Category Archives: Midddletown Board of Education

>I Wonder If This Affects Anyone Currently Sitting On Middletown’s Board of Education or Applicants?

>Seeing how there is a vacant seat currently on the Middletown Board of Education and that the Board is currently accepting application to fill that seat, I wonder how many applicants or current board members know about a bill recently signed into law by Governor Christie, creating tighter restrictions on eligibility requirements of those that serve on New Jersey school boards.

Journalist Mark Spivey recently wrote about this in a column that appeared on various news outlets around the area titled Member might lose BOE seat; Faces disqualification from ’68 drug charge”

…The bill “permanently disqualifies from employment or service” on those boards anyone who has been convicted of a wide range of crimes, including all first- and second-degree offenses (among them many drug-related offenses) but also more minor charges including criminal mischief, reckless endangerment or resisting arrest….

According to the bill, each of the nearly 5,000 members of New Jersey’s hundreds of boards of education is required to undergo a comprehensive criminal history and background check within 30 days. Board members are responsible for covering the cost of the background checks out of their own pockets.

Locally based Assemblyman Jerry Green, D-Union, explained that the bill mirrors existing state restrictions on public schools’ hiring practices.

“If we prohibit someone from teaching in a classroom because of past convictions, then they definitely should be prohibited from presiding over the education of an entire school district,” Green said. “It’s a commonsense change that is long overdue.”

I wonder how many current, past or future candidates for the BOE have long buried skeletons in their closets from their youthful indiscretions; Potentially there are many, but should it really preclude them from serving on the board now or in the future after so many years have past? After all, the same standard isn’t applied to those seeking public office.

I’d like to see what happens if it is found that any current or past members of the Middletown Board of Education is affected by this new law. How will it be handle, will the public know about the real reason why a for current member’s was removed or stepped down or why a past member seeking reappointment was past over or barred from running again?
Now don’t jump to conclusions here on me, I am not making insinuations about anyone currently presiding on the BOE or who has stepped down recently. I am just pointing out the potential ramifications this new law will have on those that wish to serve on a local school boards, whether it is Middletown’s or some other town.

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Filed under board members, Governor Christie, Midddletown Board of Education, qualification of candidates, skeletons in the closet

Leaders Lead Gerry or They Get Out Of The Way; Now’s The Time For A Budget Advisory Committee

Gerry Scharfenberger may be able to talk a good game in order to give the impression that he is always on top of the situation, but all he really ever does is blow and bluster a lot of hot air that makes people turn their heads and look the other way. Good examples of this was his recent handling of the school budget and how he has thus far refused to consider the idea of establishing a budget advisory committee that could help formulate and propose the fiscal budgets for not only Middletown but also the Board of Education. It would rely on shared services and greater cooperation between the two governing bodies and would save the Township tax payers hundreds of thousands of dollars now and in the future.
Democratic Committeeman Sean Byrnes has been proposing for the past 3 years that the Township set up some form of financial advisory committee that could sit down, look at, discuss and propose ideas to the Township Committee that could help shape and steer the budget processes in order to find potential fiscal issues or problems that would hamper the budget process that would prevent the Township from having a fiscal budget in place by January 1st each year as opposed to 5,6 or 8 months into the calender/fiscal year.
Each time Byrnes has presented his idea for some type finance committee he has been rebuffed by Gerry Scharfenberger and his fellow GOP members on the Township Committee with Scharfenberger’s excuse always being the same, that he thinks it’s every committee persons job to look at and take responsibility over budget issues, even though it is inefficient to do so.
Byrnes’s latest proposal for a finance committee is a sound one and makes a lot of sense. It would be a joint budget revue and advisory committee that would include members of the Middletown Township Committee, members of the Middletown Board of Education and residents with budgeting expertise, for the purpose of making recommendations for sharing services, consolidating functions and for opportunities to consolidate maintenance and recreation functions. The goal of the committee would be reduce budget spending of each body by 2.5% in budget year 2011.
Committeeman Byrnes discussed his new proposal at the May 3rd workshop meeting where it received cool support from Gerry Scharfenberger and Committeewoman Pam Brightbill, who had earlier that met with members of the Board of Education to discuss the failed school budget. Gerry and Pam both stated that much of what Byrnes had proposed was discussed already earlier in the day when they met school board members, so it was not necessary.
Byrnes stated that he would introduce a resolution at the regular May 17th Committee meeting regardless so that the discussions could be ongoing and not brushed aside when it seemed that now was a perfect time to engage the Board of Education is serious talks concerning shared services.
Committeeman Byrnes stayed true to his word and moved that his resolution for a budget review and advisory committee be introduced and considered for adoption, unfortunately no other member of the committee would second the introduction so the motion failed and the resolution was dropped from further discussion.
Having a budget advisory committee is not a new or novel idea, many non-profits and Fortune 500 companies have them as well as other governing bodies, the Republican controlled Monmouth County Board of Chosen Freeholders being one of them. They introduced their financial committee earlier this year and are very happy. So why do the republicans in Middletown continue to fight such a common sense idea? I can only speculate that the reasons against a finance committee of any kind is because outsiders would have access to the Township ledgers and would be able to see where and to whom all of the money goes, which would lead to questions and lack of control over township business that the ruling GOP have enjoyed for more than 25 years.
Gerry, you can’t wait for Trenton to bail Middletown out of the mess we are in. Leaders lead or they get out of the way, it’s that simple.
Below is the resolution that Committeeman Sean Byrnes introduced to the Township Committee on May 17th and failed to receive support from other committee members:
RESOLUTION TO CREATE A BUDGET REVIEW ADVISORY COMMITTEE

WHEREAS, the Township Committee is mindful of the difficult economic climate facing residents of the Township of Middletown and the hardships associated with any increased tax burden facing citizens of the Township of Middletown; and

WHEREAS, the Township has recently hired a new Chief Financial; and

WHEREAS, the voters of Middletown, recently rejected the budget proposed by the Middletown Township Board of Education, despite the Board of Education having undertaken substantial cuts in line item spending; and

WHEREAS, the State of New Jersey, the Township of Middletown and the Board of Education face a financial crisis unprecedented in recent times, and

WHEREAS, the Township Committee anticipates that municipalities and school boards will continue to operate in an austere budget environment where citizens demand efficiency, small government and the elimination of unnecessary or discretionary services, and

WHEREAS, the Township Committee believes that closer cooperation with the Board of Education will be necessary to meet the financial challenges ahead, and

WHEREAS, the Township Committee believes that consolidation of certain functions performed by both the Board of Education and the Township Committee should be seriously considered and adopted where appropriate; and that the process of developing these recommendations should be open to the public; and

WHEREAS, the Township Committee believes that shared services within the public entities within Middletown and with neighboring municipalities and boards of education must take place and that the size of Middletown Township leaves it well-suited to lead these efforts; and

WHEREAS, the Township Committee seeks to pursue all opportunities to improve efficiency, eliminate unnecessary spending and reduce the burden on its taxpayers;

NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED by the Township Committee of the Township of Middletown that the Township does hereby authorize and call upon the Board of Education to jointly convene a Budget Review Advisory Committee consisting of 2 members of the Township Committee, three members of the Board of Education and 2 members of the community with strong financial experience, preferably in a Fortune 500 environment, to meet regularly over the next 6 months and thereafter make recommendations to the Township Committee and the Board of Education for sharing services and consolidating functions. This Budget Review Advisory Committee will look specifically for opportunities to consolidate maintenance and recreation functions. The Budget Review Advisory Committee shall have a specific goal of reducing the combined spending of the Township Committee and Board of Education by 2.5% for fiscal year 2011


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Filed under budget planning, Gerry Scharfenberger, Midddletown Board of Education, Middeltown Budget Awareness Committee, Sean F. Byrnes

It’s your Town Newsletter Volumn 2, Issue 10 For 5/17/10; Resolution 10-151 Outlining Defeated School Board Budget Cuts Included

The latest edition of It’s Your Town Hall Newsletter is >>> Here.

In this edition the township bill list for the month is includes which makes the newsletter rather long. Also included are ordinances and resolutions that were voted on during the May 17th 2010, Middletown Township Committee meeting. These are at the end of the newsletter and can be reached using the links provided. The links are underlined in blue. There are links in the resolutions to bring you back to where you were originally.
Perhaps the most controversial resolution of the year, Resolution 10-151, which instructs the Middletown Board of Education to cut an additional $2.1M from its previously defeated school budget is also included. You can read what members of the Township Committee had to say about this resolution when it was introduced and voted on, as well as comments from members of the public that expressed concerns over the size and necessity of the additional spending cuts imposed.

As always, if you would like to be placed on a mailing list to have the It’s Your Town Newsletter sent to your inbox, send an email to itsourtown@yahoo.com and request it.

It is important for everyone to know how our local government is being run and most of all, how our tax dollars are being managed.
Correction – At the top of page 2 of It’s Your Town Newsletter the statement attributed to Deputy Mayor/Committeeman Tony Fiore is not accurate, it should read as follows:

“Committee looked very hard and tried not to cut that which would impact the children.”

not
“Committee looked very hard and tried not to cut that which did not impact the children.”

It was pointed out to me that a double negative was used in the sentences which
altered the meaning of what was said at the meeting. Sorry if there was any confusion.

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Filed under budget cuts, Its Your Town, Midddletown Board of Education, Middletown NJ, Newsletter, resolutions and ordinances, school budgets

The Arrogance Of Mayor Gerry Scharfenberger Hiding Behind A Website

The following was sent in by a reader who attended last night’s Middeltown Township Committee meeting and wanted to get something off their chest. This person supported the school budget and did not think it necessary, fair or honest of the Township Committee to impose further cuts to the school budget after apparently agreeing to ~$ 1.6M proposed by the Board of Education without first informing the school board of it.

At last nights committee meeting the township committee finally approved the resolution to cut the school budget. The budget was defeated on April 20th by an unprecedented number of voters after the Governor in an equally unprecedented move had called for the defeat of school budget state wide.

After completely ignoring the invitation of the school board to hold a joint meeting in public ensuring maximum transparency to the process. The Mayor insisted on closed door meetings to discuss the defeated budget. At the workshop meeting resident after resident pleaded with the committee to hold an open forum were residents to discuss their concerns because roughly $10,000,000 had already been cut from the school budget prior to its defeat.

But the mayor who steadfastly refuses to hear the residents speak on regular committee issues prior to the committee voting, has been hiding in plain sight for years from the public, just as the majority of the committee has, unlike Democratic Committeeman Sean Byrnes, who has strived to make the committee operations more transparent and open to the public.

Finally after realizing the public could not be ignored the township set up a link so that residents could email concerns. It was a feeble attempt designed to once again hide in plain sight by receiving emails but refusing to hear in public or discuss residents concerns. While both the mayor and the deputy mayor championed the idea it demonstrated that they were only willing to receive the equivalent of a “Dear John” letter without facing the issue with the voters.

Not surprisingly they also stuck to the same pattern of hiding from the public by failing to place the resolution on the website, as was done with every other resolution of the evening. You have to wonder what the committee was trying to hide. It was not until after the vote and after the public was finally allowed to make statements that they finally disclosed the amount cut to a roomful of anxious school budget supporters.

They cut $2,090, 894 dollars from the school budget.

Ignoring all the information supplied by the superintendent and the school officials that they would be unable to cover state mandated requirements and insure student safety they cut more assistant principals from the already understaffed high schools.

But to add insult to injury they did not even have the courtesy to send a letter to the superintendent or the board president notifying them of the amount of the cut. It was just another example of the arrogance of the Mayor Gerry Scharfenberger not even to have the decency to notify school officials or the public about the cut.

Hiding behind a website is not transparency Gerry, its cowardice.

“The liberties of a people never were, nor ever will be, secure, when the transactions of their rulers may be concealed from them.”

– Patrick Henry, American colonial revolutionary

“Government ought to be all outside and no inside. . . . Everybody knows that corruption thrives in secret places, and avoids public places, and we believe it a fair presumption that secrecy means impropriety.”

– Woodrow Wilson

“Everybody knows that corruption thrives in secret places, and avoids public places, and we believe it is a fair presumption that secrecy means impropriety”

– Pres. Woodrow Wilson

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Filed under budget cuts, Mayor Scharfenberger, Midddletown Board of Education, Middletown, Middletown Township Committee, school budgets, Sean F. Byrnes

It’s your Town Newsletter Volumn 2, Issue 9 For 5/03/10, Details Discussions Over Defeated School Board Budget

I’m a little late with posting the latest edition of the Middeltown newsletter “It’s Your Town”, but as they say it is better late than never!

Issue 9 of the newsletter details the Monday May 3rd, 2010 Middeltown Township Committee Workshop Meeting that despite having and overflow crowd in attendance, was held in the small conference room located by the Clerk’s office instead of being moved to the more spacious court room.
Some of the items discussed included:

– Fire Department Audits
– Recycling Ordinance
– Citizen Service Act
-Community Development Consolidation Plan
-Shadow Lake Bond Ordinance
-School Board Budget Amendment

A large portion of the public comments portion of the meeting dealt with concerns over the defeat of the school budget and what type of recomendations the Township Committee would make to the school board in order to further trim funds from it’s defeated budget.
You can read all about that as well as the other items listed above by clicking >>> Here for the latest copy of It’s Your Town Newsletter.

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Filed under Its Your Town, Midddletown Board of Education, Middletown, Middletown Township Committee, Newsletter, school budgets, workshop meeting

Lincroft Residents Against Proposed Sports Complex During Township Workshop Meeting

I am sorry at times that I have a real job and family obligations because whenever something interesting happens at township committee meetings it seems that I am not available to be there, so it’s a good thing that others are there to let me know what happens. This past Monday night, February 1st, is a classic example of what I mean.

About 20 people from the Lincroft area attended the Townships Workshop meeting and spoke against the planned “Sports Complex” that the township will be building on the grounds of West Front Street Park. Most of those in attendance were from the area around the West Front Street Park and were very angry to learn that the township is going to put an artificial turf field at the park.

The artificial field will have lights,concessions stands and bleachers build around it. The other field at the park to my knowledge will be upgraded and maintained as a general practice field.

Some of the residents did not find out about this until surveyors came onto their property to tag trees for the construction and told the homeowner that construction will begin in April. While I don’t doubt this, I do find it a little hard to believe. After all the decision was made by the Township back in late September and announced in a press release on the Township’s website in October.

The mayor as usual placed the blame on others, in this case, the Middletown Board of Education for not cooperating with the township to put the fields on BOE property and as usual Scharfenberger grossly exaggerated the boards position and attempted to portray the BOE as the evil bad guys.

The BOE attempted to work out a solution with the township back in June but was unable to because the township would not provide details on such things as to who would have priority use of the fields, the students and the BOE or various sports leagues around town, who would be responsible for upkeep and maintenance on the fields, who would be liable in case of injury and who would be responsible for the utility bills.

And when the BOE recommended the use of Nut Swamp School as a potential sight the township balked at the idea as not practical due to conditions of the area.

The group of angry Lincroft residents that attended the workshop meeting passed out a letter to all of those in attendance, that explained their position and frustration with this proposed “Sports Complex”. I received a copy of this letter and have posted it below:

There is a situation that is going on in our town with regard to youth sports that many of you may not be aware of, but we all need to know about. First some background. The River Plaza Chargers Pop Warner football team currently plays at Nut Swamp Park, also referred to as Charger Field, off of Nut Swamp Road. The field is basically a large square with a baseball diamond in each corner and the football field running down the middle. The field is overused and in serious disrepair. There is a shortage of sports fields in Middletown. The town wants to add an additional artificial turf football field but can’t put the turf down on the current Nut Swamp/Charger field. That’s because the outfield of the baseball fields intersects with the football field. Plus they would have to displace the baseball teams while they are doing the work. What they feel they need is a multiuse field that would suffice for football, soccer, field hockey and lacrosse. We actually don’t even have a lacrosse team because there’s nowhere for them to play. In addition to the artificial turf, the field would have lighting, a PA system, bleachers, scoreboard and concession stand. The problem is that although Middletown is very large, they cannot locate this field anywhere they want in Middletown. Pop Warner rules state that the field has to be in a very specific geographic area within Middletown, which is basically River Plaza, Lincroft and Nut Swamp areas.

The Township Committee’s first choice for location of this field is at Thompson Middle School. There is already a field there as well as plenty of parking. The town wants to use bond ordinance money, which has specifically been appropriated for use by Parks and Recreation, to fix up the existing Thompson field. This would be a win/win situation for the taxpayers, parents and students of this town. The kids who play Pop Warner football and cheer would get a beautiful new field and the students at Thompson would benefit from this field since they would have use of it as well and a sense of pride at having such a nice new field at their school.

Another way to rectify the current situation is to have the Pop Warner Football games played at Middletown South High School. Holmdel, Colts Neck and Rumson as well as countless other towns allow Pop Warner to play on their high school field. This is not the case in Middletown. For some unknown reason the school board will not allow the field to be shared. This is a field that is paid for with OUR taxpayer money! The field does not belong to the school, the football coach or to the football players…it belongs to ALL of us! Is it fair that we all pay for it, but the majority of us will never have kids on the South football team? The school board gets $.68 of every dollar of our tax money! Why not use our tax money more efficiently by letting the children of this town who play Pop Warner football use it too? There would still be a need for somewhere for those kids to practice, but the games are what attract hundreds of people. Games of that magnitude and that go on all day on Sundays should be held at a school, not in a residential area. The players and cheerleaders could still practice at Charger field or Thompson, but at least residents would not have to worry about hundreds of people, both from Middletown and the opposing team’s town, looking to park in front of their homes.

So what’s the problem then? Why not just fix up Thompson’s field? That’s a question we would like to have answered. It seems that the Board of Ed and the Township Committee won’t play nice and come to terms. Right now they’re pointing the finger at each other. The Township Committee claims that the Board of Ed wouldn’t even talk to them except through letters from their lawyer. The BOE did offer the town the property at Nut Swamp School but the Township Engineer claims it wouldn’t work due to the grading and it would be too cost prohibitive to fix.

So that leaves us where we are now. Since the township could not come to terms with the Board of Ed they are planning on going with another site for the new Pop Warner field. It is neither their first choice, nor even their second choice, but they felt they had no other option. The field is West Front Street Park on the corner of West Front and Crawford Corner-Everett Road. This location is completely inappropriate! First of all there are homes bordering the field, two of which have backyards with full views of the field, no trees to block it. They are planning on putting up an unsightly chain link fence that the residents of these homes would have to look at everyday, in addition to 70 foot tall lights and PA system. This field is directly across the street from Holmdel residents whose quality of life will be affected but whose children will not benefit from the field. Even after the current parking lot is enlarged there will still not be enough parking for all the cars that will be coming and going on Sundays during football season. And that’s just football…the field will also be hosting soccer, lacrosse and field hockey so it will be used all year long. Cars will be parking up and down West Front Street and even in the Holmdel development. The field is right across the street from a church. Imagine sitting at your house of worship with the windows open (the church is not air conditioned) and having to hear not only the noise of traffic and people cheering, but the sound of the PA system! It borders on sacrilege! Plus, people will undoubtedly try to park in the church’s parking lot. There are no sidewalks on West Front or Everett Road and it will be hazardous for children being dropped off and picked up. A traffic light at the corner will be inevitable, changing the landscape of this quaint area of our town.

The biggest shame of this whole thing is that the residents of Lincroft who live within only a couple of hundred feet of this field were never notified. They had to find out about this through word of mouth. One home that will be greatly affected by this is owned by a 9/11 widow with three children who feels completely betrayed by our Mayor and Township Committee. One family found out two weeks ago when men were walking in the woods bordering her backyard, marking trees to be cut down. Our Township Committee solicited bids on this project in October and plan on starting in April. They have done this ever so quietly. They did not intend on holding a public meeting regarding this project. By the way, this is the same project that spurred protests a few years ago in Lincroft…remember the “NO SPORTS COMPLEX” signs that were all over Middletown-Lincroft Road? This is the same project, still being dumped on the residents of Lincroft.

On February 1st many angry Lincroft residents attended the Township Committee’s Workshop meeting. There were so many people in fact that they moved the meeting to the courtroom where it was nearly full. We made it known loud and clear that we do not want this Pop Warner venue in our backyards. There was even a representative from Holmdel who brought a petition from their residents against the field. The committee undoubtedly got the message but we really don’t know at this point if they will put the project on hold, do some more research, or even give us our public meeting. They urged us to go to the Board of Ed meeting and tell the members how we feel and demand to know why there couldn’t be an agreement made as to the upgrade of the Thompson field. We also need to demand an answer as to why the Pop Warner games can’t be played at South.

The next Board of Ed Workshop meeting is on Wednesday, February 17 and a full meeting is the next week on the 24th. I urge everyone who feels outraged by this to attend these meetings. We have elected the men and women on the Board of Ed and the next election is coming up on April 20th. If they can’t step up and do what’s best for ALL the taxpayers and kids in Middletown then we should not vote them back into office! If you would like to join us in our fight please email
LASC2010@gmail.com (Lincroft Against Sports Complex) and we’ll add you to our distribution list. Even if this issue does not affect you directly we urge you to help us fight this because you never know when the township’s next project will be in YOUR backyard

Is it to late to stop this new Sports Complex? Who will be the bad guys if it is, the Township Committee or The Board of Ed? Stay tuned, this should be interesting to watch unfold.

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Filed under artificial turf fields, Lincroft, Midddletown Board of Education, Middletown Township, New Jersey, Nut Swamp School, sports complex

Middletown School Superintendent Teaches Partisan Politics: President’s Address to Students Will Not Be Heard

The 10,200 students that attend the Middletown school system will not be able to see or hear live, President Obama’s Address to Students later today.
It seems that school system superintendent Karen Bilbao, has decided to play politics with the President’s address and will not broadcast the the event live during the school day according to a report that was published Friday in the Asbury Park Press.
When first contacted by the Asbury Park Press on Thursday Bilbao explained that it was kind of late notice and schools may not have broadcasting equipment in place for the President’s broadcast.
Now, if that was truly the real reason for not allowing the students of the Middletown school system to participate in this historic broadcast I could understand, but when parents contacted the Board of Education to inquire about the broadcast they were told something completely different.
Parents were told that the real reason why the president’s address would not be heard by the students of the district was because of community outcry.
Community outcry? Give me a break!
This is nothing more than partisen politics at it’s worse and a total disregard for the office of the President of the United States.
I would like to know exactly who and how many people called the BOE to voice a complaint against the president’s address being broadcasted to Middletown students. It’s outragouse to allow a few partisan, mis-informed people spoil such an important message as telling your kids how important it is to stay in school and get a quality education.
But I suppose that telling kids to stay in school in order to receive a quality education is not as important to Superintendent Bilbao as a few right-wing district parents are.
As a concession, Bilbao stated that the presidents broadcast will be availible tomorrow on the districts website for anyone who wished to see it, and if teachers wished, they could incorporate the address into classroom curriculums but that students would not be required to participate in the lessons.
Unbelievable.

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Filed under Address to Students, Asbury Park Press, community outcry, Midddletown Board of Education, President Obama, Superintendent Karen Bilbao