While I serve as a member of the Board of Education, the following statements and opinions are made in my capacity as a private citizen, and not in my capacity as a Board member. These statements are also not representative of the Board or its individual members, and solely represent my own personal opinions.
I have sat on this Board for the better part of 14 years, and while some may ask why things are suddenly being accomplished now -- the answer is simple…we have the majority of the Board pulling in the same direction! In order for this Board to accomplish anything, we need a majority to agree. Unfortunately, up until 3 years ago, there were a couple of Board members that would continually cause disharmony and chaos which, in turn, created a revolving door of Administrators. Thankfully, this current Board has not let those members’ antics and politicking distract the rest of the Board from the job we set out to accomplish. Examples abound: Top 100 School in the State, Referendum passed and projects completed on time and within budget, rolling out chrome books to all High Schools students and a stable and outstanding Administration, just to name a few.
We are also trying to be as transparent as possible. One of the things we discussed and adopted through our policy committee was that, if you are a Board member, you can still volunteer in the community, however, you cannot hold an executive position on any clubs, PTO’s, boosters or anything that is school based. As an executive officer your interaction with our staff is much more extensive and it could blur the lines as to which hat the member is wearing – Board member or Executive Officer. Even the School Ethics Commission (SEC) has frowned upon such direct involvement with our staff by board of education members in this capacity. Nevertheless, we said that anyone can still volunteer and serve as a member of any organization affiliated with our schools. This policy, which was adopted by the Board in 2017 affected 3 sitting Board members and, a fourth following the November elections…3 of the 4 are still volunteering with no issues or concerns, just not in a leadership capacity. Unfortunately, the 4thmember would have no part of it and essentially dissolved the PTO at the time. Thankfully, new members have stepped up to the plate and the organization is as strong as ever.
While the SEC has said it is not necessarily unethical to serve as a board member and the President of the PTO, I say in NJ, it is legal to make a right turn on red, yet for the safety of certain intersections, there are no turn on red signs, even though the State says it’s legal. In other words, we should hold ourselves to a higher standard. While some do not agree with my opinion, people should rest assured to know that I always have the interests of the students, teachers and taxpayers at heart. That is my number one priority and it will continue to be so. Unlike another member of the Board, I WILL NEVER sue my fellow and former Board members when I do not agree with them or for political gain. This only serves as a distraction which cost the taxpayers' money that clearly is better spent on educating our children. Also, we need to check our egos at the door. To me, it is more important that we get things accomplished than worrying about who gets the credit. I wish everyone felt this same way.
I am always open to speaking with anyone and answering any questions or concerns; please, feel free to message me on Facebook or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will respond.
Ernie “Jim” Giannakis (Line I)