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Board of Education again debates last-minute resolutions

The Board Secretary continued efforts to prevent agenda additions

From left to right: Board Secretary Dr. Gary Maita, Trustee Pam Sclafene, and President Maria Valado.

In the Open Public Workshop before the Bayonne Board of Education meeting on Jan. 5, the ongoing discussion regarding resolution timing was reignited.

Prior to winter break, Board Secretary Dr. Gary Maita and Superintendent of Schools John Niesz held a Zoom meeting with administrators in the central office.

There, Maita raised his concerns over the timing of board resolutions. Maita cited Trustee Ava Finnerty’s failed resolution to establish an earlier deadline to submit new resolutions.

Too early or too late?

Finnerty wants a rule that resolutions or other items must be added to an agenda ten days before a board meeting.

Currently, resolutions and other items must be added to an agenda around four days before a board meeting, the day of a committee meeting. During committee meetings, the board reviews the resolutions.

Finnerty argues that sometimes resolutions are added to an agenda after a committee meeting. She acknowledged that usually the resolutions or items added to an agenda last-minute are minor and informational. But Finnerty said sometimes the resolutions added to an agenda the day of a meeting have a lasting impact.

Finnerty said she often doesn’t have time to look at those last-minute resolutions before the meeting. Sometimes, she said she doesn’t find out about some resolutions until the meeting itself.

At the Dec. 10 meeting, she proposed a deadline for resolutions of ten days prior to a board meeting. Finnerty said that five days prior would also be acceptable. She said that Superintendent of Schools John Niesz could override the resolution to add new items.

The rest of the board disagreed, and the resolution was voted down. At the time, Board President Maria Valado explained that prohibiting the board from adding resolutions less than 10 days before a meeting was not appropriate for a district of Bayonne’s size.

According to Valado, the current deadline for new items and resolutions is four days before a board meeting. She asserted Finnerty’s compromise deadline of five days before a meeting would be nonsensical because it would be only one day earlier than the current deadline.

Moving forward?

Although it did not pass, Maita said at the Jan. 5 meeting that “in actuality some of the thought process behind it was correct.” He explained to administrators that he would like all resolutions due by the committee meeting date.

“So that when the board has a committee meeting, trustees will have all the business in front of them that will occur at the board meeting,” Maita said.

The only exception to that would be if a member of the Central Office Administration needed to add something at the last minute.

According to Maita, resolutions regarding state funding, new hires, or curriculum items would be among the few exceptions allowed beyond the committee meeting date. Maita will accept late resolutions that fit these circumstances, but the items have to be added by a member of the Central Office Administration.

“Hopefully that will help in getting us from a committee meeting to a board meeting, and there will be no surprise resolutions,” Maita said. He said that he shared the information with the administration and hopes that within a month or two they will comply.

Valado thanked Maita for his work, calling it a “great idea” but noted that it may be unnecessary due to changes implemented in the past year. Committee meetings were moved from seven days prior to a board meeting to four days, according to Valado.

Valado added that she thought that’s how the board was operating anyway, with last-minute resolutions being vital additions from administrators, such as field trips.

Maita said she was correct but said that administrators need to be more aware of the timeline for him to get resolutions to board members.

Further discussion of the topic died as Finnerty was not present at the meeting on Jan. 5. for medical reasons.

The board will meet again later in January. Meetings are live streamed on the board’s YouTube channel. For more information, go to bboed.org.

For updates on this and other stories, check www.hudsonreporter.com and follow us on Twitter @hudson_reporter. Daniel Israel can be reached at disrael@hudsonreporter.com.

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