Alison Cogan, CPA

School Board member Alison Cogan

1. What specific academic subject or technology would you most like to see changed or implemented in our schools?

The Board of Education (BOE) is currently working with a Strategic Plan and there are several initiatives within those goals that I am excited to support. The District is researching the possibility of adding an additional world language, and also exploring additional 1:1 technology outside of the high school level.

2. Rank the stakeholders who you feel the Board of Education should be concerned with in order from highest priority (1 is highest priority)  taxpayers, students, teachers, the community at large.

1 – Students 2 – Teachers 3 – Taxpayers 4 – Community at large

3. What about your background makes you feel uniquely qualified to serve on Parsippany’s Board of Education? 

I am a parent of five teenagers who are attending or have attended Parsippany schools.  I am also a CPA in public practice, and a former child daycare owner/director.  I have been on the Parsippany BOE for the past six years, and have attained “Master Board Member” certification, which is a reflection on attendance at board member trainings and workshops. I have consistently used my knowledge as a parent, accountant and former preschool educator to contribute to the Board as a whole. All members of the BOE need to work together to ensure that the District is well run. The value of one member of the BOE is what they can bring to the entire board.

4. What cost efficiency might you propose to curb rising taxes? 

As a member of the BOE’s Finance committee, I understand the need to reduce spending, because there is no additional revenue source. The finance committee and the district administration are always looking for cost savings. There are services out to bid now in the hopes of getting lower cost contracts. Reducing health-care costs is always a priority, and is an issue that is not unique to Parsippany. If re-elected, I will continue to work with my fellow BOE members and Administration on reducing the health care costs to both staff and the District.

5. As previously posted on Parsippany Focus, a petition has been circulating through town and nearly 1,000 people have signed asking for increased busing.  How would you respond to residents? 

I am a member of the BOE’s Transportation committee, which has been asked to look into possible solutions to busing issues raised by residents. The committee is looking into several alternatives and the District has been in contact with the Parsippany Police department regarding this issue. Additional information will be shared through the Transportation committee as part of the Board meeting minutes and notes which can be found on the District website.  While I understand that additional busing might solve some of the issues raised, that is an additional cost that is not built into the budget, and implementing it would impact our goals to find cost efficiencies and curb rising taxes. I look forward to continuing to work with all parties to find solutions that will meet the needs presented without unnecessarily raising taxes.

6. Do you think Parsippany has done enough to address school safety? If not, what specific improvements would you propose?  

Parsippany is fortunate to have a fully-operational and positive shared-services arrangement between the Township Police Department and the school district.  At the most recent BOE meeting, the Director of Security presented a report updating the Board on school safety in our Township.  While there is always more that can be done, I believe Parsippany has a solid safety plan.  We have well-qualified and caring security staff that are constantly working to improve the safety and security of our students and staff.

7. What do you think is best about the Parsippany school system and what do you think could use the most improvement? 

The variety of academic and non-academic programs and opportunities are a strength of the Parsippany school district.  Throughout the district, from elementary school through high school, there are opportunities for academics on any level, and extra-curricular activities in many different areas, including sports, STEM, the arts and service clubs. One area for improvement is social-emotional well-being, which is a district strategic goal. New Jersey School Boards Association just published a report on addressing Mental Health in school districts.  I attended a workshop on this topic recently, and will discuss the report with the BOE and Parsippany District Administration to find what the District can implement that might be appropriate for our students and staff.

8. What non-academic capability do you think is most important for today’s students to learn in preparation for the future, and what is the best way Parsippany can assist them in learning this?

Instilling a love of learning will be very important for today’s students. The jobs of the future will look very different than the jobs of today, and students will need to be flexible and open to learning new skills. Parsippany can assist them by ensuring that every student finds education enjoyable and learns to identify their strengths.

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