My two children attend Hillside Elementary School. I am writing to recommend Brian Fleischer to fill the vacant position at the Montclair Board of Education. This letter has not been solicited by anyone. I am a personal friend of Brian Fleischer but also have worked with him in various PTA positions.

I am thrilled that four community members, each qualified in their own right, have put forth their names for this position. Their volunteerism for the school community is restorative, and I thank them for that.

Brian Fleischer is qualified in ways that very few people in our community are. As former COO and business administrator for our district, Brian brings an institutional knowledge of its workings. During his tenure, he advocated for and obtained funding for the district’s largest-ever investment in technology, he developed and presented the annual capital and operating budgets, he oversaw and managed payroll, purchasing, capital planning, facilities management, technology, transportation, food service, grants, and legal and regulatory compliance. Brian’s knowledge would be beyond helpful in the months and years ahead as new members are added to our board.

The critical transition from a Type I to a Type II school district is coming at a time when we are discovering our buildings and facilities are in great need of upgrade. The board has outlined a very ambitious timeframe to get a bond referendum to vote by November 2022. Brian’s experience with the New York City school system has given him familiarity in the areas of construction, design and capital planning. And his knowledge is not limited to New York City. For example, members of the community may not know that there is a law in New Jersey that helps school districts fund educational facilities construction and financing. I did not know. Can you guess who did? Brian.

It is undeniable that Brian is immensely qualified, but his career bona fides and institutional knowledge of the Montclair School District are not the biggest reasons why I think he would be such a great asset to the board. I believe that Brian embodies what Montclair, as a community, tries to aspire to. Brian is a believer in the public school system, and the ideal that the public school system has the ability to give a good education to all children. As we know, in many ways this is still an ideal, something we strive for. Brian, in his dealings always, always focuses on equity and inclusion. I’ve never seen him approve anything PTA-related without first asking “Can everyone be included?” and “Will this be fair to everyone?” He realizes that to be a good member of our community is not to lift himself up, but to lift those around him up.

Brian has spent his career working in, and working to improve, public education. In layman’s terms, he’s a ringer. I feel strongly that Brian would be an asset to the board and urge you to choose him for the position.

Colleen Dougherty


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