Kathie Schwartz is running for re-election to the Franklin Lakes Board of Education. A Franklin Lakes resident for 14 years, Schwartz was raised in Hawthorne, and has a bachelor's in accounting from Rutgers and an MBA from NYU.
"After getting married and living in NYC for a short time I returned to New Jersey and settled in Franklin Lakes," Schwartz said. "My parents were raised in Wyckoff and Midland Park, so I have a long family history in this area."
Schwartz, 46, is currently a stay at home mom and community volunteer.
Prior to that she spent 13 years in the banking and finance industry, and was a managing director at Deutsche Bank with global responsibilities in its Private Client and Asset Management group.
She is the co-president and a former president of the Franklin Lakes Newcomers & Neighbors Club, a member of the Woodside Avenue School PTA, and The Valley Hospital Auxiliary (Franklin Lakes Branch.)
Schwartz volunteers for Paramus-based Children's Aid and Family Services, a leader in adoption and specialty therapeutic services for children who have been severely traumatized and abused, and Oasis, a shelter for impoverished women and children in Paterson.
She and her husband, Wade, have three children in Woodside Avenue School
Why do you believe you're a good fit for the Board of Education?
My background is in accounting and finance and I have a strong grasp on the fiscal realities and budget challenges we face. At the same time I am a long time resident with children going through the school system. I am passionate about Franklin Lakes ability to be a top tier school district and a model for other districts. While my own children are currently enrolled in our schools, I am mindful of the fact that many residents do not utilize our school system and yet seek to use the strong schools to support their property values. I plan to stay in Franklin Lakes long after my children have passed through the schools and want to keep the taxes low. In the fourteen years I have been in this community, I have consistently taken an active role in our community life, be it through Franklin Lakes Newcomers and Neighbors Club, school and PTA activities, and local charitable organizations. I believe I have a skill set which can benefit our community and I believe in giving back to my community.
In addition to the business skills and financial background that I bring to the table, I have been on the Board of Education for the past four and a half years. I have run twice already, once for a one year term, then a three year term. Experience counts. I have been the Board President for the past two years, and was Vice President and Finance Committee chair in the prior year. In addition to my role as Board President, I have been on all of the Board Committees including personnel, negotiations, finance, operations, community relations, curriculum, policy, and legislative, and I have served on several district wide committees including multiple administrator search committees, the homework committee and efficiency study committee. I was on the Board’s negotiating team for the two recent teacher contracts and most recent administrators contract. My knowledge of the rules, regulatory framework, financial structure and contract limitations give me a deep knowledge of our district to apply to the decisions the Board makes on behalf of the community, and I believe I am a valuable contributor the board’s decision making processes.
If you could commend the current board on one thing they've recently done, what would it be?
I am very proud of the work the Board has done to support the strengthening our curriculum and preparing our district for the implementation of the new Common Core State Standards. We have been able to allocate resources to improve programs and better utilize technology to support both our students and our teaching staff. At the same time the board has delivered budgets below the state mandated cap, and had returned significant unspent funds to taxpayers at the end of each of the past three years.
If you could criticize the current board for one thing they've recently done — or haven't done — what would it be?
As the current Board President I don’t feel I am in a position to 'criticize' the board for anything they have done or not done. Our board meets twice a month, and I have experienced the personal commitment, independent research, thought and effort that goes into the each decision that each board member makes on behalf of our community. If I had to come up with something that Board could have done better recently I would say public relations. There has been a tremendous amount of good work that has gone on in our district in the past two years in laying the groundwork to prepare us for the massive curriculum changes that we face due to NJ’s adoption of the new Common Core State Standards. Many in our community are not aware of the level of commitment on behalf of our board, administration and teachers to prepare our district for this. I believe our district is positioned well ahead of others in NJ for the upcoming challenges, and I would like to see us better inform the community of the magnitude of this success.
Should you be re-elected, what is on the top of your list of goals for the board of education?
My goal is to make Franklin Lakes a cutting edge school district that is a magnet to draw residents to our town and support our property values, that provides a world class education to every student we serve, and that stays fiscally responsible and well within the 2 percent tax cap. I have been working toward that goal for the last four and a half years, and I will continue that course.
Why should Franklin Lakes residents should vote for you on Nov. 6?
I have been on the Franklin Lakes Board of Education for the past four and a half years. In that time we have been fiscally responsible and kept taxes low. Last year’s budget was delivered with almost no tax increase (0.07 percent), unlike other districts we had no program cuts and in fact many program enhancements.
The Board has negotiated for solid employment contracts which include contributions to health care premiums and introduction of merit based pay. The Board has supported implementation of new programs such as Singapore Math and a new Language Arts program which aligns to the new Common Core State Standards; curriculum which raises the bar for our students and increases the integration of technology into our classrooms.
I believe I have represented all constituent groups at the table as I have advocated for strengthening our curriculum, increasing accountability, and strong fiscal responsibility. I am an independent thinker, but also a person who prides myself on collaboration and teamwork to reach our common goals. I have invested significant time in educating myself on the issues which our schools face, and in investigating alternatives and solutions. I am willing to think outside the box and to make tough decisions, to maintain a very high level of academic excellence with the strong fiscal prudence that our taxpayers expect.
Have a question or news tip? Contact editor Joseph M. Gerace at Joseph.Gerace@patch.com, or find us on Facebook and Twitter. For news straight to your inbox every morning, sign up for our daily newsletter.