LACEY – Wanted: New business administrator for the township’s school district.
It was noted during a recent Lacey School Board meeting that the school district’s search to replace Patrick S. DeGeorge, who serves as Business Administrator/Board Secretary is ongoing. Since no candidate has yet emerged the Board will have an interim administrator in place come July. DeGeorge’s last day is June 30.
“At this point we could not find one so we are looking for an interim to start on July 1,” Board member and Finance Committee Chair Donna McAvoy said.
She also reported that during a recent Finance Committee meeting, DeGeorge discussed this year’s proposed budget and compensation for certain employees including business office staff, custodians, transportation workers and the assistant superintendent. A public budget meeting was held on April 6 regarding details of this year’s spending plan.
Some residents expressed the desire to see the school district return to a public vote in April as opposed to its direct adoption by the board.
Ten years ago, all school board elections in New Jersey were moved to November, instead of April. At the same time, districts no longer put the budget out to voters, as long as the budget didn’t increase more than 2 percent. This was the result of state lawmakers.
There was criticism at the time this happened, because some residents felt they had less control over their local school boards. This feeling hasn’t gone away. At the Lacey meeting, resident Richard Bidnick remarked during the public comment period that he would like to see that change back to April to allow for a budget vote.
Vice Board President Edward Scanlon reminded Bidnick that this was a decision that would now fall into the hands of residents who would have to bring their cause to the Ocean County School Superintendent.
Term Limits For Board Members?
Some residents present at that meeting also expressed that they would like to see term limits imposed on those serving on the Board. They noted that members like Linda Downing, who is the longest serving member currently on the panel, had been there for 20 years. One resident called that, “ridiculous.”
The Board’s attorney however reminded the public that there was no mechanism by which the Board could impose a term limit restriction and that residents could vote out incumbents and support candidates of their own.
Alyssa’s Law Panic Alarm
The subject of school safety procedures came up during the meeting. McAvoy said that during the Finance Committee meeting, “we discussed Alyssa’s law (in which) all primary and secondary schools install a panic alarm device that can silently and directly contact law enforcement about a life-threatening situation or emergency.”
On February 6, 2019 New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy signed Alyssa’s Law. In addition the full cost to install this panic alarm system will be covered through the “Securing Our Children’s Futures bond referendum.”
The referendum was approved on November 6, 2018. The law has now been enacted in Florida and may soon be in every state in the U.S. It was named after Alyssa Alhadeff, a 14-year-old that was killed along with 16 others at Marjory Stoneman Public High School in Parkland Florida on Valentine’s Day, February 14, 2018. Thirty-four people were victims of this massacre. That includes 14 students, 14-18 years old along with three staff members who died.
She also reported that a township liaison meeting had been held with Committeeman Peter Curatolo where three items were discussed. “We discussed trash removal, school safety and security and the LEAD program and class III officers. The LEAD program (Leading for life) is an immersive learning experience that starts virtually for the first week followed by two weeks of residential at their assigned institution.”