LINWOOD — Voters here will choose three Board of Education members for the K-8 district in the Nov. 7 general election for the first time.

In 2016, voters elected to change the Linwood School District from a Type I district, where board members are appointed to their seats, to a Type II district, where all members are elected. As appointed board members' terms expire, their seats will be filled in the following election by a majority vote.

Four candidates are seeking three seats on the board. Jason Goldstein is the only incumbent running. He was elected to a 9-month term when voters cast their first ballots in a March special election.

Goldstein is seeking to return to the board for a full three-year term. Matthew Simpson, Alexa D’Amato Barrera and Kathleen Lowry are also seeking three-year terms. Two longstanding board members not seeking to run for their seats are board President Richard Sless and former BOE President Lynn Gibson.

Jason Goldstein

Incumbent Goldstein, 36, has lived in Linwood for eight years. He and his wife have two sons, one at Belhaven Avenue Middle School and one at Seaview Elementary School.

A graduate of Ithaca College, Goldstein has a degree in communications. He attended Mercer Community College and earned a degree in funeral service. He is the manager of Roth-Goldstein Memorial Chapel in Atlantic City.

“Currently I have served five of the nine-month term I was elected to in March," Goldstein said. "Over this time, I have worked with the other eight members to help better our schools. I was embraced and brought fresh and new perspectives to our table. I sit on the Policy and Future Ready and Safety and Security Committees. I have gone beyond those groups to educate and gain a better perspective about our district through attending other committees such as Personnel and Curriculum. I feel we have accomplished a lot of positive changes to our district, but nine months won’t be enough to fulfill my other goals.”

The candidate said joining the BOE has ignited a spark he is excited to continue to fuel.

“I am always reading, learning and listening to find out new, innovative ways to better our district," he said. "Since being elected, neighbors and residents have reached out to me with questions and concerns. I have not hesitated to meet with administration to clarify matters and get information to them in a timely fashion."

He said the most important issues facing the district are staying ahead of the times in curriculum, understanding the challenges and needs of families, and offering more of a variety of after-school programming.

Kathleen 'Casey' Lowry

Lowry, 39, and her husband, Rob, have lived in Linwood for eight years. The couple have two daughters attending Seaview School.

A first-time candidate, Lowry earned education and English degrees from Rider University and a master's degree in reading education from Widener University. She is a reading specialist at Fernwood Avenue Middle School in Egg Harbor Township.

Lowry said she decided to run for the board because of her passion for education and children.

“The field is changing rapidly, and it is imperative that districts keep up in order for our children to be prepared for college. Being a member of the board will allow me to be a part of implementing and facilitating these changes,” Lowry said.

She has worked in the Egg Harbor Township School District for 18 years as a fifth-grade teacher and most recently as one of the district's reading specialists.

“My time in the field of education has provided me with extensive knowledge of the day-to-day operations of a school. I have been a part of writing various curriculums and piloting different programs and with this have worked on large-scale data collection. I am very familiar with grant writing and working on and within school budgets.”

Lowry said the most important issue facing the district is how to remain competitive with other area school districts while using existing resources so as not to increase the current school budget.

“I think our schools have this infrastructure in place, and I would like to see it used to individualize instruction and meet the needs of each student where they are as individuals and not as a class,” she said.

Alexa D’Amato Barrera

D’Amato Barrera, 41, has lived in Linwood for more than 20 years. She and her husband, Alexander, have three sons. The Mainland Regional High School graduate earned her undergraduate degree in psychology from Stockton University and is a 2001 graduate of Rutgers School of Law.

The first-time candidate said she and her husband grew up in Linwood and chose to raise their family here because of the quality education and exceptional teachers they knew their children would have. Following in her parents' footsteps in serving the community, D’Amato Barrera said she is excited to have the opportunity to give her time and energy back to the community that helped shape her.

D’Amato Barrera said the most important issue facing the district is communication and transparency.

“We can do better in Linwood. 

As a parent myself, I know how difficult it is to attend the monthly board meetings. I will respectfully consider everyone that comes before the board to voice their concerns and do everything I can to ensure those concerns are thoughtfully considered. It is also a goal of mine to broadcast our board meetings for those parents and residents that are unable to attend the meetings in person. If I am elected to the Linwood School Board fostering transparency and communication will be key missions of mine.

If I am elected to the Linwood school board, fostering transparency and communication will be a key mission of mine,” said D’Amato Barrera.

Matthew Simpson

Simpson, 45, grew up in Linwood and returned four years ago with his wife, Judy, and their two sons, both students at Seaview School. The Mainland graduate went on to West Virginia University, where he earned a journalism degree.

Simpson is a regional manager with Carfax, working closely with members of the law-enforcement community in New Jersey and neighboring states, and works with department budgets. He also performs volunteer work with Jewish Family Service and the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

“If elected, my mission is to represent the best interests of all parents, taxpayers, teachers and students who need a voice," he said. "This is a communitywide responsibility that I will not take lightly. It requires thoughtful consideration on every decision because it impacts all of us — most importantly, the students, but also the long-term vitality of our community."

The candidate said he feels he is the best choice to represent Linwood: “I bring leadership experience developed through my professional and volunteer experiences; I am an objective and thoughtful listener; and most importantly, I am passionate about education."

Simpson said he has gained a better understanding of the issues and strengths of the Linwood schools from regularly attending BOE meetings.

“I have ideas on how to increase community involvement and clear communication, such as a Parent Academy Program, to expose residents to various aspects of the Linwood school board. I would also like to see Power School, currently in use at Belhaven, be added at Seaview,” he said.

The BOE candidate said board members are an important link between the community and the school district. Simpson said student learning is the most important objective. If elected, Simpson said he would focus on high standards, top-notch curriculum and retaining highly qualified teachers.

Simpson said student learning is the No. 1 objective. He said all board members need to ensure that education dollars are well spent and that he favors performing a cost-benefit analysis of the services offered in the district.

“I believe that the best school boards look for ways to build relationships between each other, the teachers, administrators and the community," he said. "If I am fortunate enough to win your support and be elected to the Linwood Board of Education, it will be a genuine honor, and I will proudly serve this great community that I call home.”

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