Bayonne Board of Education candidate Gina Irizarry, an educator and entrepreneur, believes inclusivity would strengthen the current board and prepare it for the increase of students coming into the district due to ongoing development projects.
“We are obviously going to have the need for a stronger district to support more students that are coming in,” explained the candidate seeking a three-year term.
Irizarry believes that board meetings can be more inclusive by creating subcommittees so that more business owners, parents, grandparents and Bayonne residents can be stakeholders in the decision making process and planning of programs, developments and activities within the district.
More importantly, if subcommittees were created, she believes there were would be more transparency during the board meetings, rather than board members frequently excusing themselves to hold a discussion “behind closed doors.”
As far as the teachers’ contract is concerned, Irizarry, a teacher stated”I feel their pain.”
“There is constant adversity with payments and STEPS. You can see why the teachers are leaving. They should get their cost of living increase and they should be advancing in STEPS. Every time the contract negotiations fail, they are being set back, so they are at a stalemate.”
Irizarry states that a new wave of elected board members in November would help move the contract negotiations forward.
With her business experience and creative background as a photographer, she feels she can help bring creative ideas “to make sure that our teachers are happy, whether it’s seeking out more grants for the district.”
The candidate is also seeking to bring inclusivity with the new academies in the district, especially with the Performance Arts Academy and the vocational schools.
Irizarry recounts the other school that she has worked with through the Middle States Association where students can take classes within the smaller academies.
She also disagrees with Bayonne BOE Trustee Theodore Garelick’s concern that the loss of experienced members in November will have a negative impact on the board, particularly since the board voted not to renew Bayonne Superintendent of Schools Patricia McGeehan’s contract.
“Mr. Garelick, I think that’s silly,” she stated. “ … I think with the new wave of new elected board members in November we should move forward in a great direction.”
There are four seats up for election on November 8, one, one-year term and three, three-year terms.