For the third year in a row, Jean Marie Mitchell is running for school board.
“I am dedicated to be on this board,” Mitchell, 50, said. “I am dedicated to the school district.”
While Mitchell ran and lost last year, she already served a year on the board during the 2010-2011 school year. In April 2010, Mitchell was elected to fulfill a one-year term on the board.
As the mother of a sophomore at Hoboken High School, Mitchell said she wants to make move the district forward and make more people aware of the Hoboken High School, which she calls “Hoboken’s best kept secret.”
Mitchell’s son has been in the Hoboken public schools since Kindergarten, she said.
The Kids First ticket of which Mitchell is part, recently underwent some changes. Sitting board member Theresa Minutillo announced that she wouldn’t be running for re-election. Tom Kluepfel—one of the founders of the Elysian Charter School—then joined Kids First. Also running with Mitchell this year is sitting board member Ruth McAllister.
Running against Kids First, is a three-member ticket that calls itself Move Hoboken Forward.
The candidates that make up Kids First, Mitchell said, is “strong” this year. Last year, Mitchell ran with Cliff Godfrey and Steve Feinstein. All three candidates lost in 2011.
“That ticket,” Mitchell said, “wasn’t as strong as this ticket, I’d say.”
This is also the first time that the school board elections are being held in November. Candidates have been seen campaigning and registering people to vote.
Mitchell, who has lived in Hoboken for more than a decade, attends the monthly council meetings and takes pride in the fact that her attendance record is clean. In fact, it’s one of the things she is disappointed with about some of the current board members.
“I am frustrated and disillusioned,” she said about some board members, without naming any names. “They don’t even attend committee meetings.”
On Mitchell’s to-do list are tasks such as “improving the reputation or the image of the district and of course improving scores.” Also important, Mitchell said, is to get more parents involved. “I find that the more involved the parent is,” she said, “the more successful the child can be.”
While Kids First currently holds a five-vote majority on the school board, Mitchell said it’s not enough.
The school board has been under some criticism lately with a disappointing ranking in New Jersey Monthly and a slow increase in test scores. Superintendent of Schools Mark Toback, meanwhile, has said that those numbers represent the school district of two years ago, rather than today’s situation.
About Toback, Mitchell had no criticism whatsoever. Mitchell, who was on the hiring committee when Toback was brought on two years ago, said that she is “thrilled with his performance.”
While the Hoboken Board of Education is an unpaid position, Mitchell—who works full time as a information technology manager during the day—said it has “kind of become my life.”
“I’m a single parent,” Mitchell said. “I am serious about this. I don’t want to just talk about this. I want to be able to get back on the dais and serve again.”
Stay tuned to Patch for interviews with all the school board candidates.