CRANFORD — The Cranford Board of Education convened for its annual reorganization meeting on Monday. Kurt Petschow was nominated by board member Terry Darling for reelection as this year’s president and was sworn into office after a roll-call vote. William Hulse was chosen as this year’s vice-president.
Board members Christopher Kolibas and Kristen Cohen were officially sworn into office by Board Attorney Jennifer Osborne, Esq.
“Thank you,” Mr. Petschow said. “It’s a true honor to serve this board and congratulations to our newlyelected vice-president.”
The board reminded residents of the upcoming $75-million bond-referendum vote, scheduled to take place between 2 and 8 p.m. on Tuesday, January 23.
“This plan has been in the works for many years,” said Superintendent of Schools Scott Rubin, Ed.D. “The board began considering the bond referendum years ago to consider making improvements to our district. It started with listening sessions throughout our entire community, then ultimately led to a survey and a steering committee that helped form the referendum. The steering committee indicated that the majority of the respondents are in favor of the proposals that are in this referendum.”
According to information provided by district officials, schools typically use funds acquired through referendums to pay for more expensive projects that the operating budget does not cover. If approved by the voters, the referendum also would give the district access to additional funding and state aid.
“This bond referendum will make substantial updates to all eight of our schools,” Dr. Rubin said, noting that the district plans to allocate approximately 75 percent of its anticipated funding to capital projects, including updates to science and culinary labs, multi-media centers and performance spaces, air-conditioning units and upgrades to the district’s aging HVAC system.
The remaining funds will be used to implement a new full-day kindergarten program. “We would be able to build 16 new Kindergarten classrooms with restrooms at the schools that currently have those programs, Brookside Place, Bloomingdale Avenue School, Hillside, and Walnut,” the superintendent said. “It’s very important for the community that we do this in the currently zoned areas. We can currently accommodate three full-day classes awarded through a lottery system and tuition-based.”
Dr. Rubin continued by stating the bond referendum was strategically planned, and that the tax impact would be minimized by state aid, which will cover approximately 26 percent of the total project cost.
Cranford homeowners whose properties are assessed at an average of $184,824 should expect to pay an additional $34 per month in school taxes if the referendum passes.
Township Attorney Jennifer Osborne, Esq. helped fulfill a statutory requirement that the board be familiar with the Code of Ethics by presenting information to the board. She provided members with packets that included a copy of the Code of Ethics and discussed them with the board as per the requirement.
“The School EthicsAct is a body of law that requires all school officials and board members and administrators abide by certain guidelines and there is also the Board Member Code of Ethics that is specific to board members,” she said. “An easy way to remember is the five C’s: commitment, confidentiality, conflicts, claims, and to follow the chain of command.”
First, she discussed the commitment board members make to the community and school district. During executive sessions, Ms. Osborne noted that board members are often exposed to confidential information. They also could come across it in other settings, such as committee meetings, but this information is confidential, meaning it should not be discussed with anyone else, including family members and friends.
“It’s important you know it and follow it (the School Ethics Act),” Ms. Osborne said. “Every decision you make here should benefit the district and there is a commitment to follow the chain of command. In New Jersey, there is something called the chain of command, a literal ladder, where everyone in the district sits on a rung and we make a commitment as board members that we follow that chain of command with the respect of moving things through the process.”
For more information about the upcoming referendum vote, visit https:// sites. google. com/ laurabishop. com/cranford-vote/home.