ESU Student and Professor Team Up to Win Local School Board Elections: Both Look Forward to Making Needed Changes

Photo Courtesy/ Dr. Cem Zeytinoglu Alexander Reincke, Dr. Cem Zeytinoglu, Jim Burke, and Tameko Patterson make up the Clean Slate campaign team.

By Laura-jean Null

Staff Writer

Local elections were held Nov. 7, and East Stroudsburg University’s very own communications professor Dr. Cem Zeytinoglu and student Alexander Reincke won seats on the Stroudsburg Area School Board.

The candidates teamed-up with Jim Burke and Tameko Patterson.

All four of them won together with their campaign called the Clean Slate.

“I was very, very happy. Frankly, I thought the election was going to be a much closer affair than it turned out to be; the opposition had outspent us by insane amounts. I’ve been working towards this since my senior year of high school, and my fellow running mates in The Clean Slate provides constant mutual support and allowed for victory,” said Reincke about winning the campaign.

Zeytinoglu said, the Clean Slate slogan was a, “symbolic reference for a new start, with fresh ideas, to old problems”.

He went on to explain his goal in office.

His colleagues and himself are planning to establish broken channels on communication between stakeholders, the school board, the teacher’s union, parents and students and the surrounding community.

“As far as plans go, there needs to be an immediate revival of committees. The current board (the ones we are replacing) got rid of these committees, which allowed for dialogue between the board and faculty. I largely attribute the axing of these committees to the overtly hostile relationship that has developed between SASD’s faculty and the board. I also want to involve students in the process, and if possible, include their voices to a greater extent,” said Reincke.

“I was really excited and happy for Cem and the team he is on. I know a lot of work and passion went into his campaign and it was really rewarding to see all the hard work paid off,” said junior Dana Coppola, who was the social media director/manager for the Clean Slate campaign.

Furthermore, Zeytinoglu mentioned there is tension around teacher’s contracts.

With that, Zeytinoglu said he wants to ensure the quality of education is maintained.

“Changes that need to be made are many; the teachers have operated without a contract for far too long. Negotiations had stalled because of the past attitudes of the board. Next, class sizes have ballooned under their watch. I plan on tackling this as soon as possible. Large class sizes lead to a drop in the quality of education, and after negotiations are settled, this is the biggest issue I will tackle,” said Reincke.

Zeytinoglu wants to set in a specific plan to deal with financing for schools in the district.

He goes on to explain that Pennsylvania school districts do not get enough state money.

Saying the funding is, “30 percent or lower in our district.”

He mentions that when there are money cuts, the wealthier districts will be fine, but some of the other districts cannot afford cuts.

Also,  Zeytinoglu described wanting a referendum, to open doors for reforming school taxes and that is what him and his Clean Slate team plan to accomplish in the future.

The Clean Slate ran under the democratic party, the members will hold office for four years.

In two years another election will be held to continue the cycle of representation.

After hearing the election outcome, Senior Pedro Antonio Zayas, a member of Public Relation Student Society of America (PRSSA) was delighted to find Zeytinoglu won. Zayas and ESU’s PRSSA members helped the day of the election by handing out voter information.

“Being able to help out Zeytinoglu’s campaign for this past election was extremely rewarding. I really wanted to show my appreciation for him, so I jumped at the chance to be able to help. I am ecstatic that he won. He is without a doubt the right pick for Stroudsburg’s school board,” said Zayas.

“We are very grateful for the support of the community at large. It’s a very humbling experience knowing we are given this responsibility by people who have many diverse interest in the quality of public education and the district,” said Zeytinoglu.

Reincke also discussed persevering through unlikely odds.   

“If I listened to every person that said I was too young to run for office, I would have never been elected. To quote Churchill ‘Hear this, young men and women everywhere, and proclaim it far and wide…Take up the mantle of change. For this is your time.’” said Reincke.

For more information about the school board members and their plans in office, go to cleanslatestroudsburg.org

Email Laura at:

lnull@live.esu.edu

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