Sparta Board of Education to Re-Vote on Full Day Kindergarten

March 26, 2014 at 8:00 PM

SPARTA, NJ - There was an interesting turn of events at the Sparta Board of Education work session on Monday.  As the board was preparing to reaffirm their vote on the preliminary budget submitted to the Executive County Superintendent, board member Frank Favichia put an additional motion on the table. Favichia proposed to revisit the votes previously taken defeating full-day kindergarten. 

After getting a second for Favichia's motion, Business Administrator Linda Alvarez explained that a vote would first need to be taken to rescind the original votes that defeated the recommendations to use all of the banked cap funds and offer full-day kindergarten.

As they discussed the resolution to rescind, Jack Surdoval asked Favichia to explain his rationale for wanting a "do-over." 

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Favichia said, "Well, first Scott (Turner) wasn't here and it is an important vote.''  He went on to say, "I have been thinking about it and I think it is worth giving it a shot," explaining that he has "heard about all of the money we spend on special education and that a full-day program might be able to help some students so that they would not need to have more costly special services later on. "

Surdoval did not agree. "How are we going to pay for all of the capital projects?"  Surdoval said. He continued his assertion that they needed to continue with the plan to use $700,000 of the banked cap along with $1.25 million in transfers from the Capital Reserve and Maintenance Reserve accounts. The projects identified are replacing the track at the high school for $700,000, purchasing a bus for $100,000, maintaining  the Fellner Field parking lot for $75,000, along with other miscellaneous projects such as restriping the middle school parking lot, refurbish Mohawk Avenue School gym floor. 

In reply to Sordoval's question Favichia said, "I don't have that answer."  He then went on to reiterate his support for full-day kindergarten.

There was some question as to how to handle the multiple motions before the board.  Alvarez had the board vote on the original resolution to approve revised language to submit the budget. This simply reaffirmed actions taken at previous meetings, using specific wording required by the state. Next, after Yoemans consulted Robert's Rules of Order on line, it was determined that Favichia would withdraw his proposed amendment to the resolution and instead, give notice that he would be bringing the resolution to the next meeting. Brenda Beebe then questioned that such a resolution had to be proposed by someone who had voted in the affirmative on the first vote. Todd Muth said if that were the case, he would then make the motion.  

That resolution would be to rescind the previous group of votes taken at the Feb. 27 regular meeting regarding full-day kindergarten. If  the rescission resolution is approved, it is expected that board members would revote on these resolutions givng them the opportunity to change or reaffirm their original votes. The resolutions in question are numbers 23, 24, 25 and 26 on pages 10 and 11 of the agenda.

At the Feb. 27 meeting, Beebe, Richard Bladek, Favichia, Surdoval and Yoemans voted no. Kelly McEvoy, Muth and Karen Scott voted yes. Turner was not present.

Favichia has indicated he would change his vote to yes. Should all of the other board members cast the same vote as last time, Turner would have the deciding vote to approve a full-day kindergarten program for September. 

Once again there were several residents who spoke in favor of implementing full-day kindergarten.

Maryanne Ryan explained she "had not been blessed with children" but felt strongly that a full-day program "was the right thing for Sparta."  She explained,  "People I meet in my Hello Neighbor business most often tell me they move to Sparta for the schools. We need to keep our good reputation to keep people coming to Sparta."  Ryan reiterated several times that Sparta is now one of only three districts in Sussex county not offering full-day kindergarten. "And tiny Lafayette has less than 2,000 residents and one cute little school."

She asked about the cost for increasing the program from half-day to full-day and said she would rather the board spend the full amount of the banked cap to implement the full-day program.  "You can have my $20."

Ryan was referring to the difference in the estimated tax impact for the $700 of banked cap the board has allocated for capital projects rather than using the whole $1.033 million for full-day kindergarten. 

Alvarez explained, "This is the reason there are several meetings between the time the proposed budget is submitted to the county and the final budget hearing in April. It gives you time to hear from the community and make changes if you feel you should."

The Sparta Board of Education will meet next Monday, March 31 beginning at 7:30 p.m. at Mohawk Avenue School.

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