Andy Choffo and Robert Quinn

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

a) The Parsippany-Troy Hills School District in consistently ranked among the best school districts in the State of New Jersey. We are currently ranked the 28th best school district in New Jersey and #2 in Morris County (according to niche.com). We need to continue to encourage and challenge all students to achieve to their potential. We favor increasing our Advanced Placement course offerings while focusing on the basics of reading, writing and arithmetic. We believe that the District should continue its already strong performance in preparing graduates for college or career.

b) Our schools have done an excellent job in implementing technology in the classroom and preparing today’s children for the economy of tomorrow. As technology rapidly changes, we should look into new programs for teachers, parents, and students that help break the walls between the classroom and the home, and leverage our technology to increase transparency. We should also seek to fine-tune technology currently in-use to increase productivity and keep kids on task with programs such as GoGuardian.

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.

a) Students are the District’s #1 priority. We are responsible for the student’s health, safety and development while they are in our charge, and even after they leave us and go home. From the District’s Mission Statement: “The mission of the Parsippany-Troy Hills Township School District, in partnership with families and the greater community, is to challenge and nurture all students academically and to develop confident learners who are compassionate, generous, appreciative, and invested in their diverse world. This will be accomplished through innovative opportunities that inspire life-long learning, critical thinking and problem solving, creative exploration, and the democratic collaboration among students and staff.” We believe in this mission and act to support it.

The District’s other stakeholders are also extremely important. We take into account how the actions of the Board of Education impact all residents, whether they be property owners or renters, residents with children in school or seniors, faculty and staff. We do not believe in ranking one stakeholder over another.

b) The Board’s number 1 priority and mission is to provide the best education possible to our students. Teachers are an integral part of that mission. Our taxpayers also play an important role, as they’re the ones who ultimately foot the bill, and we must ensure that we are good stewards with the money entrusted in us while at the same time allowing students and teachers to perform efficiently and effectively. The community at large also plays a big role, as they encourage and promote student achievement through events such as Redstock and co-curricular activities. All of these groups form together to continue to make Parsippany “the place to be”

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

a) For Robert Quinn: “As a graduate of Parsippany High School, I believe that my perspective as a recent graduate will add to and strengthen the perspective of the Board of Education to make the best decisions possible. I want to ensure our students receive the best education possible in a fiscally prudent way.”

b) For Andy Choffo: “I believe that my background in business and 12 years of service as a Parsippany Board Member combine to allow me to ensure that the district is well-run.”

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

a) We believe that the District is extremely well-run financially. We will continue to ensure that the District is offering a competitive, yet cost-effective compensation package to all staff; that our costs to maintain buildings and grounds are spent prudently; and that we always keep in mind that we are spending tax-payer dollars when approving expenditures.

b) During this campaign, Andy and I have spoken to many residents and heard their concerns, and the number 1 issue for residents has been the crushing taxes that many feel are pushing them out of a town and state they have called home for so long. The Board must work with our state legislators to ensure that Parsippany schools receive proper funding. I hope to use the relationships I have forged with elected officials at all levels of government to make this a reality.

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?

a) We have spoken to many of the residents that are passionate about expanding the transportation that is provided by the District to include neighborhoods outside of the state-mandated limits. We will continue to listen to their ideas, and where possible, include them in the process to find a workable solution. The Board’s Transportation Committee is currently reviewing options, working with the Parsippany Police Department and will provide their findings in the near future. We pledge to make this a priority for the Board to resolve.

b) Over the past several months, Andy and I have listened to their concerns and have explored possible solutions with them. We must do our best to mitigate potential hazards before it is too late. We are committed to working with parents, hearing their concerns, and get them a seat at the table.

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

a) On October 17, 2019, Director of Security and Parsippany Police Department Captain Jay Wieners, stated, “Parsippany’s schools are no longer soft targets.” We agree with Captain Wieners. The District has invested heavily in school security. Processes and procedures have been revised. Security experts have been engaged. Students and parents are being informed. Buildings continue to be “hardened.” We believe that student and staff safety is the #1 priority of the District and will work towards further improvements.

b) While the Board and our amazing police officers have done an excellent job at improving safety, there is always more that can be done. A school can never be too safe. We can expand the use of Class III officers and other means to provide a safer environment in a cost-efficient way. The Morris County Sheriff’s office has done great work in attempting to identify threats before they can occur, and I would love to collaborate with Sheriff Gannon and the Parsippany Police Department to start a “see something, say something” campaign within the classroom. School safety is more than just providing a secure and loving learning environment; we want our children to be safe from the time they leave their home in the morning to head to school, to the moment they walk in the door. After speaking with numerous residents about the bussing problems, it is clear we must analyze and assess the problem and react accordingly.

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

a) We believe that the strength of the District is its people. We have dedicated administrators, faculty and staff that care deeply about our students. Education is a “people business”, and Parsippany has some of the best people in public education right here in our town.

b) The greatest thing about our town is that we are a large community made up of so many different races, religions, and cultures. Our schools bring all those communities under one roof, cementing Parsippany as a melting pot of different cultures. While the district is one of the best in Morris County, there is always room for improvement. We should look to optimize existing procedures, such as pick up and drop off, to make our schools safer and more efficiently run.

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?

a) The world can be a tough place. We want our graduates to be successful in whatever dream they decide to pursue. To that end we must provide opportunities in the curricula for kindness and conscience; civics and civility; equality and competition; morality; motivation; self-reliance; hard-work and; interpersonal and communication skills.

b) In a society where smart phones and social media rule our lives, it is imperative that we prepare today’s students for tomorrow’s workforce. We should look into implementing public speaking classes and expand on other courses that improve the social skills of the students. In addition, we should also explore possibly adding to our language program and continue to build bridges between the different cultures and communities throughout the township.

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