As Election Day nears, Lacey Patch is profiling the candidates for the Board of Education. Please come back to Lacey Patch for more profiles in the coming weeks.
- Candidate Name: Regina Discenza
- Age: 51
- Address: Sunrise Beach, Forked River
- Occupation: Stay at home mom
- Marital Status: Married 23 years with two sons
Regina Discenza has run for school board for the past eight years.
As an active resident in a town of approximately 28,000, Discenza became involved when she heard Home Depot was coming to town.
“That was when I began to pay attention to Lacey Township,” she said, adding her concerns about traffic.
That’s when Discenza started to summon records on the Home Depot project.
“OPRA is a great tool for any citizen who wishes to verify public information,” she said.
But why school board rather than township Committee, where she is also one of the few who consistently makes her voice heard?
“The school district controls more tax dollars than the committee,” she said.
When Discenza voted in her first school board election after moving to Lacey in 1999, she noticed there were no choices, just incumbents, she said.
When asked why keep running if she has yet to be elected, Discenza responded, “Because no one else does! There’s no point in having elections if there are no choices!”
On Tuesday, Nov. 6, Discenza will be listed on the ballot with incumbents Vice President Eric Schubiger and Maureen Tirella.
Discenza has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Criminal Justice from John Jay College plus a minor in business management and accounting. She also has 12 credits beyond the degree in special education, taught briefly in New York and worked for the Board of Education as an investigator.
A stay at home mom since 1994, Discenza has been “retired” ever since but an “active parent” with two sons — one who graduated from the Marine Academy of Technology and Environmental Science with a full four-year scholarship to the Richard Stockton College of New Jersey and an eighth-grader at Lacey Middle School.
“I’m over 18, speak, read and write English and I’m a citizen,” she said. “I live in my District over 10 years, am a registered voter and hold no other office. I believe those are the basic qualifications noted by the New Jersey School Board Association.”
Discenza added that she has no conflicts of interest but believes three sitting board members with family working within the district do.
The major issues facing the school district are “constantly rising taxes,” she said.
“As for the recent $4.1 million plus in budget transfers, this clearly indicates the Board has significantly more money than it needed,” she said. “No matter how it occurs or what they use it for, clearly the taxpayers have put in more than necessary—and then on top of that, the board passes a tax increase.
“If zero based budgeting was used, this would not happen,” she said. “Our board continually builds upon the previous budget, thus creating their own windfalls.”
Also, enrollment is down but taxes continue to rise.
“Enrollment is down significantly and seems to have no impact on the budget,” she said. “Jobs keep getting created and student achievement remains the same as it has been.”
Discenza anxiously awaits the results of the state investigation of the district’s solar panel project, she said.
“Yes, it was very necessary to go green and get a handle on the district’s $100,000+ monthly electric bills, but I was very unhappy with the pricing and the financing of this project,” she said.
She feels a job audit of the district needs to be done.
“A few years ago, Mr. Palino had mentioned he would like to see a job audit in the district. I thought this was an excellent idea. But to date it’s never been done because no one wants to see their friends or family lose a job,” she said.
A job audit could prove to be “enlightening.” Some jobs must overlap and people can be cross-trained, Discenza said.
“The Lacey BOE, I believe, currently employs more people than the power plant,” she said.
Discenza would also like to bring attention to the district’s parent portals to encourage parents’ involvement in student achievement, she said.
“While Lacey does have significant parent involvement, there are many students lacking parental supervision of their schoolwork/activities,” she said. “With the new technology and the parent portals, people should find it easier to check and see that their kids are doing homework and be sufficiently warned of possible failure.
“Student success can only be achieved if it is fostered within the home. It is not the sole responsibility of the School District,” she said.