As an elected member of the Mainland Regional High School Board of Education. I have a unique perspective on the referendum to make the Linwood school board an elected body rather than one appointed by the mayor.

The first thing new board members do is attend an orientation sponsored by the New Jersey School Boards Association. The most emphasized point at the orientation is that you should not have a personal agenda of any kind. The primary role of a board member is to set policies that support the school district in meeting its goal to educate students to its fullest capability.

Suggesting that an appointed board member would meet that responsibility without allowing politics to influence decisions is specious. When board members are beholden to a mayor for their seat it is implicit that they will be influenced by that mayor. The mayor wields influence simply by having the power to name the school board’s membership.

Elected boards may have persons who run for seats with political agendas in mind. Although a board member should never serve in order to lower or raise taxes, save the city money, or spend funds on pet projects, there are those who will try. However, in such cases voters should know before casting their votes what the person’s agenda is and cast their votes accordingly.

In my experience the mere fact that in order to run for a seat one must state their reasons helps maintain a fair and objective board focused on education, not politics.

Douglas Harvey


Stay informed! Sign up to receive top headlines from Atlantic County delivered to your inbox.