The West New York Board of Education was mostly mum on the hiring of a new accountant, the same individual being blamed for the budget shortfall of at least $6 million at the Bayonne BOE.
Brian Buckley has drawn the ire of many in the Bayonne school district over their multi-million dollar budget shortfall that has led a state financial monitor to be appointed to the district.
He left the Bayonne BOE in January and was hired for five months by the West New York BOE at their January 18th meeting, effective February 1st at a salary of $54,000.
Hudson County View wanted to know if the job was advertised and if Buckley had any role in preparing the West New York school budget.
“My first question was: was this a position that was advertised in The Jersey Journal, the Hudson Reporter or any other publications?,” this reporter asked at last night’s meeting.
West New York BOE Counsel advised this speaker to continue the line of questioning and the board would respond accordingly if they felt a response was appropriate.
“My understanding was that he was hired as some sort of an account manager, something to do with finance, at the West New York Board of Ed – which makes sense. So I just wanted to see if he had a role in preparing this budget.”
West New York Superintendent of Schools Clara Brito Herrera said that the job was advertised and Buckley was interviewed for the position, which is the accounting manager of the West New York BOE, and added that the 2017-2018 school budget is balanced.
John Smith, a former BOE candidate and frequent critic of the administration, was the only other member of the audience who commented on Buckley, pointing out that he also left the Hoboken BOE in the midst of controversy.
“And also, what Mr. Heinis was saying, I’ll be honest with you: I did a little homework on him and he also resigned in Hoboken with issues as well,” Smith said.
“To my opinion, I would be very careful with that gentleman because what he’s done in Hoboken, and what he just did in Bayonne, and we don’t need that effect in this town.”
As previously reported, some Bayonne teachers were outspoken in their criticism of Buckley at the May 8th BOE meeting.
Gene Woods, a history teacher in Bayonne, was stunned that Buckley was not currently being charged with a crime or even being investigated.
“There are currently no charges, there is currently no investigation, in fact, the only thing that is going on right now is the audit,” said Bayonne BOE Counsel Mitch Pascual, noting that the board will not be taking any further action until the audit is complete.
Woods wasn’t thrilled with that answer and openly stated that he doubted anyone would ever be held accountable for the budget crisis.
“See, I’m a history teacher, so I go back to history and I go back and look at how things like this have been done. You can look back at previous presidencies where things like this have gone on and somebody takes the hit and then they walk away clean,” he stated.
“The fact that this guy did this, and now has a job, is absolutely amazing. If I misappropriated my funds in such a way, and I was affiliated with an organization that has millions of dollars, I’m a little curious what possibly would happen on my end. I’m pretty sure I’d be brought out in cuffs. But, I guess we’ll see what happens, probably nothing, that’s what I’m assuming.”
Joe Wyatt, another Bayonne teacher, praised current school district accountant Matt Bouldin, Buckley’s successor at the Bayonne BOE, and questioned how Buckley even got hired in the first place.
“… The previous account was totally inarticulate. And how the administration could let that person be in that position is unbelievable.”