Tell voters a little bit about your background and how it has prepared you to serve on the Board of Education.

My name is Gina Verdibello 8D running on The Children First Team with Lorenzo Richardson 7D & Monique K. Andrews 9D.

In 2013, I decided to run for the Jersey City Board of Education. I ran unsuccessfully 4 times and then in 2019 the board appointed me. I ran 2 more times and won. I have served for 5 years and was Vice President for 2 of those years. I am a mother of 3 children that attend our public schools and I am the Director of Development at Peace Care in Jersey City. I have a Bachelor of Arts in Art History from Rutgers University. I have been a Girl Scout Troop leader for over 10 years and was past President of the Rotary Club of Jersey City and am a current member of the Kiwanis Club of Jersey City.

What inspired you to run for re-election?

I know that I want more time to do more on the Jersey City Board of Education. I have accomplished many of the things that I started advocating for such as pre-k trailers being removed and students being placed in a building. I created a Parent & Community Committee so people could ask questions or have their issues resolved especially during the pandemic.

What would your priorities be during your term on the board?

Air conditioning would be a priority. Less bussing small children across the city and getting more buildings or space. Making sure students are learning and not being left behind.

School taxes have gone up sharply over the last five years. What would you do to control school spending?

I want the district to create a full grants department, which includes a grant writer, planned giving, corporate giving as well as finally creating a foundation. We have alumni that want to give the district funds but we aren't asking at all if anyone wants to donate for the things the district needs. This would create a spending source that can help in many areas in the district.

The graduation rate is low. What do you think can be done to improve it?

To increase graduation rates we need to start by supporting our staff, especially the ones teaching the students and supporting our students' needs so we can get our students to succeed. I personally wasn't good at testing as a child and many aren't as well. We shouldn't rely on just test scores. Some colleges don't even ask for scores when applying. They want to see if you are a learner and challenging yourself. Our students are more than test scores.

Ryan Kilkenny was born and raised in New York. He graduated with a BS from Tulane University and a JD from Rutgers Law School. Ryan worked as an attorney for almost two years before switching careers and...