LBI School District Answers Resident’s Concerns

Jan 24, 2018

The Long Beach Island Consolidated Board of Education at its first regular meeting of the new year responded to a local resident’s take on three issues he believes are directly linked to the board’s accountability.

Steve Moser, a Ship Bottom resident, read from a prepared statement during the first public comment portion of the meeting, addressing the board on fiscal responsibility, a failed state inspection of district school buses and public expectations.

On the board’s Jan. 16 agenda for consideration was the sale of a van to the Stafford Township School District for $1. Moser questioned the fiscal soundness of selling a van for a $1 when the NADA value is $2,000.

“Why sell the van at such a loss if we are in a financial crisis,” he asked. “We need to sell our surplus equipment at the most we can given our financial situation.”

District Administrator Megan Gally said the van was sold to the Stafford district because it can no longer be used to service Island students, and it will be used in Stafford’s maintenance department.

Although she argued the blue book value of the van was $864, not $2,000 as stated by Moser, she did agree the district could absolutely sell the van for fair market value and add the money to its coffers.

“I stand behind my proposal to give this van to that district,” said. “It's a goodwill gesture to a district that has helped us out.”

The most recent help came when the district found four of its seven buses out of service due to a failed state inspection earlier this month. Stafford lent buses to transport students to and from school while the district worked to return the buses to service.

The bus situation, as Moser called his next point, occurred Jan. 2 and was mentioned at the board’s reorganization meeting that same night by a board member. When Moser inquired about it, according to his prepared statement, he was told one bus was out of service with a mechanical issue and the district needed to borrow a bus from a neighboring district.

“Today, from information published by a former BOE member, all the big buses owned and operated by the district had failed a state safety inspection. This is a huge difference from one bus with a mechanical issue,” Moser said, noting the former school board member said the buses failed because the inspection was sooner than the district anticipated. “As a parent I expect all of our buses to be able to pass a safety inspection on a moment’s notice.”

After reviewing the recording of the reorganization meeting, it’s clear Superintendent Peter Kopak acknowledged the district had “bus issues today so we had to borrow from other districts.” There was no mention of the number of buses that failed inspection. At last week’s meeting, Gally said the inspection occurred earlier than anticipated.

“It was much ado about nothing,” board President James Donahower said of the bus situation. “The big deal is that people want to make it a big deal.”

Lastly, Moser addressed a phrase mentioned in the school board recognition resolution about the board’s obligation to convey to the administration the public’s expectations for the schools.

“I am sure we can all agree the past referendum conveyed a clear message to the board as to the public’s expectations,” he said. “With this in mind the buildings, grounds and transportation committee has been held by the same members and following a tract not in the public’s favor for a number of years. In a past board meeting, the building, grounds and transportation chairperson said, and I paraphrase, that they were behind the superintendent and backing him on his vision for the future of the school.”

Moser suggested the building, grounds and transportation committee needs to be completely overhauled with representatives from Long Beach Township, Ship Bottom and Surf City, who would act on behalf of the public.

Donahower thanked him for his input, but said the board doesn’t accept public recommendations for how it should set up its committees.

— Gina G. Scala

ggscala@thesandpaper.net

 

 

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