"All Board of Education meetings are public, the agenda for each meeting is publicized through various media outlets, and all meetings are open for anyone to attend," says Dr. Joan Mast.

SCOTCH PLAINS/FANWOOD, NJ -- SPFK12 school superintendent Dr. Joan Mast addressed community concerns over the installation of field lighting at Scotch Plains-Fanwood High School in a press release shared with TAPintoSPF on Wednesday evening. 

"It has come to our attention that there is misinformation in the media and among the community regarding the High School Field Lighting project," Dr. Mast wrote before detailing what the school district has done to keep the community informed about the field lights.

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Throughout 2019 multiple groups have attended numerous Board of Education meetings to show their support and favor for the field lights. Those groups include soccer, field hockey, football, lacrosse, the marching band, the music boosters and the athletic boosters, as well as the Scotch Plains Alliance Members: SPF Lacrosse, SPF PAL, SPF Soccer Assoc., SPF Field Hockey, Raider Rugby, and the FSP YMCA. 
 
Additionally, there has been speculation regarding the monetary expenditure of $1.2 million at the same time the economy has been negatively impacted by the current pandemic. The answer is that these funds have been earmarked in the Capital Expenditure account.  They are not legally allowed to be moved into the district's Operating Budget. We have already taken into account the potential reduction in State Aid, which has been communicated to the District to be approximately $230k. 

 
Nor could this money be used for any future planning regarding COVID-19 safety precautions/purchases. The district has hired a consultant to assist the district with protocols related to COVID-19 pertaining to graduation, the potential re-opening of school in September, and the Pandemic Plan.
 
All Board of Education meetings are public, the agenda for each meeting is publicized through various media outlets and all meetings are open for anyone to attend. Specifically, the dates below highlight all communication that occurred between the Board of Education and the community regarding the High School Field Lighting Project. 
Dr. Mast then provided a communications timeline.

  • January 23, 2020: Field Lighting Presentation by Bob Zoeller from Musco Sports Lighting.
  • February 12, 2020: Letter to the neighbors inviting them to an in-person meeting to discuss their concerns regarding field lighting, along with both Scotch Plains and Fanwood Police Chiefs, Board of Education members and SPF School Administration on February 21. 
  • February 20, 2020: Board of Education Meeting which included Business Item #3 - Potter Architects Professional Services Project Proposal for SPF High School Field Lighting.
  • February 21, 2020: Members of the Scotch Plains-Fanwood Administration, Board of Education and Police Chiefs of Scotch Plains and Fanwood held the first Field Lighting meeting with the neighbors.  Notification was mailed to all neighbors within 200 feet of the school property. The purpose of this meeting was to listen to neighbors’ concerns regarding the Field Lighting Project. The Board of Education communicated to the neighbors that the project was moving forward and their concerns would be heard and addressed. 
  • March 2, 2020: Letter to the neighbors regarding the next in-person meeting to discuss the Field Lighting Project for March 31.  
  • March 20, 2020: Board of Education Meeting, which included Business Item #4 for ANS Consultants to perform Geotechnical Engineering Services for Soil Boring for High School Field Lighting Project.
  • March 31, 2020: Second meeting with the neighbors was canceled due to COVID-19.
  • April 23, 2020: Board of Education Meeting that included Business Item #13 for the High School Field Lighting Project Bid Award at the April 30 meeting.
  • April 30, 2020: Board of Education Meeting that included Business Item #13 which was for the approval for the High School Field Lighting Project Bid Award to Fai-Gon Electrical Contractors.
  • May 8, 2020: Letter to the neighbors which included a draft of Policy 7510.3 titled “Good Neighbor/Field Lights,” and asked for any feedback to be emailed to the Superintendent’s office.
The Board of Education has been in continued contact with both townships administrations and police departments. They are actively working to mitigate the parking and safety concerns that the neighbors have expressed, their questions about field usage, including who will be permitted, and the times for the lighting. There have also been concerns surrounding the environment. The Geotechnical Engineering Soil Boring has been completed and because of the limited amount of surface area used in the project, the poles generate negligible run off and is not a concern as reported to Potter Architects.  Finally, there were concerns around the approvals of local or state entities for this type of project. 
 
A courtesy review was held by the Scotch Plains Planning Board, which was on June 8, 2020.  Prior to the June 8th meeting, the State of New Jersey had received the project plans, approved the plans and official approval is pending per the letter from the Planning Board.
 
The Board of Education, many community members and I are very excited about this project as it will provide a place for our students and the community to come together and create memorable moments, through athletics, the marching band, Relay for Life and other extracurricular activities. 
Dr. Mast concluded by saying: "I look forward to continuing to work with our neighbors to keep the lines of communication open and thrilled to be able to hold a dedication ceremony in the fall when the lights will be dedicated to the graduating class of 2020."

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