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.


Anonymous said...

Is that dredged material coming out of Shadow Lake? It is filled with arsenic and should not be used. Extreme caution should be used when it comes to this "shared services" committee. They don't even communicate with other board members, let alone the public. Who are they serving anyway??? Certainly not the people.

Michael Morris said...

Not sure what the "dredged" material is or where it would be coming from. It very well could be some type of landfill from somewhere but the word dredged was used in the video

Anonymous said...

The township should move the dapartments back in that were there before Trinity Hall took over the place. This will let the library reopen the branches that were closed to make room for Trinity Hall at Croydon Hall. Our children need local libraries to go to to do research for school. It was great when the branches were open. Now we have to drive half way across town, which reduces the time the children get to do their work.

Anonymous said...

You want to see what this confrontation and complaint by Joan Minnuies was all about? Go to 1:35:15 and watch how Joan reacts when her pal on the board speaks up and agrees with her. Joan takes off her glasses, looks towards the audience and smiles. She has accomplished her goal of trying to make the other board members look bad. She can’t help herself, she looks like the cat who swallowed the canary.

She is complaining about not receiving information that was not discussed in the shared services committee, required no action by the BOE and in fact information that she had in her hand.

You need to stop playing into Joan’s hand Mike. She is playing you like a fiddle.
Joan is all about putting on a public show to make herself look good by making other people look bad. She is a sick puppy who has long since worn out her welcome on the BOE.

This was not an agenda item up for vote. This should have been handled in the closed session portion of the meeting outside of the public view. This is exactly the type of thing that Andy Nicholes said was wrong with the current BOE and what he said he wanted to change. This happens at every meeting. Joan is a destructive force who has zero respect for the administration and also for some of her fellow BOE members.

Mike, you have often accused the BOE of being dysfunctional.I think it is great that you are finally paying attention to what takes place at the meetings. The more you watch, the more you learn, the more you will realize that the perception that he board is dysfunctional is a direct result of Joan Minnuies' public attempts to make it appear that way.

Michael Morris said...

I'm not a big Joan Minnuies fan, she is as much the problem as she is the solution to the BOE disfunction.

Joan wasn't the only one complaining, Sue Griffin also stated that information was passed on.

Joan isn't playing anyone like a fiddle, especially me.This type of discussion is exactly what needs to be had out in the open. The public has the right to know what is going on behind closed doors, especially since there are no minutes available for the public to know what exactly is being discussed.

There should be open discussions in public whether they are pretty or not, otherwise there is no transparency.

I would say that a lot of this could be gone over during executive session before the open meetings but it doesn't seem like, from the comments of Jim Cody, that some members care whether or not they attend executive session because their time is too valuable. If that is the case then they shouldn't be on the board in the first place.

Anonymous said...

There is the perception that the BoE "shared services" committee exists only to subsidize the township budget. The BoE can lease a building to the township for $1 a year, but the township wants to lease a building for market rate. I agree that the BoE should take back their building and get the library back into the building in Lincroft. This will enhance the learning experience of the students. The other 2 branches should reopen, as well. Our BoE should be advocating this for every student.

Anonymous said...

How can the Board have $60K left over from the Nut Swamp project when township funds were used for the fields there? Maybe that $60K should be used to pay off the debt incurred by the Board. Or, that could be the salary of a teacher.

Anonymous said...

“I'm not a big Joan Minnuies fan, she is as much the problem as she is the solution to the BOE disfunction.”

Why do you insist on perpetuating this myth that the BOE is dysfunctional?
The superintendent proposed items to the board to vote on and the board approved them. Even Joan voted to approve them.The BOE is functioning quite well.

You’re new to this Mike, you just started watching the videos and noticing how the BOE works. You weren’t paying attention when we had five superintendents in as many years. We couldn’t even pay interim superintendents to stick around and put up with Joan's BS. It wasn’t worth $600 a day to deal with the aggravation she caused for them. You didn’t see how Joan made their jobs impossible because she had recruited her friends to run for the board and she had the majority and the ability to thwart any effort the super made to improve the district. THAT’S when the BOE was dysfunctional, it’s not dysfunctional now. 2010 just called Mike, they want their adjective back.

In a recent article of yours about our “dysfunctional” BOE you stated:

“The alleged riff between board members………… is apparent and in full display; bickering between the two sides, in public (or behind closed doors ) is disgraceful and unprofessional.”

Now you say:

“There should be open discussions in public whether they are pretty or not, otherwise there is no transparency.”

Do you just like to hear yourself talk Mike? Which is it “disgraceful” or a sign of “transparency” when the board disagrees publicly?

Stick around, you will eventually catch on Mike. Joan has always complained about not receiving information, and she has always been told that she has it and that she had it, just as she was told the other night.

My wife is always complaining to me that I don’t "pay enough attention" to her. Constantly complaining about something doesn’t make it true Mike, and the next time I run into Whatshername I’m going to tell her as much.

What ever happened with the charges filed against Joan by Vinnie Brand? I believe they were filed in October 2015. The ethics board has decided on matters that were presented to them as recently as April of this year.

What’s going on?

Michael Morris said...

Yes, bickering in public (or behind closed doors ) is disgraceful and unprofessional, that's true and how I feel. The bickering, sighs, eye rolling and yelling at each other happens because there is no respect shown to others or their opinions, between board members. That is where the dysfunction takes place and it bleeds over and cause hard feelings.

There should be open discussion, in public, of information that relevant to the tax payers of this town. Tax payers of Middletown deserve to know what's being discussed when. If information is not protected by confidentiality concerns then it should be discussed in the open for public consumption.

As for Joan's antics and the number of Superintendents that the town went through between the resignation of Karen Bilboa and current Superintendent Bill George, they have been well documented and i've written about it. I am not and haven't been a "Mikeycomelately" as you like to think.

The reason why the School Ethics Board hasn't ruled on the multiple charges filed by Vinnie Brand against Joan is anyone's guess. It could be they are still considering what's to be done or they have decided that the charges are without merit. In which case, there would be no announcement. The Ethics Board does not comment on pending cases and only comments on cases that they have taken action on. So, you tell me.

Anonymous said...

Keep watching the videos Mike. Right now you have a snapshot of what is going on. Over time you will begin to see a pattern emerge and you will see the big picture as these public meetings are constantly derailed by Joan and Sue complaining about imaginary things concerning the other board members and the administration.

Perhaps the ethics committee has not ruled on Joan’s charges because it is not a single complaint. As I understand it there were at least three distinct, long overdue ethics charges filed against her.