Category Archives: School Board elections

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

>Newly Elected School Board Member Resigns

>At last weeks Middletown Board of Education meeting, newly elected board member Bob Banta, announce that he was resigning from the Middletown Board of Education after sitting on the board for just one meeting.

Banta was elected to the Middletown BOE this past April 27th, along with his running mate Gerry Wexelberg. Banta received the second highest number of vote garnering over 2600 votes.
Banta’s reason for stepping down from the BOE was said to be health related.
For anyone interested in seeking to replace Bob Banta on the Middletown Board of Education you have until June 10th to submit an application and resume to the school board.

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Filed under Bob Banta, Middletown Board of Education, resignation, School Board elections

>Unofficial Result Of Middletown BOE Election With 90% Of The Vote Counted

>With about 90% of the votes counted, according to the Monmouth County Clerks website, here are the unofficial results from today’s Middletown Board of Education election:

Full Term:

– Richard Morrill 1,478 11.92%
– Barry Allan Travis 1,416 11.42%
Bob Banta 2,609 21.05%
– Robert Superti 1,365 11.01%
John Macrae 3,181 25.66%
Gerald Wexelberg 2,275 18.35%
Write-In 71 0.57%
Total 12,395 100.00%

1 year Unexpired Term:

– Allan Burns 1,496 34.02%
– Ernest Donnelly 1,344 30.56%
Leonora Caminiti 1,539 34.99%
Write-In 19 0.43%
Total 4,398 100.00%

As of this moment the results of the school budget voting are to close to call, it seem that it will be down to the wire on this one, so far there is a 1 vote difference the approval of the budget and it’s defeat:

– Yes 2,930 50.01%
– No 2,929 49.99%
Total 5,859 100.00%

________________________________________________

Update 11:17 pm

Unofficial results according to the Monmouth County Clerk after 100% of the vote counted, Middletown’s School Budget passed by 125 votes. The candidate results have not changed:

Yes 3,332 50.96%
– No 3,207 49.04%
Total 6,539 100.00%

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Filed under Middletown Board of Education, monmouth county clerk, School Board elections, school budgets

Christie’s latest offensive against teachers may prompt mass exodus of NJ’s best

BY PAT SUMMERS
NEWJERSEYNEWSROOM.COM

With a state budget that focuses almost entirely on cutting spending rather than raising revenues, it’s no surprise that Governor Chris Christie has targeted publicly funded teachers and education — astutely transferring financial problems from the state to local municipalities.

As proven on April 20, he can persuade a majority of the voting public — a.k.a. the disgruntled property tax-paying public — to defeat school budgets in districts where teachers refused to accept a pay freeze. The incongruity of a governor acting against his own state education system and its students was obscured by the elections results: for the first time since 1976, the majority of New Jersey’s school budgets were voted down.

Talk about a “bully pulpit.” Or as a letter to the Times of Trenton had it, “in taking money from the needy and giving it to the greedy,” Christie is a “reverse Robin Hood.” And that’s one of the nicest names he’s been called lately.

Christie’s latest maneuver against teachers is his plan to reduce pension and health benefits. Next month, he’ll request the passage of bills (1) requiring those who retire after August 1 to pay more toward health benefits and (2) changing how pension benefits are calculated, resulting in a loss of income.

Obviously, Christie hopes that rather than continue teaching and accept the projected cuts, eligible veteran teachers may opt out this summer. (Those retiring by August 1 will get a free pass.)

Of course, if seasoned, master teachers are forced to retire early for this reason, the schools, and the students, will be the losers — only for starters.

Overall, according to a Star-Ledger analysis, 20 percent of the state’s certified teachers are qualified for retirement. Should this happen, the two Mercer County districts probably most in need of excellent veteran teachers — the city of Trenton and the Mercer County Special Services District — could lose the highest number of them. In Trenton, those eligible to retire represent about 31 percent of the total, while the Special Services District virtually tied, at 30 percent.

And it gets worse, both for New Jersey students and fledgling teachers in the faculty room. More than 42 percent of those with doctorates and 25 percent of those with master’s degrees would be eligible to retire.

Through this shortsighted approach, the old management axiom, “Trust the veterans,” could become obsolete by September. Sure, the ranks may be re-filled with younger teachers inexplicably willing to enter a profession where they’re insulted, devalued and threatened. But they’ll lack for the “voices of experience” new teachers have traditionally had on staff, and their road to master teacher status becomes much longer.

All that will make a difference very quickly. Everyone in a town loses when school funding is cut. Ultimately, students who are less well-educated can only contribute less to their communities. Possibly less likely to get or hold jobs, they could become additional drains on the already reeling economy.

Not only does Christie dismiss the incalculable value of teacher experience, but he’s also treating the state’s fiscal problem with woefully outdated — and discredited — management techniques of his own. He’s practicing top-down, power-over “Scientific Management” — whereby employees lose dignity and are treated like machines, with money as the incentive.

Our state’s fiscal problems are not unique in the country. But Christie’s answer — a focus on cutting spending — has put New Jersey into “a small peer group,” the New York Times reported last month. Florida, Louisiana, Minnesota, Mississippi, South Carolina, Texas and Virginia are all led by Republicans, a number with national aspirations.

As has been counter-argued on line and on the street, Christie’s selective about the groups he asks to sacrifice. He’s not calling on doctors, lawyers or bankers; nor is he asking millionaires to do their bit — which would be easy enough through re-enactment of the “millionaire’s tax,” which he insists won’t happen.

Finally, the ranks of those exempt from sacrifice also include the political appointees on Christie’s staff. Their salaries reportedly exceed the total for the same group under Governor Corzine.

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Filed under budget cuts, Gov. Chris Christie, New Jersey Newsroom, School Board elections, Teachers

Here’s An FYI On That Call For Change On The Middletown Board Of Ed.

Below is the text of another email that is circulating around that was written by Middletown resident Kathy Noah. This email is a direct counter to the anonymous letter posted by someone calling themselves ” Jersey Strong” that was making the email circuit tour and was posted on another out of town, local blog that has been known for its right-wing views:

Yikes! People like this scare me!

I did a little checking into this group/person. The word around town is that the 3 guys running are fairly well tied to some of the people on the Middletown Town Council. I don’t have a big problem with that, except I hear that the Town Council is looking to have more say over the Board of Ed. I don’t think people should be voting in less qualified people just so it will make life easier for the Town Council. I think we should be voting on the best qualified person for the job. I guess using the word “job” is not right considering it is not a paid position.

This person/group who wrote this seems to think that the Middletown Board of Ed should be breaking the union. This is a very big fight, and it would need to be addressed at the state level. When the contract with the teachers was negotiated it was considered to be fair and comparable with other local teacher’s union contract. The BOE did request that the teachers consider taking a pay freeze, the the local union leadership did not allow the teachers to take that vote. The union does have the right to work out their contract as written. I do think you will see some changes in the upcoming contract negotiations.

The idea that “you don’t like how life is, so let’s bring in all new people” is just crazy. The fact that our Real Estate taxes are tied to the quality of the education that our children receive is another broken system. This is not something that the BOE or the Town Council can fix. It must be dealt with in Trenton. We need people who are smart and dedicated, and they must have the children’s needs at heart. I think the people on the BOE work very hard to do that. I question the dedication of some of the gentleman this person is recommending. Mascone did not show to the 1st Candidate Forum, nor did he even have the courtesy to respond that he would not be attending. Brand also did not attend the forum, but he sent a very long statement that did not really say much. Hard to know what you are really getting with them.

They also seem very concerned with the number of Administrators that the district has. They do plan to cut 7 (15%) with the proposed budget! These people have big job descriptions including curriculum, state testing, staff oversight & evaluations, student discipline, security, oversight of sports & clubs, etc. I am sure years ago you expected 1 vice principle to handle all the discipline for 1,500 students, and security was not a big issue. Times have changed. In a corporation of 1,500 employees, 10,000 daily guests/students and 17 buildings how many managers and Vice-Presidents would you expect to have?

One of the only things I do agree with them on is nobody wants their taxes going up. Unfortunately, New Jersey is in a fiscal crisis, and Governor Christie has forced large cuts everywhere. He decreased state aid to our school alone by 34%, and some schools lost all state funding. We all pay a lot of income tax to the State of NJ, so I personally have a hard time understanding how this is fair. Considering these drastic cuts the Board of Ed did their best to come up with the proposed budget.

Voting down the school budget on April 20th will still mean Middletown will lose 72.5 teachers positions, 7 Administrators, 20 Para professionals, etc.

If this budget fails, these cuts will still happen and even more will be cut. That means more teacher cuts and larger class sizes. Most likely all Middle School sports and clubs will be eliminated. Maybe the Freshman teams will be lost too. To stay on a sport you cannot miss too many days of school & you must keep your grades up. Not all kids are the perfect academic student by nature. We need ways to keep them interested in going to school and learning.

APRIL 20th VOTE YES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
4 PM – 9 PM

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Filed under Gov. Chris Christie, Middletown Board of Education, School Board elections, Taxes

Middletown School Board Election – Budget Passes & Cody Lost

For all of those who voted in todays Middletown School Board election the results are in:
The budget passed by a vote of 4621 yes  2887 no 
All three incumbents were also re-elected to 3 year terms

Minnuies with 3976 votes
Skelton with 2894 votes

Donlon with 2423 votes  
I would like to thank all of you who read my earlier post and took my advice to follow the ABC rule, Anyone But Cody. James Cody lost by a good margin. 
The Board of Education is no place for a person with a personal ax to grind and an agenda against others, and who serve honestly and with the best intentions of our children in mind.

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Filed under budget passes, Donlon, James Cody, Joan Minnuies, Middletown Board of Education, School Board elections, Skelton

Middletown School Board Election – Anyone But Cody

Middletown School Board elections are today there are 7 candidates seeking 3 seats on the Board of Education. I don’t know much about the 7 candidates that are running other than 3 are incumbents seeking new terms on the BOE and 1 person that I would not even vote if he were running for dogcatcher. That person is James Cody. Why wouldn’t I vote for Cody? It’s simple; the man is nothing but trouble. 

James Cody is a life long resident of Middletown who likes to boast that he and his family all attended and graduated from the Middletown school system. He has said that he wants to see a change in the way tax dollars are spent. “I’m running for school board as I’ve been involved in the community for a number of years and I’ve seen a number of things that need to be changed,” Cody said. “Hopefully, if I get on the board, we can make some of those changes which I think the district needs.” 

That sounds pretty good doesn’t it? Cody wants a seat on the BOE so that he has a say in how tax dollars are spent, because he has been involved in the community for a number of years and so that he can be an agent for change. James Cody is rather noble, don’t you think?  He sounds a bit like Barack Obama, doesn’t he? 

The problem with all this however, is that Mr. Cody has been a polarizing individual throughout all the endeavors in which he has been involved in. You either love him or you totally despise him, there is no middle ground. The bottom line with this guy is that he is really just out for himself, regardless of what he wants you all to believe. 

The saga behind the football fields: Cody looking out for himself. 

 As one of the founding members of Middletown South’s “Touchdown Club”, James Cody, amongst other things was one of the driving forces behind the artificial turf football field that was installed at High School South.  

 Mr. Cody at the time worked as a consultant for I.C. Improvements, a company that specializes in the installation of artificial turf fields. Cody lobbied the BOE for months in order to convince them to have a turf field installed at the “swamp”, as the field was affectingly referred to, due to the poor conditions that the field would be left in after a rainstorm. The BOE eventually relented to Cody’s pressure and sought bids for the installation of a turf field at High School South. 

Cody and I.C. eventually won the contract to install the field by being the lowest bidder for the job. How low did they bid? Low enough to have cost overruns, at which time Cody had to go in front of the BOE to request more money to complete the job. The BOE turned Cody and I.C. down, saying that a contract was a contract and that by state law the BOE could not reimburse I.C. for the overruns. I.C. would have to finish the job for the contracted price. 

This burned Cody’s ass, but I.C. Improvements finished the job for the contracted amount, losing money in the process, with an eye toward the turf field that would be installed at High School North later on.  

When it the time came to install the turf field at High School North, Cody and Co. did not feel that they should have to bid on the job, they felt that because they finished the installation of South’s field on time, even though they lost money on it, that I.C. Improvements should be given the contract without bidding for it. The BOE, to its credit turned down Cody. The BOE let it be known to James Cody again that by state statute, the BOE was obligated to seek the lowest qualified bid on any and all work sought by the BOE. 

In July 2007, the contract for the project was awarded to I.C. Improvements, the company that completed the work on High School South’s main athletic field in 2004.

The bid later was voided after it was deemed that IC was not a responsible bidder because the bid was missing documentation. 

The contract to install the new turf field at High School North was awarded the lowest bidder, Mondo USA.

 Cody and I.C. Improvements then filed a lawsuit against the BOE looking to stop Mondo USA from gaining the contract. They argued that Mondo USA was not qualified to for the job because they had never installed a turf field before, North’s would be its first. James Cody lost his case against the BOE; Mondo USA was allowed to start the project. 

As a result of Cody’s lawsuit, the cost to the BOE was $20,000 in legal fees. 

Now we all know what happened next, Mondo USA didn’t have a clue when it came to installing North’s field and after 2 years and thousands of dollars later in litigation costs, the BOE dismissed Mondo USA from the project. 

In the mean time while all of this was going on, James Cody attended every BOE meeting to badger its members with “ I told you so” at every opportunity that was given. At one point the BOE offered Cody a chance to be a project consultant and to compensate him for his work but after all of his talk, he turned his back on the board. He was just happy grandstanding. 

Eventually, I.C. Improvements was finally awarded the contract to fix the field when they were the lowest bidder after the project was resubmitted for bidding by the BOE.  James Cody swooped in like a hero and rubbed it into the faces of the BOE members. North’s field was completed in time for last years Thanksgiving Day game. 

 It should be noted that the Middletown Board of Education is now in litigation against Mondo USA to recoup the $1 million that it paid Mondo and others for the work that was never finished on the field.  

Cody and the phony Recall Walsh petition

Another good reason not to support James Cody‘s candidacy for the Middletown Board of Education is last years phony recall petition against fellow BOE member Patricia Walsh. 

Patricia Walsh has been a stellar member of the BOE for the past dozen years; at one time she served as its president. Last year while she attempted to gain a seat on the township’s governing body, Cody decided that it was a good time to payback the BOE for all that he and IC Improvements went through to gain the contract on North’s field.  What better way to seek revenge and embarrass a member of the BOE than to head a recall effort against Walsh? 

James Cody, Anthony Testa, and Kathleen Bjelka (Cody’s sister), calling themselves the Committee to Recall, B. O. E. Member Pat Walsh, made a lot of noise by threatening to file a recall petition against Walsh. They issued press releases  that stated  absurd claims like she raised spending and taxes more than any official in Middletown history or that she was responsible for the botched turf field.  They had  plenty of help from the local GOP, who helped to fuel the attacks of Cody and friends to embarrass and slander her. 

In the end, James Cody and his Committee to Recall, B.O.E. Member Pat Walsh, never filed their petition. It was all an attempt to embarrass Pat Walsh and the Middletown Board of Education. 

So I ask you, is “big Jim” Cody really a person that should be sitting on the Board of Education? A man who lobbied the BOE to install artificial turf fields at our high schools in order to gain financially from the projects and when he was turned down for North’s field filed a lawsuit against the BOE that cost the tax payers $20,000.  Is the man that lead a phony recall effort against a sitting board member, in revenge for being turned down for a job on a turf field, have the integrity that is needed to be a member of that board? And if elected, could he serve along side the person that he slandered effectively? I think not. 

When I walk into the voting booth this afternoon, I will be remembering ABC, which is Anyone But Cody

 

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Filed under High School North, High School South, IC Improvements, James Cody, Middletown Board of Education, School Board elections, Turf project