a program like Microsoft SharePoint, " a web-based application that features numerous communication and collaboration tools that could be monitored by the district, which would have a record of all the activity of both students and staff." The board was set to vote on a final draft of its social media policy its October 23, 2014, meeting.[9]

Health insurance costs

The Brick Township Public Schools system began participating in the state's health insurance plan in 2010, when it switched from self-insurance. However, the state's rates run from January 1 to December 31 of each year, while the district's budget runs from July 1 to June 30. This lead to budgeting difficulties for the district. In 2014, the state's plan rate increased 12 percent while the board of education had planned for a 6 percent increase leaving a shortfall of approximately half a million dollars.[10]

The board considered switching back to a self-insurance through Horizon Blue Cross-Blue Shield known as Direct 10. The switch would save the school district $958,000.[11]

2013

Issues in the district

Mold outbreak at Drum Point

The district has been dealing with significant mold problems at Drum Point Elementary School since an August 2013 inspection. Superintendent Walter Uszenski noted that the district spent $200,000 on clean-up services since the inspection with district insurance covering $25,000. The mold outbreak occurred due to the school's lack of central cooling and high humidity throughout the building during the summer break.[12][13]

Assistant superintendent controversy

David Fischer accused Superintendent Uszenski of negligence after two candidates were hired to replace an outgoing assistant superintendent. In a discussion on the local Patch website, Fischer also argued that the assistant superintendent was merely transferred to another position. The former candidate noted that these personnel moves cost the district $220,000 in salaries and benefits. Uszenski responded to these claims by suggesting that the district needed an additional academic officer for special services as well as an interim assistant superintendent.[14]

About the district

Brick Township Public Schools is located in Ocean County, New Jersey
See also: Brick Township Public Schools, New Jersey

Brick Township Public Schools is located in Ocean County, New Jersey. The county seat of Ocean County is Toms River. In 2013, Ocean County was home to approximately 583,414 residents according to estimates by the United States Census Bureau.[15] In 2011-2012 school year, Brick Township Public Schools was the 17th-largest school district by enrollment in New Jersey and served 9,893 students.

Demographics

Ocean County underperformed in comparison to the rest of New Jersey in terms of education achievement in 2012. The United States Census Bureau found that 25 percent of Ocean County residents aged 25 years and older had attained a bachelor's degree compared to 35.4 percent for New Jersey as a whole. The median household income for Ocean County was $61,038 compared to the state average of $71,637. The unemployment rate in the county was 10.2 percent while it was 9.9 percent statewide.[15]

Racial Demographics, 2013[15]
Race Ocean County (%) New Jersey (%)
White 93.0 73.4
Black or African American 3.5 14.7
American Indian and Alaska Native 0.3 0.6
Asian 1.9 9.2
Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander 0.0 0.1
Two or More Races 1.3 2.0
Hispanic or Latino 8.8 18.9

Presidential Voting Pattern, Ocean County[16]
Year Democratic Vote Republican Vote
2012 102,300 146,474
2008 110,189 160,677
2004 99,839 154,204
2000 102,104 105,684

Note: The United States Census Bureau considers "Hispanic or Latino" to be a place of origin, not a race. Therefore, the Census allows citizens to report both their race and that they are from a "Hispanic or Latino" place of origin simultaneously. As a result, the percentages in each column of the racial demographics table will exceed 100 percent. Each column will add up to 100 percent after removing the "Hispanic or Latino" place of origin percentages, although rounding by the Census Bureau may make the total one or two tenths off from being exactly 100 percent.[17]

Recent news

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See also

External links

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References

  1. 1.0 1.1 Brick Patch, "BOE Candidate Profile: David Fischer," April 20, 2011
  2. 2.0 2.1 Brick Patch, "BOE Candidate Profile: David Fischer," October 25, 2012
  3. Ocean County Clerk's Office, "2014 SCHOOL BOARD CANDIDATES LIST," accessed September 8, 2014
  4. New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission, "View a Candidate or Election Related Committee Report," accessed October 14, 2014
  5. New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission, "Standard Search," accessed December 27, 2013
  6. 6.0 6.1 Note: This text is quoted verbatim from the original source. Any inconsistencies are attributed to the original source.
  7. New Jersey Monthly, "Top Schools 2014: Methodology," September 2, 2014
  8. New Jersey Monthly, "Top Schools Alphabetical List 2014," September 2, 2014
  9. Brick Shorebeat, "Brick School Board Debates Staff Social Media Policy," October 10, 2014
  10. Brick Shorebeat, "Brick School District Facing Health Insurance Hike From State," September 22, 2014
  11. Brick Shorebeat, "Brick School District Would Save $958K in Health Insurance Switch," October 13, 2014
  12. Asbury Park Press, "Brick mulls closing school," October 31, 2013
  13. Patch, "Brick Spent More Than $500,000 To Correct Schools' Mold Problem," November 15, 2013
  14. Patch, "Superintendent Responds to Allegations About Assistant Superintendent," October 31, 2013
  15. 15.0 15.1 15.2 United States Census Bureau, "Ocean County, New Jersey," accessed September 8, 2014
  16. New Jersey Department of State, "NJ Election Information and Results Archive," accessed September 8, 2014
  17. United States Census Bureau, "Frequently Asked Questions," accessed April 21, 2014