December 2, 2020

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education gives you strength

Hillsborough Board Of Education Profile: Lorraine Soisson

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HILLSBOROUGH, NJ — Hillsborough Township School Board has six candidates vying for three seats in...

HILLSBOROUGH, NJ — Hillsborough Township School Board has six candidates vying for three seats in the upcoming election on Nov. 3.

Incumbent Dr. Lorraine A. Soisson is one of the candidates running. The other candidates include Cynthia “Cindy” DeCavalcante Nurse, Benjamin Wilson Kidd, incumbent Judith C. Haas, Ann Harris, and Paul Marini.

All of the candidates are running for the three, three-year seats on the board.

Are you running for office in Hillsborough? Contact Alexis Tarrazi at [email protected] for information on being featured in a candidate’s profile and submitting campaign announcements to Hillsborough Patch.

Dr. Lorraine A. Soisson

1. Why are running for Board of Education?

I believe every child deserves a quality education and feel that there is no better way to
succeed than to obtain a great education that enriches you with not only knowledge, but
teaches you how to think for yourself, as well as provides for additional experiences that help
our children find something about which they are passionate. I want to ensure that others who
live in our community benefit from the wonderful public schools that Hillsborough offers and
that Hillsborough remains a sought-out community in which to own a home and raise a family.

2. What are your qualifications for this position?

I have volunteered for 20 years to move our educational system forward. I was HSA president at Triangle and Auten Road Schools for 6 years and President of the Joint Council of HSA Presidents for six years as well. I spent time in our schools and gained an understanding of the challenges facing our district. I wanted to help our students and teachers more directly and wanted to give a voice to the parents that would come to me questions and issues. That is why I first ran for BOE in 2012. During my seven years as a BOE member, I have brought that voice as I served on all five Board committees, and have chaired the Education Committee for two. I also have been Vice President for two years and am currently President of the Board and chair of the Governance Committee.

My immigrant parents emphasized education as a priority. I worked hard, earning a PhD from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. For 20-plus years, I have been advising the U.S. State Department on issues involving infectious diseases and global health, an expertise that I use when considering the safe operation of our schools. I have a record of success working collaboratively with diverse groups to harmonize goals and institute effective programs in the context of ever-shrinking budgets. My training has taught me to analyze data, solve problems, and make logical and creative decisions.

In addition, I have taught college courses and served as a college trustee, where I participated in all aspects of the governance including finance, academics, and student life. This experience provided me with insight into what our children need to succeed after they leave Hillsborough schools.

3. The single most pressing issue facing our school district is ____ and this is what I intend to do about it:

Whether operating in a global pandemic or not, there really is one big issue: how can we implement a quality educational program while keeping everyone safe with ever-shrinking resources, rising costs, and decreasing aid. I hope the community now understands that we have not been making the necessary investments in our schools to be able to face crises, whether it be a pandemic, and continued cuts in state aid, or an influx of children.

We need to update our facilities. Last fall, I met with the community to educate about the $35 million referendum, which overwhelmingly passed. We are in the first phase of implementing the referendum; we are completing roofs and paving this year and starting and electrical and heating, ventilation, and air conditioning improvements over the next year. Our facilities need much more attention than that referendum will provide. Since being elected to the Board, I have been advocating for budgeting to cap to fund the capital reserve so that we can schedule longer-term projects and implement these projects with state matching funds when possible at little to no cost to taxpayers.

We need to maintain our excellent programs, staff, and extracurricular activities, which is increasingly difficult with current funding by the state and resource limitations. We must encourage the state to devise a fair funding formula, increase reimbursements for special education, and work with our legislators and local government to ensure that schools are not left out of deals that provide payment in lieu of tax dollars to our township government but not to schools.

4. What are other issues you would like to see addressed in the school district?

Other issues that I would like to see addressed include:

  • Full-day kindergarten: Our earliest learners would benefit from full-day kindergarten and our work on the first referendum showed that this program might pay for itself in increased state aid. As such, I would like to find a way to add full-day kindergarten at minimal or low-cost to the taxpayer, as well as pre-K.
  • Expansion of gifted and talented offerings: Prior to sixth grade, the only gifted and talented program offered is REACH, which his really not a gifted in talented program. I believe Hillsborough should be doing better in offering some accelerated, subject-specific courses.
  • Establish a center of excellence for special education: Currently we have 52 special needs students with out-of-district placements at an annual cost of more than $3.5 million in tuition alone—and with no cap on annual tuition increases. I believe our district should develop our program to bring our special education students who are current attending schools out of district back into our district. We can then offer this option to neighboring districts as a cost-saving measure to them and a revenue source for Hillsborough.

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