Candidate Statement: Kendra Von Achen

Kendra Von Achen (File Photo)

I am Kendra Von Achen and I would like to earn your vote for the Board of Education position.

I have two kids – my daughter, Lily is ten and my son, Robbie is five. Both attend Northvail Elementary. Now that my son is in Kindergarten, and I’m not dealing with pre-school, two different pickup times and locations, I felt it was the right time for me to get more involved in our school community.  I give back to the community as much as I can.  I’ve been on the board of a non-profit here in Morris County for over 7 years; I’m involved with my Temple; I’ve been on the PTA since moving to town; and help out as Cookie Mom to my daughter’s Girl Scout troop.

In my professional life, I work for a technology consulting company called Fortimize, implementing database solutions to mid-size and large financial companies. My role as Relationship Manager requires me to provide high-quality customer service to our clients. It also requires me to provide creative solutions, making clients think about how they operate in a different way than they did before.  Prior to working at Fortimize, I created and ran my own consulting company for 8 years, wearing many hats every day.

If elected to the Board of Education, I have four key issues I’d like to address – communication, safety, budget, and bullying.  We all know the budget is a key issue our district is facing today, as our Board is currently negotiating with the teachers for a new contract. Costs continue to increase year after year, and it is impacting the teachers, students, infrastructure and programs within our district.  I am already researching options to bring new and innovative ideas to the district to better address these cost challenges. We need to ensure the programs our children have are not cut due to budget constraints.  But we also need to balance that with maintaining the amazing teachers and staff we have in town, and reducing the need to increase taxes due to higher expenditures.

Like so many other families, this is one of the key reasons my husband and I decided to move to Parsippany. Our high-ranking schools are a byproduct of the strong teaching and the dedicated work of the students and parents alike. With almost 65% of our property tax dollars going to the education budget, we must work hard to make sure the money is spent wisely and that our taxpayers feel they’re getting value out of living here.

Parsippany has one of the best school systems in the area, even the state.  We’ve been highly ranked across various publications for several years in a row.  We live in a desirable town due to the school district and tax rate.  Some may say there’s not much that needs to be done because we’re in such great shape. I say there’s always room for improvement.

There are economic challenges our district continues to face that are not going to disappear anytime soon. In the past couple of years, we’ve added School Resource Officers to the budget due to the increase in school shootings across the country. These were not planned budgetary line items until they needed to be. We didn’t have years to set aside money. Our infrastructure is aged, and we need to continue to maintain the schools and make improvements to them. Some schools are facing classroom shortages and high student to teacher ratios due to increased demand for enrollment. With the success of our school system and the continuing growth of our town, these problems are likely to become a greater burden.

Further, I believe in open communication in all aspects of my life, and if elected to the Board of Education, I will work to include that here too. As I’ve been getting out to connect with the community during this election period, I’ve been having conversations with the community about their concerns with the school system. I welcome these open conversations and hope to have many more of them in the future. I would love to see more people attending Board of Education meetings, getting involved in the growth of our programs.

I look forward to working with the 8 other members of the Board of Education and our Superintendent Dr. Sargent on fostering creative solutions to today’s problems we face, as well as ways to further expand and enhance on our successes.  As I stated earlier, I have two kids in early stages of their education here in Parsippany.  I have a long-term investment in both the education system AND property taxes for this town.

I ask for your vote on Tuesday, November 6 to place me on the Board of Education to serve you and the students of this district.

To reach Kendra email or visit on Facebook by clicking here.

Editor’s Note: This candidate statement was submitted to Parsippany Focus from Board of Education Candidate Kendra Von Achen.