Education

New West Orange Superintendent Takes Helm at Reorganization Meeting

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July 14 BOE Meeting. Credits: Cynthia Cumming
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WEST ORANGE, NJ - Amid a torrential downpour, new West Orange Superintendent Jeffrey Rutzky provided a detailed agenda for the summer's Board of Education reorganization meeting as the district prepared for the new school year.

Several items of import were quickly addressed and discussed with affirmative votes by board members Sandra Mordecai, Laura Lab, Michelle Casalino, Ron Charles and Mark Robertson. 

The board introduced interim part-time Board Secretary Marlene Wendolowski, a 20-year finance veteran from the Parsippany-Troy Hills school district, who along with Ralph Goodwin, will assist Rutzky until a permanent replacement for the recently retired Mark Kenney is hired.

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The primary topic of discussion was "The Bubble" at West Orange High School. The Bubble houses all the weight training for the sports teams and students, and money had been budgeted to replace the flooring and weight machines.

"The equipment was never purchased by the district," said Michelle Casalino. "JT's donated the equipment when they closed, and the coaches worked to get equipment donated as well."

"This was 15 years ago or more," she continued. "The equipment was already used when the district got it."

The flooring has already been purchased but the cost of the weight machines and equipment, which is expected to run between $90,000 and $100,000, must be put out to bid, generating both bids for Cybex and "like kind" equipment.

The board expressed disappointment when Wendolowski noted that the Bubble may not be redone with the new equipment until November. A week would also be required to install the flooring and machines.

"We began this process in February," Charles said. "This is totally unacceptable. That would mean the fall sports would not be able to train with the new equipment."

Rutzky and Wendolowski promised to work with board attorney Steve Christiano to move ahead with the bid process and attempt to expedite completion. In the meantime, the Bubble was to be thoroughly cleaned, including the existing flooring and equipment.

A series of board policies were approved on second and final reading reflecting language clarification and additions to original wording.

The meeting drew to a close with no public comments from the sparse community members in attendance. Laura Lab invited residents to a special meeting on the proposed Quick Chek on Northfield Avenue on Thursday, July 17 at 6 p.m.* in the Library Media Center at West Orange High School.

Councilman Victor Cirilo and township advocate Harvey Grossman are expected to be in attendance at the meeting, which will provide residents with an opportunity to find out more about the Quick Check, ask questions, and discuss concerns. A special zoning board meeting is scheduled at 8 p.m.  in council chambers on July 24 to discuss the Quick Chek application.

Lab explained that the board would be represented by Christiano at the July 24 meeting and would object to the 22 variances requested by Quick Chek to install gas pumps outside distance parameters set forth by the law. 

"St. Cloud School and Stagg Field are close to where Quick Chek wants to place the pumps," said Lab, "and the variances requested are very different from what the law allows."

(*Editor's Note: This article was updated on July 15 to reflect the change in time of the 7/17 meeting from 7 to 6 pm.)

 

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