Board Shifts Back To More Transparent Format

The Brick Board of Education (Photo by Judy Smestad-Nunn)

BRICK – After questions of transparency, the school board reverted to a previous system that allowed for immediate access to public documents.

The Board of Education has gone back to the practice of attaching PDF files on agenda items to be voted on, after an outgoing member questioned why the practice had stopped.

Former Board Member Karyn Cusanelli (whose term ended on December 31, 2016) said that PDF files had always been attached to agenda items for the public to review before a vote was taken, and she noticed the practice had stopped in recent months.

Cusanelli asked if there had been a decision made to change the format.

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Business Administrator James Edwards said the change had been made after a vendor complained that their contract, which contained a confidentiality clause, was on the board agenda and available for public view.

He said the contract was confidential until it was voted on and approved by the board at which time copies of contracts would be made available to the public.

Board President John Lamela said he would ask Board Attorney Nicholas Montenegro to provide a brief on the matter since “a definitive answer is needed in writing, because I’d like to see it, too.”

Since the January 7 meeting Lamela said he met with Cusanelli and each board member. “I have a commitment to transparency, and it’s something I strive for,” he said at the January 12 meeting.

Brick Board of Ed Building (Photo courtesy of Daniel Nee, Brick ShoreBeat)

“Case law says that you don’t have to [attach PDF files], but you could…so I have asked our attorney to review that…and we’ve done some research,” he said.

There was a short list of items that did not have a PDF file attached at the January 12 meeting, which included matters about individual students, employee contracts, union contracts and

any documents that require privacy and confidentiality, Lamela said.

School Retirements

In other news, a number of retirements were announced, and Board Member Sharon Cantillo noted that several of the staff members had put in 25 to 37 years, as did Lake Riviera Middle School health and physical education teacher, Paul Panuska.

“That’s epic; I don’t know how Lake Riviera will get along without him,” she said. “You know people love what they did, and I hope our new staff members love their career here in Brick just as much.”

Other retirements of note are Rick Handchen, athletic director at BTHS after 30 years; Barbara Meyer, who taught health and physical education at Brick Memorial High School for 35 years; and Gayle Walter, who taught second grade at Emma Havens Young and retired after 27 years.

Lamela noted that many of the teachers were graduates of Brick Township schools. “It’s a cycle that’s not broken. I’m proud of that,” he said.

Fall Sports Recognition for Brick High School and Brick Memorial High Schools was held at the beginning of the meeting, and coaches for football, basketball, gymnastics and much more gave out certificates to dozens of student athletes.

New Board Member Melita Gagliardi praised the coaches and called them advocates and role models for the students.

The next Board of Education meeting will be on February 9, and it will be held at Brick Memorial High School instead of the usual Brick High School.