NJ Pen 2019 Election Coverage: Meet the Candidates for Audubon Board of Education


We invited the candidates for the borough board of education to tell voters a little about themselves ahead of Election Day. Here’s how they responded.

By Matt Skoufalos | October 24, 2019

On November 5, voters in Audubon will choose from among five balloted candidates to fill three seats on the borough board of education.

They are incumbents Ammie Davis, Joseph Ryan, and Everett “Ed” Simpson, and challenger Tara Sullivan-Butrica(Joseph Miller, whose name appears on the ballot, has resigned his campaign since moving out of state.)

We invited each candidate to respond to the same set of prompts, telling voters about themselves, their priorities, and their views of the current state of the community. Here’s how they responded. Answers were edited for clarity and length.


Audubon Board of Education candidate Ammie Davis. Credit: Ammie Davis.

Ammie Davis, 49 (Incumbent)

Ammie Davis is a preschool music teacher, 24-year Audubon resident, and a married mother of two.

She has served six years on the borough board of education, currently chairs its human resources committee, and serves on its operations committee.

Davis participates in the Mansion Avenue School PTA as a room parent, chairs its family learning nights, and coordinates grandparents week.

She is also an Audubon Junior-Senior High Marching Band Booster.





What is your philosophy of education?

I believe every child is an individual and has unique strengths and talents. It is our job to provide a safe and nurturing environment in which to foster and challenge those strengths and talents.

Likewise, it is our job to recognize early on areas of struggle, and to provide meaningful instruction to ensure all students are working toward their potential. We must also be mindful of the whole child, providing experiences for social and emotional learning as well as a wide range of extracurricular activities.

Why would you like to serve on the school board?

I am a third-generation teacher, and have always cared passionately about education. Serving on the school board allows me to serve the community by ensuring we have the best possible programs for our students, whether their career path is college, the trades, or the workforce.

It also allows me to support the administration and staff in their endeavor to provide the best learning experiences for the students in Audubon.

What are the biggest challenges for Audubon Schools?

As with almost all districts in the state, funding is a major challenge for our us. Meeting the needs of our students and state standards with the resources available is always a concern and a struggle.

Security is also a challenge. We are always striving to provide the safest and most secure buildings through our protocols, policies, technology and equipment.

Having older buildings also presents a challenge. Our Buildings and Grounds Department works tirelessly to maintain and improve our schools despite aging facilities and systems.

What are the biggest strengths of Audubon Schools?

Community is our biggest strength! We have a wonderful community of families that take an active role in participating in the learning and activities of their children. We have a wonderful community of townspeople who constantly support the efforts of our district and are invested in the town. And we have a wonderful community of staff members who daily go above and beyond to work with and for our students.

What are three key issues you would focus on if re-elected?

If re-elected, I will continue to advocate for our students by supporting curriculum that meets the needs of all our learners. I will continue to encourage our staff by supporting professional development and classroom tools necessary to deliver the best instruction possible. And I will continue to support the community by focusing on our budget and increasing communication with all of our stakeholders.


Joseph Ryan, 72 (Incumbent)

Joseph Ryan is the Traffic Manager of WPHL-TV Philadelphia, and an Audubon High School graduate. Ryan holds a bachelor’s degree in communications from Temple and has undertaken post-graduate studies in technical theater there as well.

What is your philosophy of education?

Produce well-rounded students with the proper emphasis not only on core subjects but also on the arts.

Why would you like to serve on the school board?

To continue the work that we have started and support the new administration of the district.

What are the biggest challenges for Audubon Schools?

Continue to provide the quality education that our students deserve amid the pressure of funding. We have to continue to pressure the state to increase funding.

What are the biggest strengths of Audubon Schools?

We have many strengths, including our music program. Our marching band is one of the best in the state. Parts of our sports program are again best in the area. Recently our high school was voted one of the best. All of this is building our reputation, which means families are moving into Audubon to have their children attend our schools.

What are three key issues you would focus on if re-elected?

1) Continue to support our Special Education program and continue to support its rebuilding.
2) Support the administration as it starts to expand the district’s plan to offer vocational electives.
3) Expand the use of shared services agreements that will enable the district to join with other districts to continue to offer quality services while saving money.


Audubon Board of Education candidate Everett “Ed” Simpson. Credit: Ed Simpson.

Everett “Ed” Simpson (Incumbent)

Everett “Ed” Simpson is a certified civil trial attorney and longtime Audubon resident.

A parent of three Audubon High School graduates and grandfather of five, he is an Air Force Reserves veteran and longtime community volunteer.

Simpson has been the borough Little League’s Umpire-in-Chief, co-director of its youth wrestling program, and VP of its Grapevine Wrestling League.

Elected to the borough board of education in 2016, he chairs its human relations and education committees.

Simpson holds a Doctorate of Law, a Drexel MBA, and a bachelor’s degree from Rutgers.


What are the biggest challenges your school district faces?

Balancing the needs of the district and the taxpayers continues to be our challenge. For the past three years of my current term, we’ve successfully managed a very challenging period. I was aware of and personally affected by the school budget error that occurred several years ago when there was an additional assessment to the taxpayers due to oversight in the central office.

There apparently were several years thereafter where the 2-percent cap was not used. In 2016, 2017 and 2018, the Board recaptured those unused percentages, referred to as a banked cap, which is permitted under State regulations, and which was believed to be keeping us at par with our expenses.

The superintendent and business administrator were retiring. The board used the services of an interim superintendent in order to allow the process from Trenton to give us the opportunity to hire a new, full-time superintendent, whom we started early, out of cycle, November 1, 2018.

As reported by our accountant early last year, financial stresses were minimal, and our attention was not directed to anything urgent in nature until later in 2018, when we had to address a shortfall through an in-district reduction in staff in the current year. There was no effect on our taxpayers.

What are its biggest strengths?

Educating our students is our top priority, and cannot be accomplished with dissatisfied teachers. During 2018, an extensive effort was made to achieve positive negotiations with our teachers, and a successful and positively received teacher’s contract was signed.

Educating our students is our top priority and cannot be accomplished without the highest and up-to-date curriculums. Our interim superintendent hired a talented curriculum administrator from North Jersey to achieve this goal. While it may appear that a reduction of 11 full-time positions weakened the district, in fact, our ongoing education initiatives remained unchanged throughout the reduction. We have lost no traction in our targeted active programs involving students.

We have been conducting testing over the past year that resulted in recommendations for district-wide new math curriculums from third through eleventh grades. After completing our current pilot testing with teacher input, these changes, which we feel better meet the needs of our students, will begin rolling out in February 2020,

Our AP and honors courses have remained unchanged, and still allow our students to receive college credit as appropriate. While our application for a full-time pre-school was not approved in Trenton for this year, we will be reapplying for next year. Our goals with our new superintendent still include expanding our curriculums to include student exposure to the trades.

Name three key issues on which you would focus if re-elected.

Audubon Public Schools remain steady and on course with our teachers, our curriculums, and having no changes to the standard 2-percent increase to our taxpayers for the past several years, all of which are in balance with our priorities. I would continue to focus on our teachers, our curriculums, and holding to the 2-percent cap in taxes, and I hope and ask for your support and vote on November 5, 2019.

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