LETTER: Observing ‘dirty tactics’ convinced me to run for West New York BOE

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In a letter to the editor, West New York Board of Education candidate Nicholas Behncke said “dirty tactics” by the current administration made him decide to run for a seat on the board. Nico Behncke

Dear Editor,

My name is Nicholas Behncke and I am running for West New York School Board in the November 7 General Election.

Until recently, running for the School Board was not a concrete thought in my mind.

However, after seeing the dirty tactics used to pass the shared agreements with the town on the July 3rd special meeting, and after being somewhat involved in West New York politics for the past couple of years I couldn’t sit on the sidelines anymore.

As a father of a talented and unique nine-year-old entering 4th grade here in West New York, and as a graduate of Harry L. Bain and Memorial High School I’ve witnessed for far too long how intertwined politics and education are in our town.

Sadly, I’ve seen how the West New York School Board has become a classroom for the friends of the political establishment while disregarding the needs of our children’s classrooms.

I believe our school district is at a turning point and the leadership of our School Board must work to provide every student in West New York with the best education possible.

West New York has the potential to give our children a top-notch education for the 21st century, and that goes far beyond updating the books and computers in our schools.

We must work toward a more open School Board where parents feel welcomed and heard at the Board’s monthly meetings. I would love to see a direct line of communication between the Board and the PTAs of each individual school.

If your child’s school does not have a PTA, the Board should encourage and help to create one with the goal of getting the community into our schools and our schools out to the community.

One of the biggest issues facing our town today is gentrification and one of its many consequences is the sudden increase of students in our classrooms.

Last September my daughter’s class of fifteen students was divided into three other existing (and already crowded) 3rd grade classes. Her teacher was then reassigned to a new 4th grade class created to declutter the other overpopulated 4th grade classes.

In my opinion that is unacceptable. After careful analysis of every item in its budget and each of its contracts, I firmly believe that with better planning the West New York Board of Education can find the resources to hire more teachers and provide the teachers in our school district with the necessary tools to make a lasting positive impact in our children’s lives.

These and many other issues can be tackled with a fresh and innovative focus on what education means and what the role of schools in our community should be. For that to happen, an independent School Board is imperative.

The West New York School District has the resources (and the enviable teaching staff) to improve the lives of our children. If parents, teachers, and School Board elected officials work together cohesively, we can enhance the learning experience of all our students.

Whether they be in high school, grammar school, middle school, early childhood, ESL, or special education, we must always put our children first. That is why I’m running for the West New York School Board on November 7th.

Sincerely,

Nicholas Behncke