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BOE Details Shared Services


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Talk about shares services has been all the rage in New Jersey for the last two years, and at a joint meeting with the Town Council last night, the Verona Board of Education detailed work done by the township at and for Verona’s six schools. It has ranged from small things, like fence repairs and paint, to larger tasks like snow removal, parking lot paving and school bathrooms.

The  shared work is in many ways an acknowledgement of the fact that Verona’s schools share their spaces–indoors and out–for a wide range of community purposes. State laws preclude a sharing of funds for the work (the town and school district budgets are separate) but the New Jersey School Boards Association and the League of Municipalities have been encouraging town-school collaboration since the early 1980s. (The BOE sent out two employees this morning to help the town with a water main break that is complicating traffic near F.N. Brown and VHS.)

At the meeting, BOE President John Quattrocchi and Town Manager Joe Martin expressed satisfaction with the arrangement, which seems to have some benefits: Joint work cut the cost of the bathroom repairs at Laning Avenue School last summer from a projected $100,000 to $30,000.

But there were no costs or cost savings attached to most of the projects on the BOE list, making it was hard to ascertain exactly what impact the sharing of services is on either the town or the school budgets. That’s important because both have been under strain. BOE member Glenn Elliott noted that the board has identified about $1 million in repairs and maintenance that needs to happen at the schools each year for the next five years, but said that, on average, there is only about $250,000 in the school budget annually for such work.

Quattrocchi and Martin said the joint work has been product of a good relationship between the town and the schools, but Kevin Ryan, who was elected to the Council last year, wondered whether there needed to be a specific memorandum of understanding between the two.

Ryan also called for “closer scrutiny” by the town and the BOE of field maintenance. The  shared works  list from the BOE  noted that  the town’s Public Works Department has assumed the majority of the athletic field maintenance for Verona schools, which must, by law, avoid pesticide use except when there is a clear threat to human health. It was recently discovered that TruGreen applied pesticides that can aggravate asthma on the Linn Drive field on the same day as an elementary school soccer program. The BOE’s list noted that, in the past 20 months, the town has assumed TruGreen application costs for the VHS baseball field and H.B. Whitehorne Field.

Martin said there would be a presentation on turf management at the July 16 Council meeting. “The mayor and Council are committed to running a safe and effective program,” Martin said.

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Virginia Citrano
Virginia Citranohttps://myveronanj.com
Virginia Citrano grew up in Verona. She moved away to write and edit for The Wall Street Journal’s European edition, Institutional Investor, Crain’s New York Business and Forbes.com. Since returning to Verona, she has volunteered for school, civic and religious groups, served nine years on the Verona Environmental Commission and is now part of Sustainable Verona. She co-founded MyVeronaNJ in 2009. You can reach Virginia at [email protected]


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