Point By Point Response

Aug 09, 2017

To the Editor:

I am the vice president of the Stafford Township Board of Education and would like to respond to a letter from Lisa Mastroianni (“Address Grievances,” 8/2).

First and foremost, the board and superintendent always have the best interests of the students in the Stafford Township School District at heart.

Lisa Mastroianni, you stated that you started to come to meetings because of the turmoil bestowed on the staff. You did not state what the turmoil was. If it had to do with some involuntary transfers, studies have shown that it is in the best interest of the students to occasionally move staff into different positions. Employees in all careers probably since the beginning of time have been transferred in their jobs. Unfortunately, some people accept change and some do not.

You were also concerned about two lawyers being in attendance. Lawyers are always in attendance at school board meetings. Unfortunately, we had to have our labor attorney at meetings because of questions being asked about personnel and Stafford Township Education Association negotiations.

You also were concerned about sidebar conversations. I assume you were referring to board members, not people in attendance. I don’t think I have ever attended a meeting either on the board or in my professional career where sidebar conversations did not take place. These conversations usually are very positive and productive.

You mentioned self-justifying commentaries. Again, you don’t say by whom so I have to assume you mean board members or the superintendent. What you don’t mention is that they may have been in response to verbal attacks, of which some were personal by people in attendance. Unfortunately, we have to sit up there and take it.

You stated that decisions are made behind closed doors. The only decisions made in closed session (not behind closed doors) are what we can’t discuss by law in public.

You said the teachers are working without a contract. This is not true. They are working under the terms and conditions of the existing contract. This means that they are still being paid and receiving benefits as well as anything else they are entitled to.

You should know that the STEA signed a memorandum of agreement back in October 2016. There is one issue having to do with salary guides that they have not responded back to the board with after many requests since that date. The STEA has not put the new contract to their membership to vote on. Be assured that when STEA members ratify the contract they will get everything coming to them.

You also had concerns about the superintendent’s new contract. If you did some homework you would have found that the salary cap and guidelines that Gov. Christie put on superintendent salaries about five years ago was rescinded on May 1, 2017 and replaced with new guidelines. We are not the only district in the state that has given new contracts. In July the Little Egg Harbor school board gave their superintendent a new contract to comply with the new guidelines.

I take personal offense to your statement about robotic votes and being subservient to the superintendent. You have no idea how much (volunteered) time, effort and research we put into making our decisions, which are always in the best interest of the students, and believe me, none of us is subservient to anyone.

I agree with our board president’s statement that the public that he comes in contact with, and I can say that everyone that I come in contact with, has confidence in the board and supports us.

Lastly, please don’t ever question the character or integrity of board members or administrators, as you did in a broad statement without any basis or facts.

Rich Czajkowski



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