Elissa Malespina, the former librarian at South Orange Middle School (SOMS), officially declared her candidacy for the South Orange-Maplewood Board of Education (BOE) Monday night.
Malespina, a 19-year South Orange resident and parent of a 6th-grader in the district, is partnering with Donna Smith, who was the first candidate to officially enter the race.
Anthony Mazzocchi is also a candidate. There are three spots open on the nine-member board this election year; BOE members Sandra Karriem, Andrea Wren-Hardin and Bill Gaudelli recently announced they will not be running for re-election. This is the first time in many years that no incumbents will be on the ballot.
Malespina recently left the district after nine years to take a job as Coordinating Supervisor of Technology for the Parsippany-Troy Hills School District. According to her statement, she has “an extensive understanding” of the South Orange-Maplewood School District’s strengths and “the many issues it faces.”
She continued, “We are at a crossroads in this district and we need a Board of Education that will work for the best interests of the children who we ultimately serve. The only way for things to change is for the BOE to work hard at building relationships with all the stakeholders in the district. We need to move away from what has become an us against them mentality, and find a way for all groups to work together in the best interest of the students.”
Malespina believes the district should not rush the superintendent search and is concerned about the BOE’s stated timetable of hiring someone by January 2015. “A thorough search needs to be conducted and all groups must be heard,” she said.
She also is worried by the looming deficit and thinks the district should consider slowing down implementation of initiatives such as the International Baccalaureate Program. “I believe that while some of the philosophies associated with IB are good and should be added to the curriculum, the costs associated with it are just too much right now, ” said Malespina.
For more details on her platform and background, visit Malespina’s website.
Malespina noted in her statement that while she and Smith disagree on some of the issues, she doesn’t view that as a problem.
“Donna and I are very passionate about doing what is best for the students… We know that we will not always see eye to eye on every issue but will work hard to make SOMSD the best district possible,” she said.
The Village Green has reached out to Malespina for an interview.