I am running for Sparta’s Board of Education with Kurt Morris and Niamh Grano. We are #3, #4, and #5 on the ballot.
The superintendent’s contract renewal is the number one topic I get questioned about since a public notice was issued on 9/11/19 that stated in part: “Pursuant to N.J.S.A. 18A:11-11, the Sparta Board of Education is providing notice of its intent to hold a public hearing and to take action to amend, extend, renegotiate and/or alter contract terms and conditions of the district Superintendent at its regular meeting on Monday, October 28, 2019 at 7:30 pm at the Mohawk Avenue School Auditorium, 18 Mohawk Avenue, Sparta, NJ.” The full legal notice can be found here.
Though I do not have the information to answer all the questions I have received, let me answer a few:
When was the superintendent’s current contract scheduled to end?
The superintendent’s current contract is set to expire 6/30/20. According to the contract, the board of education has to notify the superintendent by 3/11/20 as to whether or not he will be renewed. Therefore, the board of education would have to vote on the matter before March 11, 2020, or if no action is taken by that date then the contract automatically renews under the same terms.
How does the contract get amended, extended, renegotiated, and/or altered (aka renewing) early?
Superintendents or BOE’s can initiate renegotiations prior to the expiration date. The BOE, however, does not have to agree to do this.
Is renewing the superintendent’s contract early legal?
Yes, but to clarify I am not an attorney.
Why is it happening now?
I don’t know the answer to that.
How much more can the superintendent be paid?
On 7/19/19, New Jersey’s governor eliminated the superintendent salary cap making it impossible to determine how much more the superintendent can be paid. There is no maximum salary any longer for NJ school superintendents.
What does the public notice mean?
The purpose of a public notice is to allow the public to voice their opinion on a matter before being voted upon. The BOE is required to post a legal public notice in newspapers and in specific places, including the board of education office and town hall, letting residents know that the superintendent’s contract will be discussed and voted on at a public meeting. The law requires the public be notified 30 days prior to a superintendent’s contract being voted upon.
What is a public hearing?
A public hearing is a special type of public meeting where the BOE must accept public comment on the upcoming vote. The public hearing can take place during a regular board of education meeting.
Does the public get to vote on the superintendent’s contract renewal?
No. Only Sparta board of education members can vote on the matter. Sparta’s BOE has 9 members. One member is conflicted and cannot vote on the contract because his wife works for the district. Therefore, only 8 board members will be voting on this renewal. A majority vote is required for the renewal to be successful.
A tie vote would mean nothing happens at this time and the current contract remains in place with all of the existing terms.
What can I do so the board knows how I feel about this?
Every board of education meeting in Sparta allows for two public participation opportunities. According to board policy 0167, each member of the public can speak up to 3 minutes at a time at each of the public participation opportunities on agenda or nonagenda matters. There is a 30 minute maximum on public comment unless the Board passes a resolution to extend the time period due to the nature of the subject matter being discussed. It has been extended in the past when there has been a significant public turnout.
The next public meeting is Monday, 9/23/19, at 7:30 at the Mohawk Avenue School. The complete list of 2019 meetings is located here.
Also, the public is always welcome to email the board of education. Email addresses for all board members are located on this page.
I am running for Sparta’s Board of Education with Kurt Morris and Niamh Grano. Please follow our Facebook page. We are #3, #4, and #5 on the ballot.
The above views are my own and do not reflect the views of the Sparta Board of Education.