HAMILTON TOWNSHIP — Three incumbents and one former board member are among the five candidates seeking three-year terms on the Hamilton Township Board of Education on Election Day, Nov. 7.

Meanwhile, the race for a Hamilton Township seat on the Greater Egg Harbor Regional High School Board of Education is uncontested as incumbent Margaret (Peg) Capone is the only declared candidate.

The candidates were asked to provide personal information as well as answers to the following questions:

How long have you lived in the district?

Do you have or did you have kids in the district?

Why are you running for the board?

What special skill set do you bring to the board?

What is the most important issue facing your school district?

Hamilton Township Board of Education

The incumbents, who are running as a team, are Eric Aiken, Derek Hare and Barbara Kupp. The former board member is Amelia Francis. Harry Rogers is seeking his first seat on the board.

Eric Aiken

44 years old. Married to Kristin for 14 years. Lifelong resident. Attended Hamilton Township public schools grades K-8 and graduated from Oakcrest High School in 1991. I have two children who attend William Davies Middle School.

I am seeking re-election to continue to serve the community I grew up in and to keep the district moving forward in the positive direction that it has been for the past few years.

This is my eighth year on the board, (and I) have been serving as president for the past three years. I bring experience and professionalism to the table when performing my duties. (I) have no agenda and make my own decisions based on the info I receive and the questions I ask. I have learned a lot about our education system with my time spent on the board.

When it comes to the most important issue facing the district, funding is always at the top of the list. The district has been underfunded from the state for years, as are most districts. We need to look for different avenues and think outside the box when it comes to funding until this is resolved. This will ensure all of our programs and activities we have, which make well-rounded students, continue. We have to be mindful of our taxpayers who are footing the bill when certain decisions are made. I have always made my decisions based on what is best for all the students of our district and will continue to advocate for each and every one.

Amelia Francis

I have been married for 30 years and resided in Hamilton Township for 26 years. I have 5 children. All have gone through the Hamilton Township School District. I hold two degrees: early childhood development and American literature.

I am running for the BOE because of my passion to see all children reach their full potential.

My understanding of childhood development, my passion to advocate for every child, my ability to listen and consider the thoughts/concerns of others are just a few "special skill sets" I will bring to the board.

I believe one of the most important issues facing the school district is trying to balance the increasing cost of education vs. the financial needs of the district. Since the community (taxpayers) are affected by these issues as well, they also have to be considered in every decision made on this level.

Derek Haye

I am 44 and married. I have a bachelor's degree from Montclair State University and master's from Rowan University. I am a lifelong resident with two children in District 1 at Oakcrest.

I think the No. 1 thing a New Jersey school board must be is a champion for public education. The school board's duty is to provide the district the tools to maintain a safe, supportive environment so that effective learning and teaching take place in the classroom. I am honored to serve on the Board of Education and look forward to being a part of Hamilton Township schools’ future growth and vision.

I'm a high school technology teacher that teaches classes focused on 21st century skills. I have realized the importance of preparing students to become successful lifelong learners.

I’m aware of the financial climate in New Jersey, especially Atlantic County, but we must be committed to doing what is necessary for every student to achieve in Hamilton Township. I, along with school board members Eric Aiken, Barbara Kupp and the Hamilton Township community, have created the district’s Strategic Plan. The strategic planning process has allowed residents, district staff and community leaders to come together and create a plan for the district.

Barbara Kupp

I am 66 years old and married to George Kupp. I am a graduate of Glassboro State College and was an educator at the Joseph. C. Shaner School for 35 years. I have been a member of the Hamilton Township Board of Education for seven years. I have been involved with the district for 44 years as an educator and volunteer.

I am running again because I feel I am honest, respectful, confident and have proven I can work well with others to provide the best education for our children in this community.

Our current board has established a collaborative, trusting relationship with each other. We had a superintendent who retired, worked well with our interim, conducted a search through NJSBA (the New Jersey School Boards Association) and hired our present superintendent, Frank Vogel. We recently concluded our very first Strategic Planning, a vision for the future, which involved all stakeholders in our community. We have developed a Mental Health Initiative, adopted curriculum in all grades pre-K-8, hiring many professionals to meet the needs of our students. We took great pride in settling negotiations for all units this past year. We value our staff and their efforts, keeping the taxpayers in mind and our ability to pay.

The challenges will continue to be stagnant funding, regional economic conditions, poverty, climate and culture, and improved student achievement. We strive to involve our parents in all levels, providing activities, workshops and forums to promote the positive image of the district.

While our world is ever-changing, I feel our schools are a reflection of our community. We offer many programs, activities and sports to keep our students involved. We continue to look for ways to maintain our buildings, grounds and provide a safe environment for all.

We are currently in a good place with a positive outlook. Our team, Haye Kupp & Aiken, has proven we are listeners, we have the ability to communicate and we have the desire to offer the best for our students and staff.

Harry Rogers

I am 62 and married to Karen. I have lived in the township since 1978. I hold a bachelor's degree in meteorology/oceanography, an MBA in finance, U.S. Coast Guard license as “Master of Steam and Motor Vessels, unlimited horse power.” “First-class pilot on Delaware Bay from Sea to Brandywine Light.” I am an accredited process auditor for quality management systems. I had three children in Hamilton Township schools.  

The local tax bill is 53 percent devoted to the schools. As Atlantic County has become the foreclosure capital of the country, enrollments have decreased, but costs continue to rise. The administrators and the BOE have been irresponsible in the allocation of public funds. The budget is intentionally salary-loaded while capital projects become emergency appropriations and bond issues to maintain and improve the infrastructure. I’ve attended BOE meetings that are incomprehensible to the lay-person. The lack of transparency, I believe, is intentional. I am a business owner with a good understanding of government contracting. I know what it takes to be able to sign the front of a paycheck.

Greater Egg Harbor Regional High School District BOE

Margaret (Peg) Capone

I am running for re-election to the Greater Egg Harbor Regional High School District Board because of my commitment to the community and to the promise of our young people. My supportive husband of 30 years and I have three college graduates and one child who is still in the Hamilton school system. I am running to help implement our Strategic Plan, which will benefit the future students of Greater Egg Harbor. We need a strategy to propel our children and their education. The transition from middle school to high school is an awakening. I am concerned about the many students who are entering our excellent schools (Oakcrest, Absegami and Cedar Creek) unprepared for the extensive high school curriculum and the engaging magnet programs. If we can pinpoint the deficiencies and identify solutions, we will help springboard future high school students into rewarding vocations.

I am also committed to helping GEHRHSD to meet financial challenges and seek to redress funding inadequacies and inequities through state channels.

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