MOORESTOWN, NJ — When voters cast their ballots in the Nov. 3 elections, they will be asked to choose three people from a field of six to serve on the Moorestown Public School District’s Board of Education.
Patch asked each candidate to answer questions to give voters information about who they are and their stances on various issues. We are printing their responses in full, unedited except for spelling or punctuation. Below are the responses from incumbent Board Member Lauren Romano.
Previous elective office, if any
Moorestown Board of Education 2017-present
Does anyone in your family work for the school district or in politics?
Bachelor’s degree in Social Studies Education and Teacher of Students with Disabilities certification
Special education teacher and department supervisor at a private school
Why are you seeking a seat on the school board?
My experience, passion for education, and commitment to the community are why I am running for reelection.
The single most pressing issue facing our school district is _______, and this is what I intend to do about it.
Adapting the District to meet the challenges and opportunities of the pandemic, which encompasses so many areas from operational to curricular to financial. During this crisis, I will continue to make decisions putting the safety and well-being of all our students and staff at the forefront. Additionally, I will require district accountability for delivering the best possible education to all our students, seek measurable metrics as we evaluate our plan and best practices, promote social and emotional learning for our students and staff, and monitor financial impacts of pandemic related expenses and revenue lost.
What are the critical differences between you and the other candidates seeking to serve on the school board seat?
My years served on the Board as well as my professional background in education is a critical difference between myself and the other candidates. There is a big learning curve when someone joins the Board, but by coming in with the knowledge of the laws of public education and the limitations of a board member makes a big difference, especially during a pandemic. Understanding the boundaries of the role of a board member is critical to success as a board member. It is essential to have a good working relationship with the Superintendent to carry out important initiatives. Additionally, I have been proudly serving as Burlington County School Board Vice President since December 2019. Serving in this position benefits the District and is a unique facet of my candidacy. While in this position, I have gained valuable experience by attending state leadership meetings, collaborating with board members around the state and advocating on behalf of our students and District on a host of issues.
Describe the other issues that define your campaign platform.
School funding and student equity are two other major issues that define my campaign. For the past 10 years, the Moorestown School District has been under aided by the state of New Jersey. The school funding formula and our state’s recent history of district distribution of aid are complicated and have significant implications for students all across the state. Educating our community about both our District’s state funding disparity and its cumulative effects has been an important priority during my time on the Board. I believe it is essential for our community to become more educated about the funding crisis at the state level and work together to increase our District’s advocacy on this issue. The spotlight on racism, social inequalities and implicit biases at the national level has shown that there is work to be done within our District. After listening to student experiences, staff and community concerns, I proposed the Board create an equity committee to better address these issues collectively. I am very proud the Board established the Exploring Race and Racism Committee. This committee will help ensure that the District more closely examines and addresses racism with a holistic approach. I know there is still much more work needed to be done in both of these areas and hope for the opportunity to continue this work.
What accomplishments in your past would you cite as evidence you will be effective on the school board?
I am proud of my record on the Moorestown BOE. I currently serve as chairperson of the Curriculum Committee, Communication Committee member, and the Board’s Legislative Liaison.
In 2017, I ran to improve district communications, including more community feedback, ensure fiscal responsibility and advocate for all students. During the past three years, I am proud the Board began hosting BOE Community Engagement Forums to increase dialogue between the Board, school district and community. Topics of the Forums have been varied, including school safety, social and emotional learning needs of our students and ways we can increase advocacy around state funding for our District. As another way to improve communication, I have been very intentional with detailed communications to the Board and the public as Curriculum Chair during my monthly reports.
As already outlined in the previous question, I have been focused on understanding the issues surrounding school funding, advocating on behalf of our District and working to increase community engagement on this issue. Prior to COVID-19, I believe one of the greatest challenges facing our school budget annually has been underfunding from the state. Last February, I was encouraged that so many community members attended the Board of Education’s Community Engagement Forum on Funding Advocacy. In March, I was proud to vote “yes” on the Board resolution to join the Fair Funding Action Committee, a coalition of under aided districts advocating collectively for equity of school funding. Over the past few months, I have appreciated the receptive nature of our state representatives when meeting with them to discuss school funding.
As a special education teacher, I focus daily on meeting the individual needs of all of my students. As a board member, I believe this perspective is invaluable and the lens through which I make my decisions. As a school board member, you have to keep in mind the numerous needs of different types of students and various demographics that make up our community. It is imperative to demonstrate the ability to listen and evaluate differing opinions to collaboratively come up with equitable decisions. As a member of the Board’s Strategic Goal Committee, I advocated strongly for goals and benchmarks that reflected the needs of all of our students. I am particularly proud of the World Class Learner and Social Emotional Learning goals the District adopted. While on the Curriculum Committee, I have advocated for all learners and looked for ways to improve the diversity of course of study for students. I am proud the high school added American Sign Language to their program of studies during my tenure.
What else would you like voters to know about yourself and your positions?
As a sixth-generation Moorestownian, a Moorestown High School graduate and a mother of two children currently attending the high school, I am committed to maintaining our town’s strong educational standards and reputation. I firmly believe the greatest investment any community can make is in the education of all its youth.
The best advice ever shared with me was
One of my favorite quotes is by Theodore Roosevelt: “It is not the critic who counts, not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena.” In Brene Brown’s book, Daring Greatly, she shares her perspective on how to carry out the spirit of this quote in one’s everyday living: “…to possess the courage to show up and be heard.” This advice has influenced my actions in many ways over recent years. When I first decided to run for the Board, I saw improvements that I thought could be beneficial to the District. Given my understanding of the community and education, I believed I could make a difference. By overcoming my fears and the uncertainty, I was able to step into the arena and follow the advice from Brene Brown.