MADISON, NJ—The previously tabled $105,000 Junior School lighting replacement was passed Tuesday at the Board of Education meeting after parents met Monday with engineers in charge of the project.
Interim Superintendent Dr. Tom Ficarra invited local parents and stakeholders to Monday’s meeting, where local parents and stakeholders had a “full discussion with engineers,” who explained the new system’s design and answered questions that may have been weighing heavily on some minds, Ficarra said.
The engineers “were remarkably cooperative and open.” said Board President Lisa Ellis, the only Board member who attended the meeting. “It was a very positive experience.”
They handed out businesses cards and took email addresses from members of the public who wished to follow up, Ellis said.
Ficarra said the contractor “was so confident in his work” that if there were “one or two spots” in the Junior School auditorium that needed additional lighting after the installation was complete, he said he would add the lights for free.
Several parents spoke out in a June 13 Board meeting about how the Board evaluated the current lighting system, as well as the plan for a new design which involved engineers, but not members of the public or school officials who are familiar with the auditorium’s lighting system.
The Board tabled its originally scheduled June 13 vote on the Junior School lighting replacement in part to address public concerns about the project, according to Ellis, which were brought up at Monday’s meeting.
Parent Jaime Conroy of Rosemont Avenue said the meeting answered many of her questions, but said she still had concerns.
“I don’t believe this is the perfect system for our space,” she said. “I think that our hands are tied because of the deadline, because of safety issues and because of the age of the space.”
Board member Johanna Habib said on Tuesday that she still felt “very uncomfortable” about the project, and was the only member to vote “no.”
“A little part of me loves seeing such extravagant spending on these spaces (but) we’re overbuying in my opinion,” she said. “I think it’s going to tax our staff.”
Madison Junior School, as well as the high school, have previously staffed a technical director on stipend pay, but this position is currently empty. The Board is looking into hiring a new person for this position, Ellis said.
“I don’t want to spend all this money and then look around and say, ‘Who’s running this?’” said Board member Leslie Lajewski.
Once a technical director is appointed, building administrators will also undergo training on the lighting system in case they need to fill in, the Board said Tuesday.