Four candidates enter race for 3 seats

By bob fleming



our candidates, including three incumbents and one newcomer, are seeking election to the three available three-year seats on the Roosevelt Board of Education in next month’s annual school board election.

Incumbents Sharlene Ellentuck and David Ticktin, completing their first terms on the board, and Mary Tulloss, who is serving out the remaining time of an unexpired three-year seat, will be challenged by Adrienne Cheshier, who is making her first run for a seat on the board.

Ellentuck, 42, of Pine Drive, an attorney practicing health care law, has resided with her husband and their two children in Roosevelt for nearly six years. The parent of a kindergartner and a fourth-grader at the Roosevelt Public School, she was elected to the board in 1997.

"I enjoy being a school board member and contributing to the community," Ellentuck said. "I’ve been quite involved in the school funding issue and would like to see it through to resolution, hopefully sooner than later."

Ellentuck, who chairs the board’s finance committee, said board members have been working to maintain an exceptional educational system while faced with an overwhelming school tax rate situation.

"In spite of the school tax crisis, school taxes will be going down for the next school year based on our tentative budget," she said. "This was not an easy task, based on the insufficient state aid we received to operate our school district."

According to Ellentuck, the board met recently to establish some long-term goals, that she said she would like to see accomplished during a second term in office.

"Of course, the resolution of our state funding issue is a top priority," she said. "Raising overall student achievement and reviewing the academic placement of our seventh- through 12th-grade students (in the East Windsor Regional School District) are also primary objectives to be met in our long-term planning process."

Ticktin, 48, of Farm Lane, a photographer, has resided with his wife and two children in Roosevelt for 14 years. Both of their children attend the Roosevelt Public School.

First elected to the board in 1997, Ticktin said he is running for re-election for the same reasons he chose to run for a seat on the board three years ago.

"Citizens have a responsibility to step in and take part in the government of their towns," Ticktin said. "It’s a privilege to be able to serve the community and one’s civic duty to do so."

According to Ticktin, the state aid dilemma in Roosevelt is indicative of a funding system that he considers "a sham."

"Virtually every expenditure the school board makes is mandated by the state, with no say by the local school boards," he said. "The state is only willing to fund one-quarter of these mandated expenses, while we must support three-quarters of the total burden. It’s disgusting and a sham."

Ticktin said he often votes against state-mandated expenditures because he feels local government must stand up to the inefficiencies and unjustness of state government and politicians who shift the burden from themselves to the municipalities.

Characterizing the Roosevelt Public School as "wonderful, and what makes the town worthwhile to live in," Ticktin said that if re-elected he would like to continue to improve upon the school’s high level of operation and quality of education for all school children.

"My chief goal is to continue to preserve and defend our school system from attack," Ticktin said. "That means rejecting state mandates that are ridiculous and unfair."

Tulloss, 51, of Lake Drive, a 23-year Roosevelt resident, is currently completing the three-year unexpired term previously held by Michael B. Hamilton, who resigned his seat on the board in December to become Roosevelt’s mayor. She was the only applicant for that seat and was appointed to the board last month.

No stranger to the Board of Education, Tulloss previously served as a board member in Roosevelt from 1982-85, with two years as board president.

"I’m at a crossroads in my life now, having taken early retirement last year from the telephone industry after 29 years in that field," Tulloss said. "I’m planning on entering a new career as a high school teacher in the future, but I have to take some education courses to meet that goal. I guess you could say I’m on sabbatical at the moment."

Tulloss and her husband have a daughter currently enrolled at the Roosevelt Public School.

"I’ve always been involved in doing things for and with children," she said. "Volunteer work in the community has always been important to me, such as my involvement with the Girl Scouts and the school PTA."

Tulloss said she would like to continue the hard work of board members who are focusing on several issues that are important to the entire community.

"I’m working with Dolores Chasan on the letter-writing campaign to our elected officials and the education commissioner regarding the school aid problem," Tulloss said. "We’ve got to address that situation so we can continue to be able to provide the best educational opportunities for our children."

Newcomer Adrienne Cheshier, of Pine Drive, a sales representative, has resided with her husband and their two children in Roosevelt since 1996.

Prior to moving to Roosevelt, she was active in fund-raising activities and curriculum development for a private school in Santa Monica, Calif.

"I recently ran the New Jersey Central Girls Travel Basketball League in this area and co-coached one of the teams," Cheshier said. "Working with children has always been an interest and a priority for me."

Cheshier, who said she spent considerable time in Roosevelt when she was growing up, visiting relatives who resided in the borough, decided to become involved with the Board of Education after taking time to learn about its operations.

"I knew from the start that I wanted to take an active role after I learned more about the board and how it works," she said. "It took a few years, but I didn’t want to jump right in until the time was right, which it is now."

Regarding the state aid issue, Cheshier said she is aware of the magnitude of the problem, but she doesn’t want to sacrifice the quality of education at the Roosevelt Public School for lower taxes.

"I believe there is an answer to the funding problem and it will happen," she said. "The children’s education and their well-being will always be the top priority for me."