LETTER: West New York BOE justified in voting down shared services, resident says

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In a letter to the editor, West New York resident Kevin Livermore says that the local board of education was justified in voting down various shared service agreements last week. Kevin Livermore

Dear Editor,

I write to you as a resident of West New York, and a parent. Hopefully this letter can contribute to the current debate around the service agreements between the Board of Education and Town of West New York.

The NJ Code of Ethics for School Board Members states that “I will make decisions in terms of the educational welfare of children and will seek to develop and maintain public schools that meet the individual needs of all children regardless of their ability, race, creed, sex, or social standing”.

By voting down the 2017 service agreements with the town of West New York, it seems clear that trustees are staying true to the commitments they have made to prioritize the welfare of the children in town.

By raising awareness and starting the conversation around these highly unfair agreements, the trustees are doing their due diligence in managing a budget, and asking very relevant questions around the sums of money involved.

It seems pretty obvious that the trustees that voted against the 2017 agreements are not acting with malice – they are attempting to make a significant difference to our Board of Education by pushing back against the influence from the Town.

As outlined below, in 2016, the town paid the WNY Board of Education a total of $4 for four service agreements. Conversely, in 2016 the Board of Education paid the town a total of $1.5M for five service agreements.

In my opinion, the trustees are acting with courage and very honorable intentions in rejecting these agreements.

While some people focus on the services that are impacted by last week’s vote, obviously the debate does raise the question – why are some trustees comfortable with such an inequitable set of agreements?

How can it possibly be fair to have $4 going one way, and $1.5M going in the other direction?

Are the trustees that voted yes for these agreements really acting in the best interests of the children in town? Are they being impacted by pressures to vote in a particular way?

There has been considerable misinformation, and to hopefully clarify things: the Board of Education did not cancel the Town’s summer recreational program.

The Town is responsible for paying for recreation, not the BOE. As I understand it, the Board would certainly allow use of its facilities for the Town’s recreational program.

However, the Board has had enough, and is questioning why they should give the town $627K to pay for the town’s rec program.

West New York pays the Board of Education as follows (in 2016):

1. For the use of the 2nd floor of the bus garage on 53rd Street for juvenile detention: $1.00

2. For the use of the Blackboard connect to call parents and inform them about town events: $ 1.00

3. For the use of yellow buses to transport all recreation activities (teams, cheerleaders, seniors):

$1.00

4. For the use of the schools for town activities and recreation (MHS, Middle School, etc.): $1.00.

Total annual amount: $4.00

The Board of Education pays West New York as follows (in 2016):

1. For the school’s use of Donnelly Park, Miller Stadium, Miller Park, Centennial Field (Little League), the tennis courts at McEldowny Park, Washington Park, and Weigand Park: $607,584;

2. For the gas in school buses: $100,000;

3. For the DPW collecting garbage after lunch in the schools: $195,416;

4. For preparing the Miller Stadium field annually: $64,100;

5. For the service of Police officers in the schools: $515,568.

Total annual amount: $1,482,668

Renegotiating these agreements could help the Board of Education balance a difficult budget, which has seen disenfranchised teachers and support staff protesting in recent times.

In my mind, it is disingenuous to accuse trustees of deliberately causing services to be cancelled when it is blindingly obvious that these agreements are disgracefully inequitable.

School Board trustees should be single-mindedly focused on the school children in town, and questioning these agreements appears to be long overdue.

Yours truly,

Kevin Livermore

West New York Resident

9 COMMENTS

  1. Mr. Livermore, excellent explanation. I didn’t understand why Commissioner Cirillo was using alternative facts making it seem that the rec program would be impacted by this. WNY must pay the BOE fairly as well, of the four point list in my opinion only having police officers in the schools should be approved but clearly remind said officers that they are in the schools to protect our children, not as a hang out and should never again be seen just sitting browsing their cell phones.

    • The cops are asked to babysit disruptive kids when the teachers don’t want to deal with them, sign people in, help carry tables, etc. None of which is their job, but they do it. Don’t worry about a cop on a cell phone. Worry about the teacher teaching your kids. I want the cops to do cop stuff when and if the time arises.

      • Shooter walks in a school, cop is distracted from checking his Facebook status update looks up and saves the day? I don’t think so!

        I agree with you, lets ONLY have them doing cop stuff.

  2. I believe this particular resident seems to be misinformed. The only agreement that perhaps can be disputed is paying for having the stadium prepared. Last time I checked you have to pay money for gas so that’s justified, you have to pay money for police officers (unless Kevin feels they shouldn’t be there), and lastly you have to pay money to have people pick up your trash. (unless Kevin would be volunteering to pick up the trash from the schools) Seems to me this particular resident has a political bias in this letter but hey who knows? I’ll be waiting for his response

  3. RE: Concerned Resident

    Last time I checked you have to pay money, more than $1 for use of the 2nd floor of the bus garage on 53rd Street for juvenile detention, more than $1 for the use of the Blackboard connect to call residents and inform them about town events, more than $1 for the use of yellow buses to transport all recreation activities (teams, cheerleaders, seniors) and more than $1 for the use of the schools for town activities and recreation (MHS, Middle School, etc.). Tax dollars should not be funneled form the BOE to the town, the BOE should not be subsidizing the Town’s Rec program. Seems to me this particular Concerned Resident has a political bias in this post but hey who knows?

  4. For the service of Police officers in the schools: $515,568.

    It will be cheaper to hire security staff for the boe instead of paying uniform police officers. Is a lot of dough for 4 police officers.

  5. This is that Waterfront guy that cancelled the WNYPD Community Affairs event because he didn’t want “those people from up there to come down to the waterfront.” He’s also the guy trying to build a Charter School to use BOE public school funds while he and his hedge fund cronies make $ because he doesn’t want his precious kids going to the same schools as our kids “from up there.” Another disingenuous self-serving hypocrite trying to muddy the waters and “wag the dog.”

    Hey Mr. Snooty: our kids are as good as yours and we aren’t falling for your bait and switch scam! You send your kids to $1000 per week camps while the “people from up there”, yes, the real West New Yorkers, need our recreation program for the summer. We don’t drink fancy liquor or the such, but we aren’t stupid. You don’t give a damn about the kids of this community, nor do you care about their safety. You’re an opportunist sir, with your puppet Chang on the board. Go back where you came from and stop using our kids as political pawns.

    #queenstoqueensLevel3checkmate

    • Why aren’t you as outraged with the fact the the BOE subsidizes $1.5m to the town that could be used to improve our schools that still need so much, while the town only pays the BOE $4 four using the school’s facilities. This is what this debate is all about, the town raiding our schools.

  6. Sue Mary Either A. Your not from WNY, B. You live on the waterfront or C. you have no clue what so ever. There are 10 schools in the town of WNY and each has a very highly trained police officer in them. If you think for one minute that a security guard can do the job of a police officer then you are truly a person who should watch the news a little more because its not getting better out there.
    WNYALL I believe the police are not the only people who check their cell phones for messages. I’m sure if you are married, have children and a cell phone you get messages and phone calls at different times. So next time your wife or kids text or phone you don’t answer it and hope its not an emergency.

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