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 â€œI 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 standingâ€.
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 â€“ 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 weekâ€™s vote, obviously the debate does raise the question â€“ 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 Townâ€™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 Townâ€™s recreational program.
However, the Board has had enough, and is questioning why they should give the town $627K to pay for the townâ€™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):
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 schoolâ€™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.
West New York Resident