Facility Monitors Reinstated at High Schools
District spent first four school days with assistant principals overseeing traffic duties.
The administration at West Morris Central High School won’t have to use assistant principals or faculty members to monitor morning and afternoon traffic or keep an eye on students attempting to leave the campus anymore, now that board of education approved a contract for a facility monitor at the school.
The monitor, John Notte, has been working three hours a day, five days a week in this capacity at that school for the past two years. But when a renewal of his contract was up for vote by the board in August, it received a 4-2 plurality and did not pass. A full majority of the board–five ayes–were needed for approval.
Notte’s pay became a bone of contention for board member and Chester representative Marcia Asdal, who felt the $35 per hour wage was too high.
“The rate was set for services based on flexibility of the hours,” board secretary Doug Pechanec said. Notte monitors the school in the morning, during lunch, and at the end of the school day. “It’s important having someone there during those times.”
Along with Mendham Township representative James Button, Asdal again voted against the contract Monday night, but the other six sitting members were in favor.
“This just seemed so egregious to me,” Asdal said. “Is this the best we can do with our money?” Asdal cited statistics from the department of labor showing the median wage for a security guard is $13 per hour.
Button felt the pay was also too high, likening Notte’s role to that of a crossing guard.
In the same vote, the board approved the contract of Joseph Szoke to fill the facility monitor position at Mendham High School. Szoke’s contract is for $25 per hour and four hours per school day.
Board Vice President Jacke Schram supported Szoke, explaining that his role was more than traffic monitoring.
“I can remember specific times when my daughter was on crutches, and Mr. Szoke helped her get from the bottom of campus to the top.” Schram said. “She would have never made it to class on time if that didn’t happen.”
All eight sitting board members approved the same contracts for the 2011-12 school year.
After the August vote did not pass, the positions at each school were opened to public application.
Several community members applied, Pechanec said, and it was the principals who recommended Notte and Szoke.
“In order to fill that void, assistant principals were moved outside,” Superintendent Mackey Pendergrast said. “You really want to have your assistant principals working a different capacity. It doesn’t mean we shouldn’t look at other ways of doing this, but we need to keep student safety in mind always.”
Washington Township representative and former West Morris Central administrator David Lobron compared today’s structure to when he was in the school.
“($35 per hour) is a far cry from what we were paying two full timers years ago,” Lobron said.
Notte and Szoke returned to their positions Tuesday morning.