School board members put the taxpayers first
Sep 02, 2012 | 1551 views | 0 0 comments | 5 5 recommendations | email to a friend | print

Dear Editor:

I want to thank the four Jersey City school board members (Marilyn Roman, Sterling Waterman, Angel Valentin, Vidya Gangadin) for having common sense and professionalism to vote against the superintendent’s contract on Aug. 15. While they are under immense pressure from the community and their political supporters, they stayed true to their campaign platform of fiscal responsibility. These four members are putting the needs of the children in this district and taxpayers first!

What’s wrong with the contract? No performance standards (benchmarks) including betterment of student performance. No evaluators of how we will assess effectiveness. Essentially, no measure of success! The other four board members want us to blindly support a contract without requirements, assuming that Dr. Lyles will agree to “something” down the track but not a single board member can tell me what they’ll do if they cannot reach an agreement with her! A signed contract and nothing stipulated, means no recourse, and we could even be sued! Merit pay should only be offered in the third and fourth year, if at all. It will take at least until the third year to see results.

Add a termination clause to protect the district in the event we must terminate the contract. The only way we can terminate now is if she is arrested or if she decides to give three months’ notice. If we’re not happy, we would have to buy-out a four year contract!

Add a clause that prevents closure of multiple schools! When poor performing schools close, a skewing of data occurs giving an impression that test results improved but really you’ve just removed low results from the aggregate percentage! Next is overcrowding, that leads to the need for new charter schools.

The contract term should be aligned with school year dates and not rounded to four years. Vacation days should not be permitted to roll over at 100 percent from the third year into the fourth to be amassed as a lump sum; accrued sick leave should not be paid at the per diem rate; back-pay for time the superintendent has spent here during the interview stage should not happen; the transportation clause needs amending to state that the district car must be used as primary business car and reimbursement for personal car use in emergencies only to stop “double dipping.”

A politician declared that only a small “vocal minority” supports these four board members in demanding revisions to the contract but he is wrong! At the most recent meeting (Aug. 22) the “vocal minority” came in with a resounding 1,015 signatures compared with 496 supporting no change! Most of the 1,015 signatures came from outside of Ward E and the message is clear: “Most people expect fiscal responsibility from this board and most people expect a contract to be presented that protects the needs of the children in our district.”

Board members – you are what is standing between right and wrong here!

With Absolute Appreciation,
Gina Ho
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