What is going on with the new school board?
For most of July, anyone checking the Board of Education meeting schedule on line would see only a list ending with the June 30 meeting. I checked again today and finally there is a meeting for this month - a business meeting, 8 p.m. on July 26, no location listed.
I must admit, the 90-degree days this month have seriously affected me, so figuring this out is difficult. Excuse me if I am not only nit-picky but maybe even missing something.
The board held its organizational meeting on May 3, with new members elected on April 19. One of the many organizational tasks was to pass a resolution on the Open Public Meetings Act, in which one item was designation of the third Tuesday of the month for the business meeting. The location was to be the Plainfield High School Auditorium, unless otherwise noted, and meeting notices were to be published in the official newspapers. I check the legal notices every day and have been looking for word of July meetings without success. My email to the district's Community Relations Liaison didn't work
On the NJPA public notices site, the only July legal notice I saw for the Board of Education was one dated July 9 seeking proposals for legal services.
Normally a work-and-study meeting precedes the business meeting, although the Open Public Meetings Act resolution does not specify it. Was there a July work-and-study meeting?
The reason this schedule is important is to give the public the opportunity to attend. After the board voted on November 10 to change back to April elections, there was a flurry of interest in the Board of Education. New members from the Nov. 3 general election and then from the April 19 election gave the impression that one of their goals would be greater transparency, especially because the election change was done by way of a walk-on item with no advance public notice.
Let us hope the board will soon reach its stride, because both the board and the community at large may be facing a major challenge from Gov. Chris Christie's "Fairmess Formula" initiative. As previously noted, Christie's proposal to have a flat school aid figure per regular pupil will benefit districts that currently pay most school costs out of property taxes. It could be a disaster for districts like Plainfield that receive 80 percent of school funding from the state. Even without the threat from Christie's plan, the Plainfield district has many needs that require full attention from the board and community.