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UPDATE: Four Candidates Vie for Two Seats on Ridgewood School Board

Jim Morgan and Bob Hutton square off for a one-year term; Gina Damasco and Vince Loncto looking at three-year term

Incumbents on the will face two challengers for both seats in April – one familiar, one less familiar.

By the end of the filing deadline on Monday at 4 p.m., incumbent Bob Hutton, the current board vice president, will be running against Jim Morgan for a one-year term. Newcomer Vince Loncto, who , will contend for a three-year term against Gina Damasco.

Hutton, in a letter to the editor published in The Ridgewood News on Friday, said his time on the board is nearly coming to a close but he has unfinished business – the longtime member wants to hammer out a contract with the teacher's union. Hutton is on the negotiating committee.

The district has been at an impasse with the teachers since the contract expired in July. A – in line with the cap – has been targeted for the 2012-2013 school year.

"This is the one open item that I would love the opportunity to see through to completion in the very short term," Hutton said in the letter. He's served three terms on the board and previously was a member of the planning board.

In an e-mail to Patch, Hutton said he's been most proud of helping coordinate the Ridgewood Academy for Health Professions program with Valley Hospital and Bergen Community College, adding that referendum work to the high school was important after years of deferred maintenance.

"We prioritized roof items and windows and it went on from there – our whole high school campus is different today than it was and it is a much better place."

Asked if there's one thing he could change or improve, Hutton said his wish list contains the introduction of uniforms/strict dress code beginning in the middle schools.

"I believe many issues that our teachers and administrators face during those three years would be reduced with the introduction of uniforms," he said. "It would make everyone's life easier." 

Morgan, a regular at The Education Center on Mondays, has at times been an outspoken critic of the school board. A neighbor of the high school on Beverly Road, Morgan has , which are prone to flooding.

He's also pressed the school board to take a more "thorough" budget examination, one that can be more easily understood by the general public. Morgan was formerly the CFO of a broadcasting company and .

In a statement issued Monday, Morgan said the district's technology needs to be upgraded significantly, a better understanding of achievement gaps must be realized, and said raising taxes 2 percent every year in line with the cap shouldn't be the modus operandi.

"We have excellent schools today, but how these issues are addressed will determine how well our schools do in the future," he said. "Every resident of the Village should be concerned with this election regardless whether or not they have a child in school."

Damasco, an attorney and graduate of Ridgewood High School, will be opposing Loncto for a three-year term. A resident of North Maple Ave., . She could not immediately be reached for comment Monday afternoon.

Loncto, like Morgan a retired CFO, has been on the board of education . He's opened the budget up a bit to make the largest driver of taxes in the village more accessible, something he pledged to do when he applied for the appointed seat. Loncto has been a resident since 1995 and has five children. He could not immediately be reached for comment Monday afternoon.

The election will be held April 17. Voters will also decide the fate of the district's .

[Editor's note: This article was last updated Wednesday at 12:45 p.m. to include further comment from Bob Hutton.]


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