GALLOWAY TOWNSHIP — There are four seats on the Galloway Township Board of Education up for election Tuesday, Nov. 7.

Michael Greb, John W. Knorr and board President Ernest D. Huggard hold three of the seats, and all are running for re-election. Challenger Sherri Parmenter is looking to win one of their seats.

The fourth seat is held by James Gentile, who is running unchallenged for the final two years of the term. Gentile was appointed by the board in January to fill the seat won by Annette Alegret Carmen, who after the election decided not to serve.

The Current asked each candidate to provide biographical information and answer a few questions. Greb and Parmenter failed to respond by this newspaper's deadline. Gentile did not provide a photo.

John W. Knorr 

Knorr, 76, has lived in Galloway for 21 years. He and his wife of 52 years, Sue, have two children.

Why are you running?

I have been an educator for over 53 years, serving as a business education teacher, school business administrator, administrator for the New Jersey Department of Education, college professor, and as a member of the Galloway Township Board of Education for the past 18 years. I have also written and authored eight financial studies to determine if school districts should consider consolidating, rationalizing, or remaining in their current status.

I have also been a member and treasurer of the Galloway Township Education Foundation since 1999, and I have been the co-director of the Galloway Township Education Foundation annual golf tournament for 17 years.

What special skill set do you bring to the board?

I am running again for my board seat because I feel my background and experience in education, school law, and school finance are an asset to our great school system and to the community.

What is the most important issue?

Our board continues to face many difficult challenges: the annual school budget process, stagnant or reduced state aid — please New Jersey pass a funding formula and then fund it — and numerous nonfunded state mandates.

Our board will meet all of these challenges by working together as it always has done to provide a quality education at a reasonable cost to the taxpayers.

Ernest D. Huggard

Huggard, 60, has lived in the township for 34 years. He and his wife of 33 years, Mary, have three children — Dough, Drew and Catie — who were educated in the township public school system.

Why are you running?

I have served on the Board of Education for 18 years and obtained knowledge in school governance and public service. My extensive experience on board matters specifically to the budget provides a great insight and skill set to serve the community. I enjoy working with the taxpayers and children of Galloway. I continually strive to improve our school system.

What special skill set do you bring to the board?

I believe that a combination of formal education, executive management leadership and 28 years of military service retiring as a lieutenant colonel gives me a broad set of skills to serve the community. I am also a certified public accountant licensed in New Jersey.

What is the most important issue?

Financial stability and funding remain the No. 1 issue. Every year the state of New Jersey changes the amount of funding that Galloway receives, which causes uncertainly within the district. We need a school funding formula that the State will adhere to so we can properly finance education. 

James Gentile                                 

Gentile, 62, has lived in Galloway for 25 years. He and his wife of 36 years, Helene, have three adult children.

Why are you running?

Decisions made by local governmental entities have a daily and immediate impact upon the lives of the members of the community, both adults and children. Of these entities, members of school boards volunteer to assume one of the most significant responsibilities of local government: to work collaboratively with school administration, teachers, parents and all members of our community. Of course, this work is on behalf of the children who the school is charged to educate and help grow toward adulthood.

Members of school boards literally volunteer to assume this responsibility, and do so in this time of increasing social complexity and of rapidly changing social and governmental dynamics. I have found this work to be challenging and exciting. The work also underscores the importance of the citizenry actively being involved in local government.

What special skill set do you bring to the board?

I am an attorney who is retired from government service. I believe I bring to the board an appreciation of the complexity of the interrelationship of the various governmental entities, both state and local, and the impact that complex relationship has upon decisions made by the school board. I am trained to work collaboratively. I also bring to the board the perspective of a person who has not served in education. I think these skills complement the excellent skills with which other members of our school board serve our community.

What is the most important issue?

The most important issue facing Galloway Township is one that faces most municipalities in New Jersey: the funding of our schools through local property taxes, which seems to make less sense with each year. It is a system that has its roots in the 17th century, and while the system may have evolved in response to needs and demands of the electorate, it appears to have evolved into a system that is overly and unnecessarily complex and inequitable.

It seems that rather than engaging in a process to meaningfully address these issues, state government has permitted municipalities rely upon “fixes” which don’t fix the problem, for example payments in lieu of taxes and abatements through the Grow New Jersey Program. As indicated by the state comptroller, as far back as 2010, these abatements seem often to shift the tax burden onto homeowners and raise concerns about transparency.

In 2013 the League of Municipalities advocated broad changes to this system of financing local government, to make it more equitable. School board members are unpaid volunteers, who struggle with this issue every year and, perhaps, can be at least one more voice advocating for meaningful reform of this system. 

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Contact: 609-601-5193

rj.liberatore@catamaranmedia.com

Twitter @gallowaycurrent