Mark Gallo, Sean Hengst, Scott Owens, Wendy Witzel and Judith Young will come before the school board on Monday, March 17 for the second round of interviews in the library at the Charles W. Lewis School. Interviews are set to begin at 5:30 p.m., followed by the regular board meeting at 7:30 p.m.
The five candidates were chosen from among 13 candidates who were interviewed Monday night at the Charles W. Lewis School.
Each candidate was asked if they were qualified, why they wanted the job and what they viewed as the role of a Board of Education member.
Witzel has two special needs children in the district. She’s worked with children who have special needs at Camden County College for 20 years and also worked at the Community College of Philadelphia.
“As a parent, we need more voices in the district to make the right differences,” Witzel said during her public interview. “I’m frustrated. The district needs to do a better job.”
Owens doesn’t have special needs children, but he does have a 3-year-old who will be in the district eventually.
“I want to make sure he gets the best possible education,” Owens said. “(The role of a school board member) is to have empathy and a willingness to speak with residents, to make the best decisions for the children.”
Gallo graduated from Highland Regional High School, is on the Field of Dreams committee, participates in the Gloucester Township Relay for Life, president of the Rotary Club and coaches soccer, little league and other sports.
“I am passionate about the town I live in,” Gallo said. “I have three kids, two in the district, and a good relationship with the other parents. I think I’d be a good addition in general.
Both Younger and Hengst spoke of new educational standards facing children and teachers in the 21st century.
“With all the federal and state responsibilities and the new teacher evaluation system, I want to be a part of the new policy and the fiscal responsibility,” Younger said.”(The role of a school board member) is fiscal oversight and to make sure the children are ready for 21st century work.”
Hengst is a lifelong township resident who has children in the district. He ran for the board in May, and pursued a position again following Andrew Lalli’s resignation in November.
He spoke about the Common Core Standards and the excitement he felt when a school board member came to read to his class for Read Across America.
Hengst was one of the candidates who was passed over when Pearce was chosen by the board in December.
Pearce was sworn in less than a week later, drawing the fire of critics from the public who questioned the speed of his appointment, the swearing in and his credentials.
Pearce served for two meetings before being disqualified upon the state Department of Education’s completion of his background check. It remains unknown why Pearce was eventually disqualified.
One candidate, Richard Bobbe, broached the subject during his public interview Monday night.
“When I look at the current board, it’s important to have people who make efficient use of the board’s time and money, and someone who will act with integrity,” Bobbe said. “ … Simple things aren’t getting done right, so how do you expect the public to trust you when it comes to getting complicated things right? (The role of a board member) is to be non-political and to ask ourselves is this in the best interest of the school and our children.
“The board should provide teachers and administrators with what they need and to get out of the way.”