About 250 people attended the last regular meeting of the board under the administration of Mayor Mark Smith in Bayonne High School’s Alexander X. O’Connor auditorium. Mayor James Davis and his administration were scheduled to be sworn into office on Tuesday, July 1.
“I come in support of the teachers in this room,” said Rafael Augusto, who works in education in Jersey City and is a former freeholder candidate. “They need and deserve a contract.”
Former Bayonne councilwoman Mary Jane Desmond urged the board to come to an agreement with the union.
“I’m asking everyone to be on their good behavior and get it done,” she said.
Board President William Lawson said that part of the problem is that Bayonne is one of the most underfunded school districts in the state.
He also said that D’Angelo turned down a contract recommendation by a state arbiter.
“We went to a fact finder,” Lawson said. “You requested that.”
Board member Michael Masone said D’Angelo was misrepresenting the facts in the contract negotiations.
Ava Finnerty, a teacher for 34 years who had planned on working for a few more, said it made more sense for her to retire than to stay on the job.
“Each year there is more and more demanded of the teachers,” Finnerty said. “It’s cheaper to retire than to teach. My pension will surpass my salary.”
Audience member Joey Frank said the meeting had more people attending than those in the past because of the change in administration.
“There are more and more people turning out at these meetings,” he said, “because they have restored faith.”
One of Mayor Davis’s themes during the election was more transparency in government.
Much of the crowd was bothered by the meeting’s late start—at 8 p.m.—followed by the immediate adjournment for the board to discuss personnel matters. The meeting resumed about 40 minutes after the second delay.
Board Secretary Dr. Gary Maita said the interruption for the private meeting was not a regular occurrence; it happened only a few times before. Maita said the board is required by law to start the meeting by 8 p.m.
“Sometimes we don’t get everything done in the time frame we want to,” he said.
Maita said a lot was packed into the June 26 meeting because of the school budget and because it was the end of the school year.