Sparta Board of Education Jan Meeting: No Vote on Music Teacher, Transportation Audit, Budget


SPARTA, NJ – The Sparta Board of Education tabled the resolutions to add a part time music teacher to the Sparta Middle School at the meeting on Monday, Jan 30.  Board vice president Jack Surdoval called for the resolutions to be pulled from the consent agenda vote.

New board member Mike McGovern said, “Can I ask why this is being tabled.” Surdoval said the position “didn’t go through the appropriate committee process. [Board members] still had questions.” 

Personnel committee member Kim Bragg said the item had been discussed and recommended to be approved.  Surdoval countered that the item had not gone to the other committees and it “definitely impacted curriculum.”

Sign Up for E-News

Bragg asked if there were a way to have the person hired before the next meeting so the students did not have to wait another month to have the teacher. 

The position was to alleviate the stress in the music program, created when the board choose not to replace the band teacher Christopher Arnold when he retired last June. A high school band teacher has been splitting time between the two schools.  Parents have continued to lobby the board members, saying the situation was not providing sufficient music lessons. 

Two of those parents came to the meeting praising the board for the apparent action to hire the part time person.  Those comments were made before Surdoval pulled the resolutions.  Another parent spoke after the position was tabled.  She said her family chose to move to Sparta over other towns because of the music program, asking them to keep that in mind.    

Board member Karen Scott said she hoped the position would end up to be full time, rather than the two fifths position on the agenda.

Board president Kelly McEvoy later said she expected the music teacher and position to be back on the agenda in February. 

The resolution authorizing purchase of “Wireless Radios for 1:1 Initiative,” was also pulled. In a further discussion, McEvoy said this resolution was pulled for a similar reason, “it had not gone through the committee process.”  She said the “1:1 initiative was going along well” and there were no anticipated problems. 

Other board business included Dr. Daniel Johnson recognizing it was Board of Education Appreciation Month.  “Thank you for your support.  It’s a thankless job.  I’m not sure why you do it, but thank you.”

McEvoy discussed the New Jersey School Board’s Association training meeting she had attended with Bragg, Linda Curcio and Scott.  The presentation on school security had made an impact on the Sparta board members, McEvoy said. 

McEvoy gave a brief rundown of “roles and responsibilities of board members,” for board members and the community to understand.  These roles include “formulating and adopt sound educational policies.”  She also said, in part, they “have no power or authorities except when meeting as a board, they are elected to represent the students, identify problems not solutions, be the conduit of communication between the district and the community and to understand and respect the chain of command.”

Superintendent Dr. Mike Rossi said they were planning to hold a board retreat to develop goals and discuss board governance. 

McEvoy said she had spoken with the NJSBA representative on the topic. McEvoy said she anticipated they may have a meeting with NJSBA representative in May.

Surdoval, before the close of the meeting, said he took exception to a recent [TAPinto Sparta] article that said the district had $5 million in surplus.  He said, “I want board members to know there is not $5 million in surplus.” 

The district’s auditor, Kathryn Mantell, CPA, of Nisvoccia made a presentation at the September Sparta Board of Education Meeting, in which she said there was a “$5.4 million fund balance, an increase of $1.1 million from 2015. “

To that information Surdoval said, “I can see where she came up with those numbers.”  He went on to say there was a “structural defect” in the budget requiring the accumulation of surplus to fund “the budget two years in advance.” 

The district administrators had begun the budget process for the 2017-2018 school year in November, according to statements made at previous board of education meetings. 

Superintendent Dr. Mike Rossi had recommended an audit of the districts’ transportation department. The board approved a “Student Transportation Efficiency Study” to be done by Transportation Advisory Services of Walworht, NY. 

Rossi explained his experience with the firm, having done an audit when he was in Roxbury and that the findings had proven accurate and helpful. Rossi said this was a “top priority,” because they to deal with transportation issues nearly every day.

The February board of education meeting is scheduled for Monday, February 22 at 7:30 p.m. at Mohawk Avenue School. 

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News


Sparta Police: Wanted Sparta Man Stopped for Speeding

June 18, 2018

SPARTA, NJ — A Sparta resident was picked up on an active warrant after getting stopped for speeding on Route 181. On June 16 around 1:35 a.m. Cpl. Marc Rubino stopped John Clark, 51 in his black Ford pickup driving 60 in a 45 MPH zone, police report.

Clark was not able to show the officer his license but gave his personal information. Rubino found Clark’s license had expired and ...

Sparta Police: Wanted Man Picked Up in Speeding Stop, Gets Drug Charges

SPARTA, NJ — A Newark man was picked up when the car in which he was riding was stopped for speeding. On June 8 around 11:50 a.m. Sparta Police Officer Thomas Herd pulled over Tashiana Martin, 27, of West Orange for speeding, police report.

When Herd spoke with Martin he smelled marijuana in the car. Herd also saw that passenger Ibenabdul Harden, 28, was not wearing a seat belt. When the ...

Sparta Police: Speeding Sparta Man Stops with Drug Charges

SPARTA, NJ — A Sparta man is facing drug charges after being stopped for speeding on West Mountain Road. Police Officers Thomas Snyder and Jonathan Poon stopped Matthew Freeman in his black Toyota Corolla for going 47 MPH in a 30 MPH zone, police said.

When the officers spoke with the Freeman he smelled marijuana in the car. When the officers searched the car they found marijuana, drug ...

The Power of Positive Engagement

June 17, 2018

To the Editor:

I wanted to share this letter from Laurie Beacham, Media Director for NJ 11th for Change, about the notable increase in voter turnout and citizens deciding to run in the recent primary election:

"The 11th Congressional District has a lot to be proud of. In the June 5th primaries, voter turnout climbed from almost 33,000 in 2014 to over 86,000. Democratic ...

Again, Oroho, Space and Wirths Get It Wrong

On Wednesday, June 13th, a series of gun violence prevention bills were signed into law by Governor Murphy. These bills will strengthen our already strong gun laws in New Jersey and none of these new laws infringe on anyone’s right to keep and bear arms.   

Unfortunately, Senator Oroho and Assemblymen, Space and Wirths our Legislative District 24 representatives voted NO to a ...

Upcoming Events

Thu, June 21, 2:00 PM

Van Kirk Homestead Museum, Sparta

Summer Afternoon Garden Soiree

Home & Garden


Sat, June 23, 9:00 AM

Sparta Health and Wellness parking lot, Sparta

Sparta Farmers Market

Sat, June 23, 10:00 AM

CASA of Morris and Sussex Counties, Morristown

CASA Information Session

Sun, June 24, 1:00 PM

Van Kirk Homestead Museum, Sparta

Life Along the Wallkil River



Mon, June 25, 5:30 PM

Mohawk Avenue School, Sparta

Sparta Board of Education Meeting UPDATED



Sat, June 30, 9:00 AM

Sparta Health and Wellness parking lot, Sparta

Sparta Farmers Market


Sat, July 7, 9:00 AM

Sparta Health and Wellness parking lot, Sparta

Sparta Farmers Market


Sun, July 8, 1:00 PM

Van Kirk Homestead Museum, Sparta

Sussex County Views: The Art of Toni Chaplin

Home & Garden


Sun, July 8, 1:00 PM

Van Kirk Homestead Museum, Sparta

Sussex County Views: The Art of Toni Chaplin

Arts & Entertainment


Sat, July 14, 9:00 AM

Sparta Health and Wellness parking lot, Sparta

Sparta Farmers Market

Sussex Stags Football Team to Hold Fourth Annual Golf Outing

June 16, 2018

NEWTON, NJ—The Sussex County Stags will be holding their fourth annual gold outing on Saturday June 23.

Arrival time is 11:30 a.m. at the Minebrook Golf Club located at 500 Schooleys Mountain Road in Hackettstown. Golfing will begin at 1 p.m. and tickets can be purchased online at

Tickets are $125 per person and include the following: golfing, the cart, an all you ...

Update: Police Break Up Fight Involving 40-50 People at Bridgewater Commons Mall

June 15, 2018

BRIDGEWATER, NJ — No injuries have been reported in an incident that shut down Bridgewater Commons Mall Thursday evening after a fight involving a crowd of 40-50 people.

Police are still investigating unconfirmed reports of shots being fired, according to the Somerset County Prosecutor's Office.

The mall is closed for the evening as the investigation continues.

Somerset County ...

Why Buying a Home is Better Than Renting

People often ask if now is a good time to buy a home in New Jersey, but nobody ever asks whether or not it’s a good time to rent. Regardless, Team Nest Builder wants to make certain that everyone understands that now is NOT a good time to rent.

The Census Bureau recently released their 2018 first quarter median rent numbers. This graph from their report shows rent increases from 1988 ...

5 Fab Father's Day Happenings in Sussex & Morris Counties

Father’s Day hits this Sunday--what do YOU have planned? Team Nest Builder offers a slew of Father’s Day fun in Morris and Sussex County. Read on and surprise Dad with cool activities! (Be sure to check if registration is required prior to showing up!)

Alstede Farms' Father's Day Brunch – Chester

From 9am-noon, take a scenic hayride to a brunch buffet that offers ...

Don't Miss Sunday's OPEN HOUSE for 4BR Sparta Mountain Beauty

Perched handsomely on an acre in the beautiful SpartaMountain community, 28 Waters Edgeoffers a 4BR 2.5 Bathroom home with space and style. Come see for yourself this Sunday, June 17th, from 1-3pm at our OPEN HOUSE!

Located in the prestigious Sparta Mountain Reserve, this large, beautiful center hall colonial with open floor plan has a nice, level play yard with direct ...

Days on The Housing Market Drops to New Low

According to recently released data from the National Association of Realtors (NAR), the median number of days that a home spent on the market hit a new low of 26 days in April, as 57% of homes remained on the market for under a month.

NAR’s Chief Economist, Lawrence Yun, opined,

“What is available for sale is going under contract at a rapid pace. Since NAR began tracking this ...

Pass It Along Triathlon

Tri-something new this July and sign up for the Pass It Along Triathlon!

The 9th annual Pass It Along Triathlon will take place on Saturday, July 28, 2018, at the Lake Mohawk Country Club. This triathlon features two USAT-certified courses - Olympic and Sprint. This triathlon has become a Sparta tradition and everyone is welcome to attend to cheer on athletes and be a part of the ...

Welcome to the Pass It Along Column!

This is the first in a weekly series of columns which will focus on news, events, announcements, and opportunities from Pass It Along. Please check back next week to see what’s happening!

Welcome to Pass It Along's TAPinto column! We are so excited to partner with TAPinto Sparta to share news, highlights and opportunities with you to get involved with Pass It Along!

What is ...


AtlantiCast: Episode 16

Summer is in the air, and the latest episode of AtlantiCast is ready to help you enjoy some fun outdoors while staying safe! This week’s episode opens with tips for sunscreen usage from Atlantic Health System’s Chief Medical and Academic Officer, Dr. Jan Schwarz-Miller. You’ll also learn about how Atlantic Health System is advancing the future of health care through ...

June 13 Sussex County Board of Chosen Freeholders meeting

NEWTON, NJ - The June 13 Sussex County Board of Chosen Freeholders meeting video.


Summer Hockey Programs at Skylands: 3v3, U8 and Beginner Hockey Camp

June 19, 2018

Skylands U8 Cross Ice Challenge League

Skylands Cross Ice Challenge League is an intermediate league for kids ages 8 and under. Emphasis on fun, skill progression, and player development, it de-emphasizes stressful, high-pressure, game scenarios and ultra-competitive play. It's focus is more on individual skating, player skills & puck touches
One practice per week ...