As a 28-year-old single guy with no kids, a politics and public policy aficionado who has interned at jobs in New York and worked on political campaigns in New Jersey, a Rutgers dual graduate degree student in public policy and business, Adam Sherman might be expected to spend his limited spare time unwinding at trendy restaurants and music concerts in New Brunswick and New York.
In fact, his hangout often is the Highland Park Middle School meeting room. His not-so-trendy meal may consist of bottled water or a Diet Coke and a full plate of controversial issues affecting the lives of all Highland Park residents, young and old. The music he listens to is in the form of a cacophony of passionate voices belonging to residents, school teachers, school administrators, school staff and school board members discussing the well being of the children.
Adam Sherman is the president of the Highland Park School Board and the longest tenured member of the school board, but the youngest member, having been elected in 2006 when he was only 19 years old. His goal is to get all the voices in the community working together as a fine-tuned orchestra when it comes to school issues – in concert for the good of the students and the taxpayers. As a fourth generation resident of Highland Park, and a recent graduate of the Highland Park public school system, he feels that even though he has no children in the system, the fact that he graduated in 2004 is an asset because he has such recent, firsthand experience with the strengths and weaknesses of the district.
Right now, he and his colleagues are grappling with several weighty issues, including the selection of the new superintendent, budget constrained by dwindling state aid and increased curriculum demands, charter school conundrum, standardized testing, infrastructure and technology, common core curriculum.
“Highland Park, like communities all across our state, faces immense challenges as we seek to best prepare our students for their future. Reductions in state aid have presented us with critical decisions as we seek to maintain the quality of our public schools. Sometimes in the face of the enormous budget challenge and being reactive to the different monetary crises thrown at us, we lose sight of how to be proactive – how to live up to our the ongoing responsibilities of closing the achievement gap, improving programs for students with diverse educational needs and modernizing how we teach so that our children are prepared for the future.”
Specifically, he thinks that Highland Park schools are very good, but lagging behind in technology. The technology lag in the schools produces haves and have-nots – the “haves” coming from socio economic situations that can provide the latest technology versus the “have-nots” whose situations are unable to provide hyper connectivity and technological sophistication.
Adam is pleased with the district’s successes in the area of communication—particularly instituting communications and media initiatives to educate the public, better coordinate board of education processes and policies, and improve public relations efforts across the district.
Please note: The formal budget hearing and adoption of the final budget takes place at the April 20th school board meeting. Property tax revenue to the schools is $23.7 million in a total revenue budget of $28.4 million. The total expense budget is $28.8 million.