CARTERET–The Carteret Board of Education has not yet taken action to reauthorize an inter-local shared services agreement that has been in place for the past seven years but expired on Dec. 31, 2012. The agreement allowed the Borough of Carteret to provide school security, use of borough athletic fields, busing services for special education students and safety guards for children traveling to and from school.
“This is basically the same agreement that we have provided to the Board of Education for years and it is essential to the Borough’s continued performance of these functions on behalf of the students.” said Patrick DeBlasio, the borough’s chief financial officer.
“Unfortunately, I am hearing that the new Board [of Education] majority is considering ending their partnership with the borough by voting down the agreement at the Jan. 30, 2013 meeting.” said Mayor Daniel J. Reiman
The borough has continued to provide services to the school district in anticipation that shared services agreement would be renewed.
Reiman indicated that the most immediate result of a rejection of the agreement by the Board of Education would be an end to borough-provided security in the schools. “In the wake of the Sandy Hook school shooting people are calling for increased security in school facilities. We have been providing this to our schools for almost a decade. In addition to civilian security guards and full time police which are employed by the Borough and assigned to the schools, we also have police officers teaching classes through the DARE program and a presence at after school functions. It is unconscionable to think that this Board would move in the opposite direction when it comes to the safety of our children.”
Reiman also pointed out that a failure to act favorably in the agreement would result in much more far reaching impact on students. “This agreement allows us to provide our athletic fields for use by our school sports teams. The borough uses the funds provided to maintain these facilities during the school sports seasons. We also make our buses available to the schools to transport athletes and students to many different functions. All of this will come to an end if the board members reject the agreement.”
Council President Joseph “Skippy” Sitarz echoed the Mayors concerns, “They will not be voting against some meaningless financial arrangement. The will be voting against student safety, they will be voting against our student athletes and they will be voting against all of the student clubs and activities that rely on these services.”
Reiman noted that a 2008 audit of the shared services agreement found that the borough provided $1.6 million in services while billing the Board of Education only $750,000.
In preparation for an adverse decision by the school board, DeBlasio communicated by letter with school safety workers currently employed by the borough. “If the School Board votes to cancel this agreement and fails to provide the reimbursement funding for your services they will be effectively eliminating your position.” DeBlasio wrote.
The inter-local agreement provides the following services to the Board of Education:
- 6 civilian school security at all schools
- 2 full time police at the High School and Middle School
- Busing for in-district special needs students on buses owned and operated by the borough and staffed by 2 Borough bus drivers and 2 bus aides
- Utilization of borough gas pumps for Board of Education equipment and vehicles
- DARE officers
- Sanitation and recycling pick up
- Use and maintenance of all parks fields owned by the borough and used by the school athletic programs
- 29 school traffic safety guards surrounding all schools
“In my opinion, the current school board majority is allowing politics to cloud their judgment and in the process directly hurting the borough’s children and taxpayers.” Reiman added, “I have made it clear that I do not agree with their policies and I believe that several members of the Board of Education have ethical and legal conflicts when dealing with the borough. However, I still believe that in the end everyone should be working together to do what is right for the students. It is clear that the current school board majority does not.”
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