Another school year, another fight over facility monitors.
The West Morris Regional Board of Education, for the second consecutive year, is at odds over giving contracts to facility monitors – one for West Morris Central and one for Mendham High School – for the 2013-14 school year, because some members contest the pay is too high.
At its most recent meeting on Aug. 19, the board did not draw a full majority vote to approve contracts for John Notte (Central) and Joseph Szoke (Mendham) at the amount of $25 per hour for up to four hours per school day, according to Superintendent Mackey Pendergrast.
The facility monitor role at each school is “critical to student safety and wellness,” Pendergrast said. “[The facility monitor] presence impacts everything from HIB to drugs and alcohol. They’re front and center on all issues.”
Because personnel matters require a full majority of the board to approve, last week’s decision went down 4-3, as only seven members of the nine-member body were present.
Because of that, the board will take part in a special meeting Wednesday, August 28 at 7 p.m. at Mendham High School to vote on the issue again.
In August 2012, the board did not have a full majority to approve the facility monitors as well. At the time, board members Marcia Asdal (Chester Township) and Jamie Button (Mendham Township) voted no and expressed their concern over the pay rate, which at the time was proposed at $35 per hour per monitor.
Because of the vote last year, the first week of school saw administrators at both buildings undertaking the facility monitor duties until a 7-2 vote in favor of $25 per hour contracts was approved in September.
But if this school year goes the same way the last one began, Asdal won’t be worried.
“I think it’s actually a good thing to have administrators in these roles,” Asdal said this week. “It’s great to see them interacting with the students and getting out of the office.”
Asdal, along with Button and Chester Borough representative Don Storms, voted no last week, which gave the vote a 4-3 total.
But it’s not so much who’s running the position as it how much it costs.
“What are we paying for?” Asdal said to Patch. “I’m all for beefing up security, but what is the value for these two positions?”
Asdal said her research through the Bureau of Labor Statistics showed someone conducting the same work as the current facility monitors could earn between $11 and $14 per hour.
“Are they trained to do these jobs? Are we paying for a particular skill set?” Asdal asked. “It’s not proven to me why we need this much money for this position. I think it’s an overpayment for duties.”
If each monitor worked a full four hours per school day, all 180 days of the calendar year, the total expenditure for the contracts would be $36,000.
Pendergrast said the position is vital to the district's increasing safety and security measures, as the monitors keep an eye on visitors coming to the schools and help direct traffic at the end of the day.
The board would need five of its members to approve the motion prior to the Monday, Sept. 9 opening day, or faculty members will again be used to monitor the facilities.