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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. .

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.

Experience Matters

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.

Harvey September 12, 2012 at 12:09 PM
Funny that Ms. Asdal complained about the rate this year; she voted for the same thing last year without a peep..
Barbara September 12, 2012 at 12:20 PM
Harvey- how funny do you think it is that kids are sitting in classes with over 30 students and not enough desks? Get the point?
Claire September 12, 2012 at 01:23 PM
Well, if Mendham HS is overcrowded, maybe there should be some redistricting within the Regional HS.
Barbara September 12, 2012 at 03:59 PM
Claire- how about starting with responsible spending!
McDuff September 12, 2012 at 08:36 PM
Claire, the WMM building is not overcrowded. Some of the classes are overcrowded due to poor planning and scheduling by the administration and due to the administration's allocation of teacher resources. Translation: not enough sections offered in many subject areas. Also, there are not enough teachers on staff and no indication that the BOE plans on hiring more (they are crying 2% budget cap). According to the Superintendent and the BOE, however, there is enough money to pay an outside consultant $25,000 to perform some of the Superintendent's job responsibilities AND additional funds are available pay the outrageous fees for facility monitors-approximately $29,000.
wt-taxpayer September 17, 2012 at 03:23 PM
has anyone made the connection to this board's inability to keep costs down for our taxpayers and the fact that modest homes are not selling in the area? only those with very high incomes can afford to buy homes in the area, leaving the rest to worry. i really wish there was some sense of responsibility to those footing the bills!

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