After serving an almost one-year stint on the school board last year, Vincent Arrington is seeking a full-three-year term.
“I’m bringing my business and technical background to the district,” said Arrington, 52, on Friday afternoon. “I’m trying to help our kids succeed.”
Arrington runs a career day event at Eastside High School. He also takes hundreds of Paterson young people up to the United Parcel Service (UPS) headquarters in Mahwah every year to showcase attainable success.
Arrington served on the school board for 11 months in 2018. He was appointed to the vacant seat of ex-school board member Christopher Irving. During his brief time on the Board of Education, Arrington advocated for modernizing district classrooms by providing faster internet speeds and computer devices to students.
“I don’t think our children are career and college ready,” said Arrington. Indeed, the district’s students are not even ready to pass state exams.
Math scores of students in five of the nine grades tested declined from the previous year and English scores dropped for two of eight grades tested in the 2018-19 school year, according to data presented to the school board this month.
“We need more intervention programs,” said Arrington. He wants self-paced remediation programs that use technology to get students on grade level in both math and English. “A lot of times you got 30 kids in a class. Not all of them learn at the same pace. If we used self-paced remediation programs, the kids that are a little bit below can work at their pace and the kids a little bit above can work at their pace.”
Arrington said the goal is to get the kids performing at the same level.
Superintendent Eileen Shafer implemented a $3.9 million new reading program for K-5 students last school year.
Language arts scores for grades 3 and 4 did not significantly increase.
“I think that’s more of an analog solution. I’m proposing more digital solutions. Our kids don’t think analog – they think digital,” said Arrington.
Arrington understands how young people today think. He has two children. His son is a student at Norman S. Weir School and his daughter is a senior at the Passaic County Technical Institute (PCTI). His daughter attended a district school before getting accepted to the county school.
When asked about the district’s fiscal problems that led to 130 layoffs in the spring, Arrington said the district needs to produce savings by looking at vendor contracts and seek out more grant funding.
“We need to do a real evaluation of all our vendor contracts,” said Arrington. “Do we still need these contracts? Do they have the right terms? Are those contracts still beneficial for us?”
Arrington also favors taking a deep look at the district’s many schools within high schools, many of them have their own set of highly paid principals.
“We need to do an assessment to see if the academies are working,” said Arrington. A state monitor in August said Paterson, third largest district in New Jersey, has more principals with fewer schools and students than Newark, the state’s biggest district.
Arrington graduated from Paterson Catholic High School. He then went on to obtain a bachelor’s in business administration and a master’s in organizational leadership from Nyack College. He is working on his doctorate in cloud computing at Capella University, he said.
Arrington works as a systems programmer manager at UPS.
Arrington is running on a ticket that includes Dania Martinez and Jeyss Abreu. When asked if he would consider moving the election from November to April, he said, “I vote for every election. I don’t think it matters when the election is held.”
Other candidates on the Nov. 5 ballot are Emanuel Capers, Corey Teague, Robinson Rondon, and Iris Rigo.
Both Capers and Rondon are incumbents.
Arrington ran for Irving’s unexpired seat last November, but fell short. He is hoping this election is different. Even after the loss, Arrington remained involved, often attending school board meetings.
“I’m really engaged in the community,” said Arrington.
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