Mrs. Walsh’s critics have blamed her for, and hold her accountable for every mishap or school budget increase over the past 12 years, even though she has sat on the BOE with 8 other members during this time and could not possibly have done anything she is being accused of by herself. She is just one voice out of 9 after all and it is grossly unfair and irresponsible to blame her for the High School North turf debacle, the cell tower controversy at High School South or blame her for property tax increases. Anyone that takes the time to investigate these claims by the Middletown republicans, which seeks to discredit Patricia Walsh, knows that her work as a member of the BOE has been exemplary.
The Middletown Board of Education has legal and contractual obligations to uphold and defend. In the case of the turf project at High School North, the BOE was obligated by state law to accept the lowest bid for the project. It is unfortunate that the winning bidder, Mondo USA, was not sufficiently qualified to perform the work. The BOE was left with little choice, it had to terminate the contract and seek new bids to complete the work on the field, which has lead to additional costs and a delay in the completion of the project.
In an attempt to generate revenue for the school district and limit the need for future budget increases, the BOE investigated a proposal to enter into a Land Lease agreement with Verizon Communications to erect a cell phone tower on a small plot of land (50×50), on the grounds of High School South. The BOE publicly discussed this matter at multiple Workshop and Regular Meetings from December 2006 through the majority of 2007 and at no time did anyone publicly speak out about this idea. None of this should have come as a surprise to anyone, but it wasn’t until June of this year that residents expressed any concerns over this issue. Under pressure from local residents, the BOE decided last month to try and terminate its contract with Verizon, which will undoubtedly lead to a costly legal battle between the BOE and Verizon.
During Mrs. Walsh’s tenure on the Middletown Board of Education, the school system has shown a vast improvement in the quality of its education to our children. The Middletown school system is ranked within the top third of all school systems in the state, as measured by the results of the most recent test score rankings.
Much like the Township Committee, Mrs. Walsh and the BOE have had to deal with state mandates and declining state aid, hard decisions have been made each year as it pertains to the school budget to ensure the continued quality of Middletown’s schools. The residents of Middletown have recognized this fact and have shown their approval by voting in favor of the school budget for the past several years.
One of the contributing factors behind Middletown being named one of the top 100 places to live in the US again this year is the quality of our schools and the leadership of Patricia Walsh and the other members of the BOE. They should get some credit for that instead of being blamed by partisan republicans for political gain.
In my opinion, Middletown will be well served when Patricia Walsh is elected to the Township Committee on November 4th.
Caption: Pat Walsh at the State House in Trenton courtesy of the insideclamdigger