NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ—Incumbent candidate for board of education Benito Ortiz had a lot to say on Thursday’s Meet the Candidate night as he assured the public he and the other incumbents running, Patricia Sadowski and John Krenos, are "doing the things that need to be done in our community."
Ortiz, a lifelong resident of New Brunswick, said he became a city activist when he returned from the army in 1975 and has since been fighting to improve the city. He has been on the board for 16 years but that includes a four-year break after his seventh year when he moved to North Carolina.
The board did tremendous work with the public school system the last nine years, said Ortiz, including construction of a $180 million dollar school, a flat tax levy of $27.3 million, and increases in repairs and renovations for buildings.
The board also applied for and won six grants including VH1 Save the Music and Twenty-One Century grant which gives $500,000 for the next five years, Small Learning Community grant which gives $250,000 for the next five years, Wellness Center grant and Reading First grant which gives $500,000 for the next three years.
Additionally, a solar energy consortium saves New Brunswick's school district $400,000 in energy, Ortiz said.
Ortiz emphasized parent involvement on Thursday night as he believes parent involvement with their child’s life is one of the most important factors to improving graduation rates and reduces gang activity and violence. As the president of the high school PTA and bilingual parent counsel for three years, Ortiz does what he can to get parents in their child’s life.
"I will continue to encourage parent-based organizations, parent activities, and engagement in their students’ academic experience," said Ortiz.
If Ortiz is elected for another term, his top priorities will be school safety and an innovative curriculum. He believes a safe environment allows students and teachers to perform at their best. He emphasizes the importance of seeking a curriculum that will prepare students for their professional goals as well as enhance their skill set.
"Our schools are fine. Our schools are functioning. We have the programs there. We have the staff there. We have a superintendent that is perhaps the best in the state of New Jersey," Ortiz stated his closing statement.
"I never say that our schools are bad, so what I say is let’s improve on what we’ve got," said Ortiz.
Polls are open today from 7 a.m. until 9 p.m. Please visit NewBrunswickToday.com for up-to-date election results this evening.