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Resume for John P. Driscoll Sr.; Candidate for Gloucester City School Board

Gloucester City School Board Candidate John Driscoll Explains His Reasons for Seeking Office

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(CNBNews.net)--Gloucester City resident John Driscoll announced his candidacy today for the City Board of Education. There are three seats up for re-election.

Driscoll has a Masters of Special Education Degree.  He has six years of substitute teaching experience.

A former member of the Gloucester City Police Department, Driscoll has experience as Gloucester City DARE Officer. Presently he is the current Vice Principal of Holy Name Elementary School in Camden City. 

The election is November 3.

His statement reads as follows: 

For those of you who are not familiar with me I would like to first provide you with a little background information on me and my family before I explain my qualifications and the platform I intend to run on.

I was born in Bellmawr, NJ although my maternal grandparents lived at Third and Orange St. I spent many summer days playing at Proprietor’s Park and running back and forth to Tutties for my Grandmother.  My parents settled in Bellmawr, NJ where they raised 6 children. Five of those children settled in Gloucester City. Their last names are Glassman, Gartland, Long and 2 families of Driscolls. My wife and I met in 1984 and soon became high school sweethearts. We married in 1992 and purchased our home here in Gloucester City that same year. We have 7 children between the ages of 8 and 21. My oldest son is severely disabled and requires around the clock care. Over the past 23 years we have modified our home to accommodate for our large family and his unique needs; but we still live in the same house we purchased all those years ago.

 My wife and I have been involved in the community for many years in many capacities.  I have volunteered for many sports organizations in Gloucester City like the Gloucester City Little League, Carmen Palmiero Basketball and the Gloucester City Soccer Association. In addition to our volunteering for athletic associations in town we also volunteered for years delivering for the “Meals on Wheels” Program of the Salvation Army. In that role we would deliver meals to seniors who are in need. We would deliver the meals right to their homes in Gloucester City and Brooklawn. This year I have also volunteered my time at Urban Promise. In this role I volunteer a few hours a week as a mentor at a wood shop. At the wood shop I have been helping inner city children learn how to build a canoe from scratch and in June we hope to use our canoe at Cooper River Park.

My family and I are members of Saint Mary’s Parish although we attend mass at St. Mary’s and St’ Patrick’s Woodbury, NJ. We typically attend St. Patrick’s on Sunday nights because that is when we have someone available to care for our eldest son. I am also a member of The Knights of Columbus #674.

In reference to my qualifications and intentions I thought I would first start by answering some questions I was recently asked by a few people, who do not know me well. These questions were typically asked when I told them I was considering running for Gloucester City school Board.

Question: “You send your kids to catholic school, why would you want to run and what do you know about public school?”

Answer:

I am a certified public school teacher, with a Master’s in Special Education who is currently enrolled in the Doctorate of Education Program at Wilmington University.

I am the current Vice Principal of Holy Name Elementary School in North Camden, NJ.

My son, Joseph, has been in the public school system of Gloucester City for almost 18 years.

My wife and I grew up Catholic, it is our faith and we both attended catholic school as children including Gloucester Catholic High School (where we first met). We did not come from privileged families. My father worked during the day at the railroad and we, his children, worked with him at night as janitors to pay for school because he thought it was important.

Approximately 18 years ago when our oldest son was diagnosed with Autism we knew he would be attending public school. We decided that all of our children would stay together in the Gloucester City Public School System; but when he was evaluated by the district and we realized that they could not provide him the appropriate  education in Gloucester City and that his Least Restrictive Learning Environment or L.R.E. would mean he would be sent out of district to receive his education we had to reevaluate our decision. At that point my wife and I decided that our only other school age child at the time would go to St. Mary’s with most of her cousins. My son had to attend a school in another city, my wife and I both worked and we wanted our daughter to be with family and learn about her faith, so we chose to send her to St. Mary’s.

I have actually worked in each of our schools (Cold Springs, MEC, Gloucester High) when I was a certified substitute school teacher.

Question: Would you transfer your children who are not in the Gloucester City Public School System into it if you are on the school board?

Answer:

No, currently all of my children are performing very well so I would not want to disrupt their education.

Question: Have you attended GCSB meetings before?

Answer: 

Yes, but only a few

I would estimate that I have attended thousands of hours on learning hours and volunteer hours on education when you combine the I.E.P meetings, seminars, PTO, PTA meetings, undergraduate courses, graduate school courses, parent teacher conferences, back to school nights, in-services, budget meetings, Functional Behavioral Assessment and Child Study Team meetings, standardized test meetings…… 

Question: Have you ever done anything for our schools?

Answer:

Besides everything listed above. My wife and I fought to have the first Alternative Augmentative Communication Device (A.A.C.) made by Dynavox available for student use in Gloucester City. 

 Question: Why are you running? Do you want something?

Answer:

I believe the school district over the last 20 years has made vast improvements and I want to be a part of it. I believe that the current, all-volunteer, school board members have done their best with the budget; especially some of the newer members like William Johnson Jr, whom I have personally known for approximately 15 years  Bill is a good man who is very dedicated to our community and whom I have the ought most respect for. I have had lengthy discussions with him on education, our school district and our city. He is a good man who does not just talk about a problem; but gets involved to fix the problem. I believe we have that in common. I have a lot to offer and will come to the GCSB with a new perspective. First from the perspective of an educator, second as that of a parent of 7 children with multiple abilities and disabilities, third as a Gloucester City tax payer and fourth as an administrator in a different school district.

 I have no ulterior motives for running but to gain knowledge of the system and bring knowledge to it.

 I know many of the school staff personally and am amazed by their professionalism, dedication and work ethic; but unfortunately several years ago I met a staff member for the GCSD child study team who told me that “they only needed to provide my son with an adequate education”. The law actually says that the school districts need to provide our kids with an appropriate education. What I want to say to our parents is I want your child to get the best possible education. I believe most of our staff chose to be involved with our children because they want the same. Our children’s education comes first and the primary tool for providing this is our staff.

 I never want a parent to have to fight for material or equipment that a student needs.

I want to be honest about where I stand on teacher/ staff salaries and benefits I do not believe that a staff member after 5,10,15,20 years should be burdened with a reduction in their benefits if at all possible. I do not believe we should reduce essential staff if at all possible. I believe that we need to protect our honest, dedicated, hardworking staff. I do not want to see us not being able to replace retiring staff with qualified new hires but I would start there before cutting anything to do with cutting existing salaries of public employees. I would also not want to hire staff if we cannot see the need for a long term position or the ability to pay for that position. Prior to disrupting the lives of our current staff by reducing them or their salaries I would want to cut or reduce money spent on outside sources or non-essentials like sneakers and expensive class trips. Technology is a wonderful thing but instead of providing laptops for home use we should use the media center or other school computers more. In addition we could use cell phones more affectively. Cell phones can be a distraction for students and teachers in school; but they can also be an asset. Many of our students have them and they are mini computers. There are several applications or apps that can be used to help teacher and student with school work and assignments.  My current position and previous career experience can provide the school board with a different perspective that maybe just what they need in their move forward to provide the best educational service for our children at the best prices.

I want to enhance our inclusion services. That does not mean placing a child into a classroom that is not the correct setting for their particular needs. It means developing a classroom or classrooms in district which will provide the proper care and meet the student’s educational needs to help our entire Learning Disabled and/or Behavior Disabled child meet their educational objectives. This will save the district a large amount of money and it will continue to do this for years to come. Sending a “special needs” or exceptional student out of district can cost twice as much if not more than keeping a student in district. This can mean upwards of $20,000 per student. Statistics show us that disability rates are increasing and we need to prepare for this by having proper programs set up in-district to provide our students with their LRE and at a much cheaper cost. “Prevalence has increased by 6-15 percent each year from 2002 to 2010”. (Based on biennial numbers from the CDC). We need to recognize statistics like these and prepare.

We also need to recognize the affect school choice has on us like several of our students leaving the district to go elsewhere and less students coming into our high school from Brooklawn. This has been going on for years and the trend is most likely not going to change.

 Also I believe in weekly, monthly and quarterly assessments. I can even appreciate yearly assessments that are appropriate and that serve educational needs, help us meet educational objectives and help us to monitor a student’s progress; but weeks of testing that is not appropriate testing I cannot encourage or agree too. Nor do I favor the use of multiple tests in a year. 

If you do not agree with my qualifications or my intentions then obviously you do not need to vote for me; but if I receive a majority vote than I believe what I stand for is wanted by the people of this city and I will do my best to accomplish that.

Driscoll's resume is here 

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