Orange Kids First

GOOD TO GREAT

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I am Jeff Wingfield, and it is essential for student achievement to include the Arts. Besides, students are encouraged to express themselves individually, develop their own identity, garner confidence, social awareness, emotional security, and confidence. The Arts promote presence and friendship; these lifelong skills apply to the theatre and public speaking, self-esteem building, and leadership abilities. Working with Universities, professional outlets, and local, federal, and states grant would cover the cost.

I am a fifth-generation resident of Orange.  I attended Orange schools and graduated from Orange High School.  As a Valley, I am active in the community.  I served on the Youth Employment Training program board, the Rent Leveling Board and the Citizen Budget Advisory Committee.  Due to COVID-19, I have adopted CDC protocols as my home has become a safe haven for after school station for five children whose families struggle with access to technology.  I have family members in Forest Street, Heywood Avenue and Park Avenue Schools.

Dealing with COVID-19 is the most important issue facing Orange public schools.  It has affected every facet of school, family, and community life for students.  The Board must find ways to increase the amount of technology and to expand student access to technology at home and at school. This challenge also extends to assisting parents in the transition to learning from the virtual platform.  Equal funding will be a constant fight that will require the same vociferous advocacy that we mounted in Trenton to secure more school funding and to greenlight our two construction projects.  Finally, we need Board members that possess more technical expertise so that we may avail ourselves of the out-of-the-box measures to secure funding. The most glaring example is when members of our ticket pushed for the New Jersey Tax Court challenge to change the County property tax rate to give more dollars to the board of education. Issues like this are not always at the forefront but they are vitally important. 

The response to COVID-19 has impacted the budget and the district’s budget priorities.  At the same time, the pandemic has also resulted in more funds being available for policy innovations that maximize learning and use of technology.  The current Board president has lacked the vision to pursue any other funding opportunities except for taxes.  The Board must have leadership that will help develop policies that put the District in the forefront of navigating the health restrictions of COVID-19 and the corporate and federal funds will follow.  Policies that deal with creatively using space, technology, teacher and parental support and using the community as a classroom are all poised to attract the attention of funders to help bridge the gap and ease the burden on taxpayers. 

The school district administration has outperformed itself in bridging the divide in our district. We are currently on the threshold of 1 to 1 Chromebook per child, internet access and availability to all students, and curriculum agendas conducive to brick and mortar education.  While we continue those advancements, it is incumbent on the Board leadership to lead in the area of supporting the administrative efforts with policies that expand access to parents and families who are coping with virtual instruction while trying to make a living.  The President has yet to propose any agenda item that calls for some type of home tutor access and has damaged any prospects of University partnerships.  Moving forward the Board should move in unison to ward assuring that we fully support our district under CVID-19 with meaningful policies and initiatives.   

The Board must move on the proposal from community counselors, the police and others to review our discipline policies so that they are not designed to strictly criminalize student misconduct.  The Board President consistently refuses to heed the advice of the experts so that our children get the appropriate counseling, treatment and other services that will help offset some of the negative behavior.  Security officers and resource officers from Orange Police should be focused on more serious matters that happen in school and flow out into the community.  For instances that are caused by the students home environment or other health conditions, there should be separate resources that are already available in the community.  We just need the leadership on the Board to lead and make it a policy item on the agenda.     

 

I bring a unique skill set and union experience to the bargaining table.  I have been in training over the past (6) six years with The New Jersey School Board Association to navigate the negotiations process.  I am also a member of Local American Federation of Teachers Local 1904 Union of Professionals.  And have been trained using material form the AFL-CIO and other national unions.  I have learned the appropriate methods, laws and regulations.  I have reviewed all of the district’s union contracts and I have analyzed the cost and impact on taxpayers.  Most importantly as a Board member and homeowner I understand the balance that must be made during negotiations.  

 

What do I think the district should do moving forward to ensure all students are receiving the support they need to succeed? This broad question requires the simplest answer.  Community support and engagement is essential in the education of our children. Our community is full of talent on every level of the employment spectrum.  The Board has to create engagement policies to get the larger community to buy into their role as community instructors and caretakers of public education.  Our current Board leadership has constructively shutout those in the community who would be a part of public education.  That has to end!  All of us possess essential tools to create a well-rounded, emotional, and ardent student in preparing their future. Not only is it important in the classroom but socially, recreationally, and in the arts.