Friday, October 19, 2012

Roxbury CARE Takes Down Website After Being Accused of Spreading Inaccurate Information



After being accused of reporting inaccurate information at a recent board meeting, it appears the three school board candidates, running for school board as the slate "CARE", have decided to take down their website from the public's view. The website address waswww.roxburycare.com

Prior to last week, school board candidates Volz, Coakley and Casola were reporting the following information on their website:
Because of budget defeats and the governor's cuts, Roxbury Schools have suffered the following:
  • The dismissal of 51 staff members including teachers, aides, secretaries, a vice principal and transportation staff.
  • Funding was cut to the transportation budget ($275,000) thereby forcing the department to reschedule some bus routes.
  • The Board of Education is forced to consider outsourcing transportation and other services.
  • Guidance services have been reduced K to 12.
  • Technology has been scaled back.
  • There is now a 400 to 1 ratio of students to administrators at the high school.
  • Students have to pay to participate in sports and clubs. Often parents are paying significantly more for pay- to-play than they would have paid in tax increases if the budget had passed.
  • Repairs in all of our school buildings are past due because there just isn't enough money to do them.

"Most of these accusations are just plain false." stated Fran Day, Roxbury TEAM candidate
for Roxbury School Board. Day went on to say, "Superintendent of Schools, Patrick Tierney confirmed at this week's board meeting that technology had not been scaled back. Actually, every classroom is now equipped with a smart board which greatly enhances learning."
 
"The school board has not lost 51 staff members this or any year." stated Garry DeFilippis, Roxbury TEAM candidate for Roxbury School Board. "Although it is true the school board outsourced several custodial positions over the past two years, past Roxbury Schools Superintendent Jim O'Neil confirmed previously that the district added 6 teaching staff members in 2010 / 2011 and then reduced the teaching staff by 6 in 2011 / 2012. This much smaller reduction was because of declining enrollment, not because of failed budgets."

Garry DeFilippis went on to say, "The New Jersey Department of Education website states that the student to administrator ratio for the district was 178 to 1 in 2009 / 2010 and 188 to 1 in 2010 / 2011. The current school board has actually added administrative costs, not reduced them."

Current school board member Chris Rogers said, "The policy called Pay To Play has NOT been eliminated. It has only been put on hold for three years, mainly because Roxbury TEAM made it a campaign issue during last year's election. Soon after, school board member Maureen Castriotta and I advocated the total elimination of the policy. There is more than enough money generated in the budget every year. Pay To Play should be eliminated once and for all. There is no need to scare parents with the possibility of paying extra fees even if the school board does not increase the tax levy year after year."

Although it is unclear if the Roxbury CARE candidates were purposefully trying to mislead the public, it is clear that many of the facts they reported on their website and in the recent newspaper article are false. The CARE website, run by wife of current school board member Ron Lucas could not be reached via email for comment.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

DeFilippis, Gariola and Day Welcome Debate

Roxbury School Board candidates, Garry DeFilippis, Michael Gariola and Fran Day are looking forward to a debate. The problem? The Roxbury Parent Teacher Association scheduled a debate for October 10th without first checking the availability of the candidates.
 
DeFilippis, Gariola and Day will be speaking at the Roxbury and Mount Arlington Consolidation event on the same date. Kendall Warsaw, current PTA leadership, and former 2008 candidate for the Board of Education, has been asked to consider a date change, but after numerous requests, no new date is forthcoming.
 
"We want to have a debate. It gives residents a chance to hear what we have to offer, and how we want to make Roxbury's school system the best there is." stated Garry DeFilippis, Roxbury School Board candidate.
 
DeFilippis, Gariola and Day were invited to another debate by the Roxbury Tea Party, and will be attending. Fred Snowflack, journalist for the Bergen County Record, will moderate that event, scheduled for Monday, October 29th, at 7PM in the Roxbury Public Library. CARE candidates, Leo Coakley, Margaret Casola, and Marty Volz were invited, but as of this writing, they have not accepted.




Thursday, October 4, 2012

Roxbury School Board Candidates Debate Scheduled for Monday, October 29th at 7pm


 
The six Roxbury School Board candidates: Leo Coakley, Margaret Casola, Marty Volz, Garry Defilippis, Michael Gariola and Fran Day been invited by the Roxbury TEA Party to debate the important issues relating to Roxbury student, parents, taxpayers and voters.

There are three seats open on the Roxbury School Board this year.  Leo Coakley, Margaret Casola, Marty Volz are running as a slate called Roxbury CARE which stands for “Concerned Advocates for Roxbury Education.”  Garry DeFilippis, Michael Gariola and Fran Day are running as a slate called Roxbury TEAM which stands for “Roxbury Taxpayers’ Education Association Members.”

The candidates will be asked about topics such as educational quality, school funding, tenure reform, property taxes, shared services, administrative costs and the proposed Roxbury and Mount Arlington consolidation.

The debate will be held on Monday, October 29th at 7pm at the Roxbury Public Library located at 103 Main Street in Succasunna. The debate, which is open to the public, will be moderated by Fred Snowflack, journalist for the Bergen County Record.  This event is free, but seating is limited.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Group discusses consolidation of Roxbury, Mount Arlington Oct. 10 - New Jersey Hills Newspaper: Roxbury Register News

Group discusses consolidation of Roxbury, Mount Arlington Oct. 10 - New Jersey Hills Newspaper: Roxbury Register News: ROXBURY TWP. -- Gina Genovese, executive director of Courage to Connect New Jersey, will be the featured speaker at a public forum beginning a…

Roxbury and Mount Arlington Consolidation Commission to Begin October 10th at 6:30pm

Roxbury TEAM members Chris Rogers, Ralph Nappi, Virginia Mushinski and Independent candidate for Morris County Freeholder, Maureen Castriotta, will be hosting an open meeting for Roxbury and Mount Arlington residents to discuss the proposed study to connect municipal and school functions in both towns in an effort to achieve improved efficiency and savings. The event will be held on Wednesday, October 10th at 6:30pm at the Roxbury Public Library, 103 Main St. Succasunna.  
Gina Genovese, former Mayor of Long Hill, will be our keynote speaker. Gina is the founder and Executive Director of Courage to Connect NJ www.couragetoconnectnj.org, which helps NJ's municipalities analyze the feasibility of consolidation. Princeton Borough and Princeton Township conducted the study in 2011, and implemented their consolidation with favorable results. Fanwood and Scotch Plains are in the process of appointing their study commissioners, after successfully petitioning the state for a municipal consolidation study.

Fred Lange and Don Parisi will discuss the ongoing, two-year process in Scotch Plains and Fanwood, as well as provide some guidance on how a similar effort can begin in Roxbury and Mount Arlington.

Fran Day, Garry DeFilippis and Michael Gariola, this year's Roxbury School Board candidates, also share TEAM's goal to improve educational quality in our school by eliminating waste, lowering property taxes and directing savings to the classroom. They will be speaking at the event, and are interested in meeting with residents to hear their thoughts and ideas.

Independent Morris County Freeholder candidate and current Roxbury School Board member Maureen Castriotta has also recently joined the committee. "We are glad to have Maureen on board as she has proven over and over again that she is interested in creating results and not just talking about them." said Chris Rogers, Roxbury TEAM Secretary.

"At the very least, it is in the best interest of both the Roxbury and Mount Arlington taxpayers to conduct the study. We believe a substantial amount of tax dollars can be saved by consolidating." stated Virginia Mushinski, Roxbury resident and TEAM Vice President.

Find out how we, too, can achieve success on October 10th.

Monday, September 24, 2012

School Board Candidates Debate Scheduled for Monday, October 29th at 7pm

Roxbury School Board candidates Garry Defilippis, Michael Gariola and Fran Day have accepted an invitation from the Roxbury TEA Party to debate their opponents on the important issues relating to Roxbury student, parents, taxpayers and voters. 

The debate will be held on Monday, October 29th at 7pm at the Roxbury Public Library located at 103 Main Street in Succasunna.  The debate, which is open to the public, will be moderated by Fred Snowflack, journalist for the Bergen County Record. 

Monday, September 10, 2012

Roxbury School Board Candidate Fran Day To Be Honored By The New Jersey Foundation for Open Government

 
Roxbury School Board candidate Fran Day will be honored at the 2012 New Jersey Foundation for Open Government Annual Workshop and Awards Ceremony for her use of the Open Public Records Act to expose excessive and wasteful legal fees authorized by the majority of the Roxbury School Board over the past two years.

In 2010, the majority of the Roxbury School Board attempted to censure school board Maureen Castriotta as a tactic to limit Castriotta's speech as she spoke out against a student walk out. Some say the student walk out was organized by school administration as a response to Governor Christie's budget cuts. 

As a result, the Roxbury School Board spent between 50 and 150 thousand dollars in taxpayer funds for legal fees to censure Ms. Castriotta, and then defend their wrongful actions which were later overturned by an administrative law judge.

The actions were deemed so malicious that now the Roxbury School Board must even reimburse Ms. Castriotta for her own legal fees.

Fran Day was vigorous in finding out just how much money was being wasted as part of this clear attempt to silence those who were opposed to a majority school board many have said is out of touch with the taxpayers of Roxbury. 

Please join us in congratulating Fran on this great achievement.

Fran Day is running with Garry DeFillippis and Michael Gariola for the three open seats on the Roxbury School Board this November.



PRESS RELEASE ATTACHED



New Jersey Foundation for Open Government

PO Box 271

Jamesburg, NJ 08831

For immediate release

For more information:

Walter M. Luers, Esq., NJFOG President

908 894 5656 / 201 892 4316




New Jersey Foundation for Open Government Announces

2012 NJFOG LIFT Award Recipients


Branchburg, NJ - September 10th 2012 - The New Jersey Foundation for Open Government announced its 2012 NJFOG LIFT Award recipients today. Nominations were considered in three categories: Journalists, Political Leaders and Citizen Activists, all of whom contributed meaningful efforts to encourage a government entity to conduct its business in a more transparent way.

This year's recipients in the category of political leaders are: Kenilworth Mayor Kathi Fiamingo, South Orange Mayor Alex Torpey and New Jersey State Senator Loretta Weinberg.

This year's recipients in the category of citizen activists are: John Bury of Union County, Frances Day of Morris County, Veronica Silkes also of Morris County, Michael Pierone of Warren County and David Burnett of Glouster County.

This year's sole recipient in the category of journalists is Fred Snowflack, editorial writer of The Record, of Bergen County.

The award recipients will be recognized at an upcoming Open Government Workshop at Raritan Valley Community College on Saturday, September 22nd.
 
For more information about NJFOG or the workshop, please visit www.njfog.org or contact the organization's president, Walter M. Luers Esq. at 908 894 5656.



Thursday, September 6, 2012

Three Candidates Withdraw Their Names From Roxbury School Board Race To Start Roxbury and Mount Arlington Consolidation Commission


Roxbury, NJ – (September 7th, 2012) – Roxbury School Board candidates Ralph Nappi, Virginia Mushinski and Chris Rogers have each submitted a formal request to the Morris County Clerk’s office today, asking for their names to be withdrawn from the school board election ballot in November. 

“Of the nine candidates that have submitted ballot petitions, we believe there are three other very well qualified candidates on the ballot in November.  Fran Day, Garry DeFilippis and Michael Gariola share our goal to lower property taxes, improve educational quality in our school and demand that the Roxbury School Board is held to a higher standard.  In our opinion, there is no reason for us to run against them.”  said Ralph Nappi, Roxbury TEAM member.

Nappi, Mushinski and Rogers stated that they intend to work with the Roxbury Taxpayers’ Education Association www.roxburyteam.org , The New Jersey Taxpayers’ Association www.njtaxes.org and Courage to Connect New Jersey www.couragetoconnectnj.com, founded by former Long Hill Mayor Gina Genovese, to form a consolidation study commission for the purposes of exploring the feasibility of merging Mount Arlington and Roxbury Township schools.  The study commission will also gather information on the feasibility of merging the municipal governments.

“We believe a substantial amount of tax dollars can be saved by consolidating.  Simply eliminating duplicative administrative positions and streamlining support departments would save both Roxbury and Mount Arlington hundreds of thousands of dollars or more.” stated Virginia Mushinski, Roxbury Resident and TEAM Vice President.

Nappi, Mushinski and Rogers invite members of both the Roxbury and Mount Arlington public to join them at the Roxbury Public Library on Wednesday, October 10th at 6:30pm as they give a presentation on the creation of the proposed consolidation study.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Roxbury Must Pay Legal Fees of Board Member


Daily Record

ROXBURY — An appellate court ruled Thursday that the Roxbury Board of Education must pay the legal fees of a member censured by her colleagues after she spoke out about a student rally protesting Gov. Chris Christie’s school budget cuts.
Roxbury school board member Maureen Castriotta’s battle began on April 27, 2010, when she showed up on school grounds to monitor a student demonstration and later confronted the high school principal and district superintendent about how they should have handled the walkout. The board censured her, saying that her actions were inappropriate.
State Education Commissioner Christopher Cerf vacated her censure in May 2011, upholding a judge’s decision that said Castriotta’s colleagues exceeded their authority. But Cerf denied Castriotta’s application for indemnification and counsel fees.
Thursday’s decision makes the board responsible for the cost of her counsel. Erik Hassing, Castriotta’s attorney, said Friday he will be tallying the expenses to provide the board with a sum.
“The court’s decision accurately reflects the intentions of the Legislature in setting up the statute. It’s an important decision for elected official across the state,” Hassing said. “The decision says that you don’t have to be independently wealthy to fight for your rights and the board is required to indemnify you.”
The statute “must be construed liberally to promote a diversity of views on educational issues and policy and encourage members of local boards of education to express their views freely, without fear or intimidation,” the court decision said.
Without Thursday’s ruling, school boards could have continued to violate the rights of minority members by censuring them if they did not have the means to hire counsel, Hassing said.
“This sends a strong message to school boards across the state and has an application as well to local mayors and councils: Before you proceed with such censure actions, you should make sure that you follow proper procedures, due process rights to the accused and recognize that if you’re in the wrong, you will have to pay their legal fees,” he said.
Former board president Craig Heard said Thursday was a “good day for protecting free speech.” Heard championed Castriotta’s “cause to bring accountability to school districts,” and organized a fundraising committee.
“They can’t just muzzle board members anymore,” he said.
Castriotta said Friday it was “a long, hard, stressful fight, but the outcome was worth it.” She added it is gratifying that her case will be the basis for new law that will protect school board members.
“The minority won’t be victimized anymore,” she said. “They can speak freely without retaliation and feel they don’t have financial stress of legal counsel. It’s a great win for school board members.”
Castriotta has never received an apology from the school board or administration, she says. “What they did to me was wrong. They perpetuated lies about me,” she said. “And it disturbs me that New Jersey School Board Association wasn’t on board with this case.”
Roxbury Superintendent Patrick Tierney said Friday he had no official comment on the ruling. Tierney took the helm of the administration on July 1. He said he plans to “read through (the decision) and confer with the attorneys and the board.”
Tierney said the commissioner of education still has to rule on the decision.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

School board may charge non-profit day care center ‘rent’ in Roxbury Township - New Jersey Hills Newspaper: Roxbury Register News

School board may charge non-profit day care center ‘rent’ in Roxbury Township - New Jersey Hills Newspaper: Roxbury Register News: ROXBURY TWP. – The grades K-12 school district’s Board of Education is considering sending the non-profit Roxbury Day Care Center a bill for t…

9 candidates seek 3 school board seats in Roxbury Township - New Jersey Hills Newspaper: Roxbury Register News

9 candidates seek 3 school board seats in Roxbury Township - New Jersey Hills Newspaper: Roxbury Register News: ROXBURY TWP. -- There is no shortage of candidates in the K-12 school district for the Nov. 6 general election ballot.

Split school board hires Tierney as superintendent in Roxbury Township - New Jersey Hills Newspaper: Roxbury Register News

Split school board hires Tierney as superintendent in Roxbury Township - New Jersey Hills Newspaper: Roxbury Register News: ROXBURY TWP. -- A moment that could have been a celebration went in the opposite direction when the grades K-12 Board of Education voted 8-2 i…

Roxbury Board of Education narrowly approves moving school board vote to November - New Jersey Hills Newspaper: Roxbury Register News

Roxbury Board of Education narrowly approves moving school board vote to November - New Jersey Hills Newspaper: Roxbury Register News: ROXBURY TWP. – The K-12 school district elections
will be moved to November, but arriving at the decision was not an
easy one for the Board …

Roxbury school district in new administrative hands as school year begins - New Jersey Hills Newspaper: Roxbury Register News

Roxbury school district in new administrative hands as school year begins - New Jersey Hills Newspaper: Roxbury Register News: ROXBURY TWP. – The wide-eyed, nervous kindergarteners won’t be the only ones starting their first year in the K-12 school district when school…

Roxbury school board must pay Castriotta's legal fees - New Jersey Hills Newspaper: Roxbury Register News

Roxbury school board must pay Castriotta's legal fees - New Jersey Hills Newspaper: Roxbury Register News: ROXBURY TWP. -- The State Appelate Court has ruled in favor of Roxbury Board of Education member Maureen Castriotta, issuing a ruling Thursday…