Candidates Discuss What’s Best For Brick Schools

Brick Board of Ed Building (Photo courtesy of Daniel Nee, Brick ShoreBeat)

BRICK – Three candidates are running for the two available Board of Education seats that are up for grabs in the November election.

In phone interviews in early September, the three candidates were asked to tell about their backgrounds, including how long they have lived in Brick; their education; their job history; if they have children who attend/attended township schools; and what they think are the most important issues facing the Brick school district. These are their answers in alphabetical order:

Long-time Board member Sharon Cantillo is not running for re-election, but John Barton, 59, is running for his second three-year term.

Barton was born in Rahway, but moved to Brick when he was 7 years old.

John Barton

He has his B.A. in psychology from Stockton University, and attended Georgian Court University to earn an additional 20 credits to earn his Teacher of Handicapped degree, which certified him as a teacher. While he was earning these credits, Barton worked as a substitute teacher in Brick schools.

He has taught eighth grade science in Jackson for 31 years. Barton’s classes are inclusionary classes, which include special education students. His wife, Tracy, teaches kindergarten at Emma Havens Young Elementary School. His two children attended Brick schools and graduated from Brick High School.

While serving on the Brick Board of Education, Barton had been on the Facilities Committee, and he said continuing improvements on the schools is one of his priorities.

“We have to keep [facilities] in mind when the budget is created, because we have to do what we can within the financial means that we have,” Barton said.

He said he would like school programs continue to grow to meet the academic needs of the community, such as the new high school STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) academies and the use of technology in the classrooms.

Barton said that safety is a big concern to him since he is on the Safety Committee at his school in Jackson.

“I’d like to see enhanced security drills, like lockdown drills and evacuation drills, which is like a fire drill,” he said. “I would like to look into the possibility of staying current with safety needs in the district.”

Jessica Clayton, 38, is a NJ certified teacher in both preschool through 3rd grade, and K-5th

Jessica Clayton

grade. She taught in bilingual public preschool programs in New Brunswick and Trenton for six years before opening up her state licensed home daycare in Brick.

Clayton was raised in Dumont, NJ, and has lived in Brick about 10 years, but grew up spending her summers at her grandmother’s house on the Metedeconk River.

She earned her degree in history and English from Rutgers University and has graduate credits from Montclair State University in early childhood education and has a P-3 certificate.

Clayton has two children ages 5 and 7, and has home-schooled them for kindergarten. Her 7-year-old attends Voyagers’ Community School in Eatontown.

“I want to bring play back. I send my daughter to Voyagers’ School because they don’t have play in Brick schools, and they don’t spend enough time outside,” Clayton said in a phone interview.

“We have to work within the budget and the changes I want to make have nothing to do with the budget,” she said.

“[The Brick school district] doesn’t follow the children’s interests, they have a blanket curriculum for all the kids. Voyagers’ School has individualized learning based on their interests. I’d like to bring that to Brick schools,” Clayton said.

She said she believes in mandatory recess that could not be taken away as punishment or to be used as time to finish classwork.

“I don’t think that’s fair. We all need a break to socialize, to regroup and to get rejuvenated and ready to learn,” she said.

Maria E. Foster, 40, was born and raised in Williamstown, South Jersey, and moved to Brick two years ago from Margate.

Maria E. Foster

She has an Associate’s Degree from Mount West University, and is the Director of Government and Community Affairs for the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades. Before that, she worked as a commercial painter for 10 years.

Foster said she relocated for her job and moved to Brick because the school district had good ratings, which was a concern because she has a 15-year-old son.

“The school system in Margate was excellent, so I was looking for a place to live and I wanted to find a good school system,” she said.

Foster said she is frustrated that only three people are running for the Board of Education.

“I want to be involved. I own a house here so we’ll probably be here forever,” she said. “With the school budget cuts and everything else going on, I thought I could help.”

She said she wants to make sure that tax dollars are being spent properly, and with her background she said she could bring oversight and logic to the budget process.

“I want to make sure the children have what they need in the classroom to be successful in their lives,” Foster said.

Foster said that when she moved to Brick she was looking for different opportunities to get involved in the community, so she submitted her resume for a position as a commissioner on the Brick Municipal Utilities Authority. She was appointed to the position by the township council.

Maria Foster and John Barton are running as a team because they both said they have the same goals.

The election will be on Tuesday, November 7, 2017.