Newest member of the board speaks up on the issues, goals SPARTA - Linda Curcio was the only newcomer to run in the April 20 Sparta school board election, yet she managed to garner more votes than any of the three incumbents running against her. Curcio took her oath of office on May 3 and attended her first board meeting on May 10. Recently, Curcio sat down with the Sparta Independent to discuss her new position. The Sparta Independent - How do you feel about being the newest member of the Sparta School Board? Linda Curcio - I am very excited and a little nervous to be the newest member of the Sparta Board of Education. I take this responsibility seriously and I am hoping to learn quickly how I can make a difference in our community. I have always taken an active role in my children's education and activities. This is an opportunity for me to affect many children's lives. I believe we must support and direct our children to grow to their greatest potential. SI - What kind of background/experience do you bring to the table as you make this transition? LC - I am married and the mother to three daughters. Caralin is 18, Emilie 15, and Robyn is 12 years old. My husband John and I moved to the Lake Mohawk section of Sparta 15 years ago from Staten Island, New York. When my children were young, I became a New Jersey State Certified Family Day Care Provider. This allowed me to care for my own children while providing a valuable service to working parents. I made an effort to take classes and workshops to learn as much as I could about caring for children. I've worked as a Pre-School Teacher's Aide, Senior Citizen Activity Director, and CCD Teacher and for several years, I worked for the Sparta school district. My volunteer efforts include GALS coach, Sparta Ecumenical Council Secretary as well as participation in several church groups at Our Lady of the Lake Church. I am presently working in the Jefferson Township school system. I am the manager of the Triple Threat Dance Ensemble from the Ballet Barre School of Dance. SI - What are some of issues you would most like to see addressed by the school board with your presence? LC - The most important issue I would like to support as a Board member is an improved relationship between the Board of Education and the Sparta Education Association. I have seen miracles happen in classrooms because of the caring professionals making up our teaching staff. Teachers play an important role in all of our children's lives. In addition, Sparta needs to pass a building referendum. The volunteer community groups working on the referendum are made up of many excited and dedicated people from many different walks of life, including teachers. I support their efforts and I will do what I can to urge people to endorse the referendum. I look forward to being involved in our schools by attending school functions and meeting new people. SI - What would you say were the biggest reason(s) why you ran for the position, and do you have any children that have attended Sparta's public schools? LC - I was urged to run for a Board of Education seat by several friends after I started a new job in Jefferson. I wanted to stay connected to Sparta and continue to be active with the children of Sparta. My children attended Alpine School, Reverend Brown School, Sparta Junior High School, Sparta Middle School and Sparta High School. These were and continue to be excellent experiences for our whole family. SI - Do you feel that there is any significance to the fact that you were the only new candidate in the election, yet you received the largest number of votes? LC - I was surprised to discover that I would be the only new candidate running for the Board of Education this year. It seemed that this year, a lot of people were talking about the need for change. I had a good support system in place and as a result brought in 1,200 votes. This was amazing! The message was clear that the time was right for a new voice on the Board of Ed. I've worked hard at being a friend and I have enjoyed making new friends in every area of my work and volunteer efforts. I feel a real obligation to the people who continue to support me, especially my family.