Wednesday, August 31, 2016
BOE Workshop / Voting Meeting - August 24, 2016
It took me a few days to get through this video of August 24th, Middletown Board of Education (BOE) meeting. The video is a little more than 2 hours long and kept freezing up on me during playback.
The video is pretty standard stuff but an interesting discussion peaked my interest concerning shared services. It seems from the 25 minute conversation that took place between the 1:31 - 1:55 mark of the video, that information isn't being disseminated properly between board members.
Board members, Sue Griffin and Joan Minnuies questioned why they weren't informed about the Board being approached by the Township Committee about potentially leasing classroom space at Croydon Hall (presumably in the vacated building that was the temporary home of the all girls school Trinity Hall), for market value or near market value. Minnuies questioned why the Board would be interested in such a lease? She added that she hoped that if the Board was interested in such a lease, now or in the future, that the lease arrangement would be more favorable seeing how the Board of Education currently leases one of it's buildings, the old Lincroft Library, to the town for $1 a year.
Vinnie Brand, the Board Chairman of the Shared Services committee, with added input from Board President Jim Cody and School Superintendent Dr. George, insisted that there was nothing of significance to report to the rest of the board. The topic was brought up nonchalantly and in passing by Township Committeeman Tony Fiore ( I believe), a few weeks prior and was turned down due to the fact that the Board wasn't interested in leasing any space at Croydon Hall, now or in the future. The point and discussion therefore was moot.
The discussion then turned towards the potential of a new sports field at Thorne Middle School, where again, Joan Minnuies stated that she knew nothing about.
From what I gathered, the Board has ~ $60K leftover from the work done on the fields over at Nutswamp School and wants to use that money over at Thorne. Apparently, during discussions with the Township Committee and Town Administrator Tony Mercantante, it was mentioned that the township had some fill material from some dredge project that the school district could have in order to raise the level of the fields, which would help offset the costs of the new field.
After going back and forth on the subject, which left me with more questions, it was decided that the Shared Services committee would do a better job of informing other board members of future discussions.
Here are my thoughts on the whole discussion.
As for the potential of the Township looking to lease available classroom/office space at Croydon Hall to someone is troublesome. The Croydon Hall complex is deemed as a Green Acres site and open space. The DEP was/is withholding nearly $1M of Green Acres funding from the Township due to issues surrounding the lease of one of the buildings to house Trinity Hall and other unrelated issues. The school district is wise to stay clear of that situation.
As for the field over at Thorne School, it's no secret that the BOE and Township Committee, has been hot and heavy to spend $800K - $1M on a new sports field for Thorne, even though the field abuts up to wetlands and is deemed environmentally sensitive by the DEP. Approval for permits on a such field improvements would cost thousands of dollars and take a few years to get, in which case, the $60K that the BOE has leftover from the Nutswamp project would be better spent elsewhere in my opinion.
See what you think, watch the video and form your own opinion.