NJ School Boards Musketeers

Marie Bilik, Executive Director of New Jersey School Boards Association, has been busy defending the honor of NJ’s 4800 school board members as our public schools wilt under poorly-rendered legislation from the State, bad press from sketchy contracts, school construction controversies, and rising school taxes. In an “Open Public Letter” this week she quoted NJSBA President Harry Delgado, who neatly sums up the home rule/state rule dilemma: Local school governance is under attack. State officials …

Bad Case Law

The North Jersey Record gives some more details on the lawsuit filed by NJASA against the State for unconstitutionally infringing on its members’ right to negotiate contracts. Judge Joel A. Pisano of U.S. District Court delayed any court ruling until October 3d in the hopes that the two sides will come to a resolution. From the Record: In District Court on Wednesday, Judge Joel A. Pisano called the case “a very hot issue,” referring to …

Feds Take a Pass

Last night a federal court ruled that the State DOE had indeed overstepped its power by trying to regulate superintendents’ contracts. The suit against the State was filed by NJASA, the group representing superintendents and administrators in New Jersey, which held that such regulation was unconstitutional. Right-0, said the Feds. But the US District Court held open the option of giving the State some oversight. The DOE had been responding to a plethora of bad …

Easy Come, Easy Go

The New York Times reports today on an ongoing dispute about the economics and politics of school construction in New Jersey, specifically the allocation of billions of dollars to renovate old buildings rather than addressing educational shortcomings. On the side of home rule, we have Steven Lonegan, state director of Americans for Prosperity, a conservative group that advocates limits on government, who has sued to block the sale of bonds to finance school construction. Mr. …

Check Your Blind Spot

New Jersey’s 615 school districts weep inefficiency. So it’s old news that the State is pushing hard on mergers of smaller towns. The Burlington County Times reports on a proposed merger of Pemberton Borough and Pemberton Township, and if any merger is going to be easy, this should be the one. First of all, all of the kids in Pemberton Borough already attend the Pemberton Township schools, and have been doing so for two years. …

Have They Tried Craigslist?

A report in the Atlantic City Press on a new superintendent in Atlantic County takes note of the high turnover rate of superintendents in NJ. According to the Press, In school year 2007-2008, almost 22 percent of superintendents left the job in New Jersey, double the rate the year before, and the highest since the No Child Left Behind legislation took effect in 2001, according to data provided by the New Jersey School Boards Association. …

Park Place or Baltic Avenue?

Word has leaked out that the DOE will soon be issuing a boiler-plate contract for local districts to use for their superintendents. Reportedly, the State will also direct salary ranges based on region. It’s unclear how this will work. For example, Atlantic County has about 30 school districts, from little Absecon School District with about 800 kids to much larger districts like Egg Harbor and Atlantic City, with respectively augmented responsibilities. And how about Newark, …

More on School Board liability

The Star-Ledger reports on the liability of the Newark School Board in the case of the survivors of three college students who were fatally shot in the playground of the Mount Vernon School in Newark’s Ivy Hill neighborhood on August 4th, 2007. Relatives of the slain students filed a civil suit “alleging that the school board failed to provide adequate security in the playground, despite knowledge of serious criminal threats arising from nearby streets.” The …

Keansburg update

The Asbury Park Press reports today that the DOE’s case against the Keansburg superintendent, who is due to receive $184,586 in unused sick days and vacation time and another $556,290 in severance pay, has been sent to State Superior Court in Monmouth. The DOE’s case is against both former superintendent Barbara A. Trzeszkowski and the Keansburg Board of Education, and seeks to revoke the severance pay. The Attorney General’s brief explains: For a school board …

Poached Eggs

The Star-Ledger reported yesterday that three Freehold Regional School administrators were ordered to strip the “Ph.D” from their titles after news broke that they received raises because of doctorates received from an unaccredited diploma mill called Breyer State University. This edict came down from the NJ Commission on Higher Education, which sent “cease and desist” letters to the egg-faced administrators. (No joke. The Asbury Park Press reported the following anecdote back in July: Wasser has …