Jones: Baker and Baker are Clear Choices for South Orange – Maplewood BOE

Editor’s Note: Jones ran on a ticket with Elizabeth Baker in 2014; both were elected.

To the Editor:

I am writing to formally announce what most people already know: I have decided, for personal reasons, not to seek re-election to a second term on the South Orange-Maplewood Board of Education. It is a decision made after much deliberation and with mixed emotions.

It is an honor to be a board member and to fulfill a role that requires one to put children first while asking the tough questions to ensure the district is well-run. It is about understanding process, having constructive dialogue, and setting goals the district needs to be successful. And while I will no longer be sitting in that horseshoe, I am thrilled my friend and colleague Elizabeth Baker, current Board President, will be seeking re-election for a second term. I strongly support Elizabeth in her campaign for re-election to the Board.

I am also excited to announce my support for former Board member Robin Johnson Baker (she served from 1998-2001), who has decided to seek another term. Elizabeth and Robin will campaign together, and my decision to bow out was made immensely easier in the knowledge that Robin, a seasoned former Board member who shares my values, will be running to fill my seat. In a field of nine candidates, Elizabeth and Robin stand out as clear choices.

Robin has a deep knowledge of our school district and has been an active volunteer in the district since leaving the Board in 2001. As the parent of a daughter who attended our schools K-12, Robin is well aware of both the many successes and serious unmet challenges in our district. Robin shares my conviction that our district has an obligation to serve all students well.

Since January of 2016, Elizabeth has been an impressive and dedicated Board President. Her commitment to the district is unwavering. Elizabeth understands the “work” needed to make the district successful. This is evident in her collaboration with Administration and Board Members to ensure effective policy implementation and effective oversight to guide the “work” needed for the district to achieve its goals.

Elizabeth has been a strong advocate for ensuring ALL students are well-served. In particular, she has advocated for setting policies that meet the needs of students in the classroom and athletics, ensured that special education is a priority in the district, sought additional resources for Seth Boyden, bolstered student safety across all schools, and overseen a budget process that serves students and the district in a fiscally responsible manner.

There is so much more that is critical to the role of a Board Member, much of which is beyond the monthly board meetings where you see Elizabeth at the center of the table. It is the behind-the-scenes, day-to-day work not always evident to the casual observer. It is the work that comes from reading and revising hours of policies to make sure the board gets it right. It is the work that comes from reading and answering emails to make sure all voices are heard and that parents can effectively navigate the school system. It is the work that comes from revising numerous budget documents to ensure all options are exhausted.

It is the work that comes from the heart and soul of wanting the district to serve all children well, whatever their needs. It is the work that flows from her deep commitment to sustained systemic change.

Elizabeth Baker and Robin Johnson Baker are passionate about supporting ALL children and families in our community, and have the skills and experience to do so effectively. I urge you to give them your support in November.

Maureen Jones


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