The fourth time may be the charm for Jersey City Board of Education candidate Gina Verdibello, whose fundraiser was attended by community, city, county and state officials.
“I think the difference between maybe when I first started running and now is that I am not really fighting, I am actually trying to work. Trying to work collectively and that in essence is what a board of education should be,” she stated at her event, hosted at The Brightside Tavern.
Her initiatives from last year’s campaign have broadened to include her concerns on how the now required PARCC testing would affect the graduation rate at Jersey City’s public schools.
Verdibello explained that not “every child tests the same” and PARCC exams can be difficult, so bringing vocational studies back into classrooms can help motivate students to want to stay in school and graduate.
“I also think that if we encourage other areas (of study) that maybe we will have more kids that want to stay in school and be interested, and they are still learning.”
As far as improving the monthly board meetings, she remarked that while the attendance of the meetings has increased, she would like to see sign language included in the translation services.
Verdibello also thinks that sign language should be offered as a course to the students.
And for the children, she would like to see them have more “playtime” and healthier food programs.
Although three years is not a lot of time, she would also like to focus on the healthier eating habits at school.
“It should be something that is healthy and delicious and I am excited about finding that answer.”
And tying in with her campaign from last year are the quality of the facilities.
Verdibello did mention that she would still like to see “state of the art” facilities for the children so that they can play. At the moment, there’s “overcrowding,” “busing,” and in some cases “there’s nowhere for them to play,” she pointed out.
During the fundraiser, Jersey City Board of Education Trustee Lorenzo Richardson referred to her as “one of those people that gets things done.”
Jersey City Ward C Councilman Richard Boggiano stated, “I see Gina all over the place, she is out there, she is for the children and she is going to win this time.”
Jersey City Freeholders Bill O’Dea (D-2) and Gerard Balmir (D-5) both echoed Boggiano’s sentiment, stating that Verdibello has worked tirelessly and attended every board meeting, putting children first. Therefore this year, is going to be her year.
The candidate reminded everyone that her priorities are the children and it’s children first.
“I title myself as a parent advocate because I look out for their well-being and I want to make sure that they get the education they deserve.”
Also in attendance were Hoboken Freeholder Anthony Romano (D-5),Assemblywoman Angela McKnight (D-31), former City Corporation Counsel Bill Matsikoudis, ex-mayoral hopeful Jerry Walker, as well as local activists Dr. Carolyn Oliver-Fair and Yvonne Balcer.
Verdibello also dedicated this year’s campaign to the late D.J. Wise, a Jersey City political activist.