Category Archives: Middletown Board of Education

Board of Education Elections Move From April To November This Year

In case you missed it, the NJ Legislature recently passed legislation (Bill A4394) that allows school board elections to be moved to the general election in November. The new law also stipulates that the school budget does not need to be approved by the public if the budget increase is within the 2% cap. However, referendums and supplemental budget items would still require public approval.

At its 1/18/12 meeting, the Middletown Board of Education unanimously approved a resolution to move its election, normally held in April, to November. The Board terms that would have expired this April are automatically extended until November. Five spots on the Board are up for election at that time, Joan Minnuies, Michael Donlon and Leonora Caminiti are up for re-election while new members Sue Griffin and James Cody, who filled unexpired terms of resigning board members, will be listed on the November ballot.

For the record, I’m not against moving the Board of Education elections to November per say. I think the more people that come out to vote, for or against, the candidates and school budget the better. Citizen participation is a good thing.

What I worry about however is that these elections will become much more politicized than they are now, which will take away from and could be confused with, real issues that effect local governments and school systems.

Board of Education candidates will align themselves with the political parties and will feel pressure to tow the party line and adhere to the wishes of state and local party bosses, over the best interests of those in the school systems.

To run an effective municipal campaign for Township Committee, campaigns could spend in excess of $100,000 to win an election. In contrast most school board candidates spend less than $7,000.

A town’s Board of Education will essentially be up for sale each year to the special interests that donate the most to the candidates up for election , it could get messy.

Last weeks edition of the Independent has an article about the Middletown Board of Education’s decision to switch it’s election from April to November.

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Filed under Bill A4394, Middletown Board of Education, NJ State Legislature, School Board elections, school budgets

Middletown Board Of Education Seeking Applicants To Fill Empty Seat Once Again; Deadline Oct 14th

The Middletown Township Board of Education is seeking interested Middletown Township citizens who meet the legal requirements to serve on the Board of Education.

Legal requirements for becoming a member of a local board of education are:

• An ability to read and write.
• Citizenship and one year’s residence in the district.
• No interest in any contract with, or claim against, the board.
• Not hold office as mayor or member of the governing body of the same district.
• Registered to vote in the district and not disqualified as a voter under N.J.S.A.19:4-1.

Interested citizens are required to submit a resume and/or letter of interest to Mrs. Joan Minnuies, President of the Board of Education, 834 Leonardville Road, Leonardo, NJ 07737, or P.O. Box 4170, Middletown, NJ 07748, stating their desire to serve on the board and their ability to handle the position. Submissions must be received by 4:00 p.m. on Friday, October 14, 2011.
The Board of Education will make the appointment for the balance of the 2011/2012 school board election year.

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Filed under applications, Middletown Board of Education, vacant BOE seat

Middletown Board of Education Gets Their Man; George Lured Away From Hazlet

In a press release issued by the Middletown Township Board of Education earlier today, it was announce that the board of education finally found their new Superintendent of Schools.

The Middletown Board of Education was successful in luring Hazlet’s current school superintendent William George away to take over the Middletown school system.

According to his terms of employment contract William George will be compensated handsomely for agreeing to come to Middletown. George will be paid the equivalent of $187,500 a year for the next 4 years, 9 months of the contract length.

In order to pay Mr. George such a large sum of cash, Middletown needed to get the approval of the Commissioner of Education in order to exceed the cap on Superintendent salaries that Governor Christies implemented earlier this year, as I stated in a previous post .

I hope all works out well for Mr. George when he finally takes over the reigns of Middletown School system sometime in December ( he must give Hazlet 60days notice before taking over in Middletown). God knows that the school system needs some stability to bring back a little credibility after such a turbulent year thus far that has seen 3 Board of Education members resign there positions and 4 Superintendent presided over the school system by the time George takes over.

Middletown Patch has posted William George’s resignation letter to the Hazlet Board of Education, it’s interesting and worth the read for anyone that wants to know a little bit about Mr. George and his accomplishments in Hazlet.


Update: The Independent also has an article published today on the hiring of William George as Middletown New School SuperIntendent – check it out

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Filed under Hazlet NJ, Middletown Board of Education, Middletown Patch, school superintendent, the Independent, William George

Middletown Board Of Education Appoints Ernest Donnelly As New Interim Superintendent

Middletown Board of Education (BoE) has appointed former school board candidate Ernest W. Donnelly to be the new Interim Superintendent of Middletown schools effective immediately, his name has already been printed on the agenda as interim superintendent for tomorrow night’s Board of Education meeting.

If you want to know a little about him below is a profile of him from Middletown Patch that ran back in April when he was seeking to be elected as a member to the BoE.

Ernest Donnelly has more than 40 years experience in the education field. He is a retired superintendent of Millstone Township School District; and, prior to that, he was the Lavalette school district’s superintendent and a school principal.

Though retired, he continues to serve in interim superintendent and principal positions, when called upon, throughout Monmouth County. He is currently the interim superintendent at Roosevelt School District, where he said he is involved in negotiating shared services and the hiring of a new superintendent.

Donnelly said he has a passion for the education process. One volunteer position he has held was serving on the ad hoc committee in Middletown for Buildings and Maintenance. That committee was charged with looking at the schools facilities.

“I feel there is a need in the community to look at the school facilities,” he said. “We need to start fixing them up. If elected, I will bring that to the front page and follow the committee’s recommendations.”

Donnelly explained that the middle and high schools in Middletown are first class facilities, but the elementary schools need work. “We need to be fiscally responsible to put money in the budget to start addressing the problem,” he said.

As for the hiring of a new superintendent in the township, “The Board of Education has the opportunity to bring in a new superintendent,” Donnelly said. “I find that the superintendent is key to education in a community.”

He pointed out that Middletown has been through many superintendents, and needs someone in that position who can “bring about positive change. We need a good communicator, who is talented, who has experience, who can excite the community, and work with the township,” he said. It’s a key decision for the BOE, and he wants to be a part of that decision.

Another issue, according to Donnelly, is implementing more cost savings. In line with that, he believes more shared services can be looked at. “In this time, I would be a positive candidate for the BOE,” he said.

Donnelly explained that he feels having a board made of up people with different backgrounds is important. Someone like him, who as an education background is key, he said. As a superintendent himself, and hiring a superintendent, “I believe that I can help move that forward.” He added the person being replaced on the board, Dan Skelton, had an educational background and he can fill that void.

Voters may notice that there are no political signs by Donnelly posted around town. When asked why, he said he decided to “go green and not spend any money on political signs.” Instead, he said they will make a donation to the Great Race, for the kids in Middletown.

When asked why he is running for just a one-year term, Donnelly said that a one-year term is open and he feels he “has the energy now and the know-how.” He said he will “see how it goes,” and may run for another term next year, “if I am making a difference.”

My thoughts on Donnelly’s appoint are positive at this moment, I meet and spoke to him after the BoE candidate forum at Harmony School back in April and was impressed with his knowledge of and experience in education. He was very personable, soft spoken and warm to those that spoke to him afterwards. I think he will do well until a new full-time superintendent is hired and in place, which more than likely won’t happen until the end of the year.

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Filed under Ernest Donnelly, interim superintendent, Middletown Board of Education, Middletown Patch

And Just When You Thought They Couldn’t Get Anymore Dysfunctional, Middletown School Board Member John Macrae Hands In His Resignation.

Latest word leaking out of the Middletown Board of Education (BOE) is that new board member John Macrae, who was elected this past April to the BOE, is being held hostage after he tried to quit the dysfunctional board two weeks ago by handing in his resignation. He has been told however, that Board members are not ready to accept his resignation and that the BOE would like for him to reconsider his decision to leave.

MaCrae’s departure from the board would it make three board members who have quit in the last year if he sticks by his decision leave too. Does it sound like the rats are abandoning a sinking ship?

The problem is that since last year when board members supported by the township committee were elected to the BOE, things have gone steadily downhill. Three superintendents have come and gone, and central administrators have fled at an alarming rate; One can only assume they don’t like the board members micromanaging and telling them how to do their jobs.

Word is that the BOE have gotten so desperate that they have been offering the Superintendant job to local superintendents, only to be turned down time and time again. The Superintendent of Hazlet’s school system said no, and he is just one of many. The word is out about Middletown’s Board of Dysfunction, so no one is interested in taking the hem only to get second guessed or get the boot.

Not to worry though, according to what I‘ve been told by two separate individuals, both these matters maybe cleared up at the next Board of Education meeting. Allegedly the board may have found someone to take over the Superintends position for the $160,000 being offered after all (far below what other superintendents are in the area are making, so what can we expect?), and MaCrae will have his answer as to whether or not his resignation will be accepted if he still wishes to leave.

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Filed under dysfunction, John MaCrea, Middletown Board of Education, resignation, school superintendent

Mid’Town Board Of Education Disfunction Leads To Yet Another Superintendent Resignation; Interim Superintendent Pat Houston Storms Out Of Meeting

It’s a shame that I can’t make it to every meeting that goes on around town but luckily there are sources of information like friends, neighbors and Middletown-Patch to keep me informed. After reading what went on during last night’s Middletown Board of Education(BOE) meeting, there isn’t much left to say about how totally dysfunctional the current make up of this BOE is.

According to Middletown-Patch (you can read the article below) Middletown’s interim school Superintendent Pat Houston resigned suddenly and walked out of the meeting due to a 5-2 “No” vote on accepting Houston’s recommendations to hired Middletown High School South Interim Principal, Patrick Rinnella, as it’s new full-time Principal, replacing Dr. Anthony Shallop.

If you remember, last month there was a huge outcry from parents and students when Shallop was demoted as South’s Principal and returned to his former position as a science teacher within the school by the BOE. And to add to Houston’s sudden resignation last night, Shallop also suddenly resigned his position within the school system.

Now that Houston has resigned, Middletown BOE will be looking for it’s fourth Superintendent since January with the possibility of a fifth and High School South will be with out a Principal to start the school year.

When will this insanity stop? I have kids in the school system myself and it’s starting to make me very angry at the direction in which Middletown schools seems to be heading – it’s been all downhill for the past 16 months or more.

I would be remiss however if I didn’t commend board members Vinnie Brand and Mike Mascone for trying to end the craziness last night by voting to approve Pat Houtson’s recommendation of Patrick Rinnella. If approved, Rinnella’s appointment as South’s Principal, as controversial as it my have been, would have shown that a little common sense and stability returned to the school system.

In an abrupt, unexpected move, Middletown Township Schools Interim Superintendent Patrick Houston, minutes ago during the Board of Education

meeting, announced his resignation.

“I can’t work under these conditions,” Houston said before leaving the meeting. “Tomorrow I will be resigning as interim superintendent of schools.”

The public gasped and grumbled as he slammed his microphone down on the dais, at which point Board of Education President Joan Minnuies called for a five-minute recess and Houston clutched his briefcase and walked out of the Middletown High School North meeting venue.

This happened after a contentious majority “no” vote (5-2, with one absent and one abstention) was taken turning down Houston’s recommendation to hire Patrick Rinnella, who was serving as High School South’s interim principal until tonight, as its permanent, untenured principal. A very vocal Vincent Brandt cast one “yes” vote; and Michael Mascone cast the other.

There has been much controversy lately over the demotion of Anthony Shallop, former High School South Principal, and Houston’s rapid recommendation of a new principal. Board members had complained that the move, albeit legal, was made entirely too autonomously by the interim top administrator.

While parents, students and others in the public questioned what they deemed Houston’s lack of transparency about the process to the public and adamantly opposed his earlier recommendation to demote Shallop, they supported Rinella as top candidate to fill the South principal slot.

The majority of the board voted “no” to the recommendation of Rinella’s hiring based on what they saw as a flawed procedure. Those who supported Houston’s recommendation felt that Rinella, regardless of claims of procedural flaw, was qualified for the job and should not be the one to fall victim to board politics.

Rinella declined to comment when seen outside during the break.

Houston, as superintendent, has the legal right to make such a recommendation without any public or board input. Procedure dictates that once such a staff recommendation is made, the board then votes to either sanction it officially or turn it down, with a majority vote. The recommendation then becomes an appointment.

However, in light of recent contentiousness over the Shallop demotion, there has been an outcry from the community to have more input on such decisions. According to the agenda, Shallop, who was due to return to the classroom as a science teacher in September, resigned effective Aug. 30, “for personal reasons.”

While the public, according to comments during the public portion, did not necessarily approve of Houston’s method, they were eager to have a new principal in place at South for the start of the school year.

Tired of what many have called a “revolving door” of administrators in the district, many teachers, administrators and other colleagues applauded the notion of having an administrator in place who has demonstrated commitment to the district and is more likely to stay put.

There were 15 candidates for the job, Houston explained. Fourteen of the 15 were out of district. Rinella was the only in-district contender with experience as assistant principal.

Minnuies, before Houston announced his resignation, had made a motion to revise the procedures by which new administrators are hired.

During the recess, people were outside grumbling, milling around, as the recess extended well beyond five minutes to over half an hour. One woman was crying. Another stormed up to the stage and yelled at the board members after the recess was called.

People were clearly upset over the board voting down Rinella’s appointment as interim principal for South. Much of the source of their malcontent was derived from the fact that with the “no” vote, High School South will begin the school year

without a principal in place.

Board attorney Chris Parton said that it is legal to be without a principal in a school. That fact did not soothe anyone. On the other hand, it is not legal for a school district to operate without its top administrator, the (interim) superintendent. Resignation or not, Houston is obligated by law to stay for a month.

After reassmembling and hearing more disapproving comments from the public and board member Vincent Brandt (who voted “yes” to Rinella), the meeting ended at about 10:45, with a disgruntled public exiting.

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Filed under Dr. Anthony Shallop, Joan Minnuies, Middletown Board of Education, Middletown High School South, Middletown Patch, Mike Mascone, Pat Houston, school superintendent, Vinnie Brand

APP: Middletown high school principal search down to two finalists

it’s nice to know that a replacement for Middletown South’s former Principle Dr. Anthony Shallop, is eminent but it would have been nicer if interim superintendent Pat Houston notified the Middletown Board of Education before announcing at Wednesday night’s meeting that he had already conducted four interviews and has broken it down to two candidates to replace Dr. Shallop.

According to Kevin Penton of the Asbury Park Press, some on the BOE were taken by surprise from the news. Board Vice President Christopher Aveta told Houston that members of the public expect board members to know what is going on in the district and that some board members (Aveta presumably) unaware that the interview process had even begun stating, “The board is trying to foster an environment of greater transparency”.

Houston then seemed to take offense to Aveta’s statement and according to the article posted below told board members that he was doing the job that should be expected of him, and believes he is not under any obligation to notify the board before he moves forward on conducting administrative matters.

That is a pretty bold statement coming from someone who as a former Principle of Thompson School, left the district in a lurch before retiring last year when he spent several months on personal leave.

Aveta had every right to question the interim superintendent about this, after all who is really in charge of the district at the moment, an interim superintendent who doesn’t have much of a chance of sticking around much longer or BOE members who were elected to oversee what happens in the school system? This seems like just another example of dysfunction to me.

MIDDLETOWN — District officials have wasted no time in searching for a replacement for a principal who was demoted last month, conducting interviews with four candidates in recent days.

The progress of the search for a new principal of Middletown High School South, a process already down to two finalists, caught members of the Middletown Board of Education off guard during their meeting on Wednesday.

Board Vice President Christopher Aveta told interim Superintendent Pat Houston that members of the public expect board members to know what is going on in the district. Some board members said they were unaware that the interview process had even begun.

“The board is trying to foster an environment of greater transparency,” Aveta told the superintendent.

Houston is simply doing the job that should be expected of him, said the superintendent, who believes he is not under any obligation to notify the board before he moves forward on conducting administrative matters.

“I don’t want anyone here to think I’m trying to deceive,” said Houston, a longtime administrator in the district who was brought back from retirement after 37 years of service. “Let me be frank: I don’t hire losers. I never have.”

Houston returned to the district last month, taking over the interim superintendent position from Thomas Pagano, who resigned for health reasons. Both men have served in the position as the district looks for a permanent replacement for Karen Bilbao, who left in January.

Only a couple of weeks after being at the helm, Houston recommended that Anthony Shallop be fired from his nontenured job as principal and reinstated in his tenured position as a science teacher. For personnel reasons, the district has not disclosed disclosed the reason for the demotion.

The demotion drew dozens of outraged parents, students and district employees to the board’s previous meeting.

Aside from Houston, six other administrators and teachers sit on the committee that will recommend to the Board of Education who should be Shallop’s replacement, the superintendent said. Houston hopes to have a recommendation in place by the board’s Aug. 24 meeting, he said.

No parents were included on the committee because members of the school’s Parent Faculty Association resigned last month in response to Shallop’s demotion, Houston said. Several PFA members told the board on Wednesday that their resignations are not effective until October.

Before a decision is reached, district officials agreed they will meet with a group of students who wish to discuss the position.

“We hope you recognize what we’re looking for in a principal and take that into consideration,” student Shubhro Bose told the board.

Responding on Wednesday to continued questions from parents on what happened with Shallop, Board President Joan Minnuies said she based her decision in part on comments that the former principal made to the board.

“This board was given the opportunity to go face to face with the issue,” Minnuies said. “In no way was this personal or political.”

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Filed under Asbury Park Press, Dr. Anthony Shallop, Middletown Board of Education, Middletown South High School, Pat Houston

A game of musical chairs for Middletown schools superintendent position

Around and round they go, where they’ll stop nobody knows….

Kevin Penton of the Asbury Park Press pretty much asks that in his column appearing online today, pertaining to the Middletown Board of Education’s search for a new schools superintendent.

Since January the district has had three superintendents, Karen Bilboa, Thomas Pagano and currently Pat Houston, with a possibility of a fourth before the end of the current calendar year. Will the Board of Education ever find a qualified and competent person willing to take the job of school superintendent when that person knows that he or she will need to work with a domineering and as some others have suggested, incompetent board?

As some would say “time will tell”, but what do you all say?

MIDDLETOWN — If the Board of Education finds a permanent replacement for Karen Bilbao before the end of the year, the township’s school district will have had at least four different superintendents in 2011.

Since Bilbao’s departure in January, two others have taken her position on an interim basis. The latest is Pat Houston, a 37-year veteran of the district who came out of retirement to serve as superintendent through Oct. 31.

Houston, who was hired last month, earns $600 a day but receives no personal or vacation days and no health benefits, said Christopher Parton, the board’s attorney. Houston is eligible for one sick day a month, Parton said.

Houston replaced Thomas Pagano, who resigned on July 7 for health reasons, said Parton, who noted that the board still hopes to hire a superintendent this year.

“The process is ongoing,” he said.

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Filed under Asbury Park Press, Karen Bilbao, Middletown Board of Education, school superintendent

Letters To The Independent Expressing Outrage Over The Demotion Of Dr. Shallop Have BOE Members Defending Reassignment of Principal

According to the this weeks edition of the Independent (already posted online), many residents had sent letters to the publisher this past week, expressing outrage over the action taken by the members of the Middletown Board of Education that lead to the demotion of the very popular Principal of Middletown High School South, Dr. Anthony Shallop.

So many letters in fact that the Independent felt compelled to follow-up on these letters of support by contacting BOE members for a response, all of whom defended their decision to reassign Dr Shallop to his previously tenured position as a teacher at High School South via email.
…Board Member Vincent Brand said in an email that his decision was based on the facts relevant to the issue, which by law cannot be discussed in public because the issue remains personal and confidential.

“It would have been easy to vote the popular vote last night, but that would have been, for me, unethical to do so.”

According to Brand and board Vice President Christopher Aveta, the board gave Shallop a chance to address the issues prior to the vote.

“I fought hard for Dr. Shallop to get into executive session so that he would have every opportunity to impact the vote and so that he could hear directly from the board the specific issues at hand,” Brand said.

“He was given that chance and could not positively affect the outcome.”

Board member Michael Donlon was the only board member to vote against the reassignment.

“I had not been totally convinced the decision was correct, therefore I could not go along with it,” he said in an email.

“Granting tenure to someone is not a decision that is taken lightly,” board President Joan Minnuies said in an email.

Minnuies said that the decision was three months in the making and involved discussions with the district’s central office and Shallop.

“I feel that the information provided to the board by both the central office and Dr. Shallop himself has convinced the board that the decision we ended up making was the correct one,” she said….

This vague reasoning by BOE members is a little hard to swallow based on some of their comments. It seem as if the decision to reassign Shallop was made long in advance and no matter what he would have said to the Board in Executive session, his words would not have been convincing enough to change their minds and will remain a mystery until someone decides to break the silence and explain what really went on between Dr. Shallop and the BOE that lead to his reassignment.
Comments left on my previous post on this subject are full of speculation, name calling and innuendo as to the real reason why Anthony Shallop was stripped of his duties as Principal of High School South and reassigned back to his original teaching position that he had held before becoming principal a couple of years prior.
Some of the comments seem to have merit while others are a little farfetched, you can read them and decided for yourself which ones seem legitimate and which ones are bogus. The bottom line however, is that when the truth comes out someone will have egg on their face and will have some explaining to do.
The Independent posted online two letters that were sent them supporting Dr. Shallop in his fight to retain his position. The letter sent by Patricia Wood,Resident heartbroken over Board of Ed. action, was referred to in the article posted by the Independent, while the other written by Judy Krivitzky, Parent urges Mid’twn BOE to reconsider principal’s removal (An open letter to the Middletown Board of Education and Interim Superintendent Patrick Houston), collaborates and supports much of what is contained in Patricia Wood’s letter.
They are both worth reading, as is the article about the BOE defending Shallop’s reassignment. Somewhere in between the three, the truth lies.

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Filed under Dr. Anthony Shallop, Joan Minnuies, Middletown Board of Education, Middletown South High School, reader comments, reassignment of duties, school principal, the Independent, Vinnie Brand

Middletown Board Of Education Does Nothing To Dispel Perception Of Dysfunction At Last Nights Meeting

According to an online post at Middletown-Patch, last nights Middletown Board of Education meeting turned out to be a nearly 6 hour carnival show, ending sometime after 1 A.M. It seems that all of the hullaballoo was over the demotion of Middletown High School South Principle Dr. Anthony Shallop.

According to Patch, hundreds of Shallop supporter packed the BOE meeting and overflowed into the corridors of Middletown High School North to protest the demotion and lend their support of the very popular Doctor Shallop.

In the end it didn’t matter, the BOE demoted Principle Shallop over the concerns of everyone who were there to show support.
I have been hearing from many residents and a few former school employees who feel that this current BOE is dysfunctional and a joke, they feel that the quality of education in Middletown is suffering for it.
It seems that all this BOE is worried about is pulling the rug out from the many administrators that work for the school system. Since September of last year the school system has gone through 2 superintendents, a few assistant superintendents, a business administrator and any number of professional Principles and Vice-Principles, Para-Professionals, Guidance Counselors and many teachers through out the district.
No wonder why people feel that the current crop of “volunteers” that make up the BOE are dysfunctional and don’t know what they are doing.

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Filed under Middletown Board of Education, Middletown High School South