Randolph BOE Addresses Lawsuit, Contracts and Full-Day Kindergarten Among Range of Issues

Amy Sachs recieving her Plaque Credits: Sachs

RANDOLPH, NJ - The Board of Education had its biggest crowd yet at the meeting on Tuesday. The public gathered to hear the board discuss full-day kindergarten, the maintenance building project and negotiations on the Randolph Education Association teachers’ contract.

To start the night off the board quickly acknowledged former board member, Amy Sachs, and awarded her with a plaque for her seven year service to the district.

"We are in appreciation for your leadership, service and dedication to the Randolph Township School District for the past several years as board president, vice-president and board member," said Board President Tammy Mackay.

Former board member,David Rosenblatt will receive his plaque in February.

Mackay publicly shared the two project teams she created. One is a survey project team in place last year but did not get a lot done. It is felt another year would be needed to put together the right structure, information and direction. Members, Sheldon Esptein and Ronald Conti, will be leading the project team.

The second is the facility usage team to tackle the lawsuit the board is facing with Riker Danzig. On that committee is President Mackay, Vice President Alfredo Matos and members, Colleen Pascale and Anne Standridge.

President Tammy Mackay included a statement about the lawsuit:

"The Board of Education and Randolph Township are currently being sued by Riker Danzig, one of the State’s largest law firms, on behalf of Robert Daleo, a partner in that law firm, for over $1 million in connection with a personal injury that Mr. Daleo allegedly sustained while coaching a basketball practice as part of the Township’s recreation program in 2011 in the Shongum School gym. This case has been monitored very closely by the Board of Education and has raised questions about our facility usage agreement with the Township for recreation programming and the usage of our facilities by outside groups. In light of Mr. Daleo’s lawsuit, the scope and terms of such future usage is being closely examined. I believe it would be beneficial to create a committee of Board members to work with Mr. Eckert and Board Attorney Marc Zitomer to analyze our current situation and to recommend potential modifications to our current operations and policies."

One of the most popular agenda items of the night was approval of full day kindergarten. Superintendent David Browne reported some research he found on full day kindergarten to the public.

Some of the older research implied that full day kindergarten may not be beneficial to the district. Included in the research was a Stanford economist that expressed full day kindergarten is not a good expenditure of money. Others say doubling the academic time for kindergarteners is counterproductive to a child's development and long term academic success.

"I don't want the board to think there is only one side to this. Just like anything else there is more than one side," said Browne.

Most of the research mirrors Browne's and Assistant Superintendent Jennifer Fano's recommendation that full day kindergarten would be beneficial to the district. One of the biggest indicators for long term success and successful reading strategies for a child's lifetime is to build in structured and unstructured time to interact with each other.

The resolution for full day kindergarten was put to a vote and passed, with only one "no" vote by Anne Standbridge due only to concerns about not being prepared for Fall 2015. The program is being developed with the help and input of kindergarten and other grade level teachers, and is expected to be ready for the fall.

Board President Tammy Mackay spoke on how the board will commit to the resolution and the next step is to help find funding within the school budget.

To read more on the announcement from last night click below:

The board moved the meeting along by discussing the slowly moving maintenance building project that raised about 30 different issues brought up by the township. The project also created conflict within the public.

During the public portion of the meeting, married couple, Pat and Vito Mano, expressed that the building would be an "eye sore."

The couple lives on the corner of Schoolhouse Road and Millbrook Avenue, which is adjacent to the maintenance building's planned location. They are concerned with the look and cost of the building, and begged for the board to consider relocation.

"We live in a residential zone. We're happy hearing kids playing softball and being out there but to look out our back windows and look at what seems to be a monstrosity of a building has us concerned," said Pat.

The board encouraged the couple to come in for a personal meeting with Business Administrator and Board Secretary Gerald Eckert for any questions and concerns about the project.

The couple was also upset that they recently found out about the project from a neighbor and not properly informed by the board. The issue also bothered resident, Jack Nielsen.

"I really do feel like we should have been notified. There's no reason you guys couldn't have told us what was going on. You think this doesn't affect us? I can't imagine a worse spot," said Nielsen.

Nielsen was also recommended to have his own personal meeting with Eckert.

The last item covered that night concerned the current negotiation of the new three-year teacher contracts with the Randolph Education Association (REA), which is at an impass, not to be resolved until March or April.

To read more on the subject click on the following link:

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