MY TURN By Jennifer Dericks

| 30 Sep 2011 | 09:43

    I have never met Ms. Bolzan and clearly she does not know me personally. Who is she to vilify me so terribly? I am saddened to live in a community where it is acceptable to be nasty to others and to tell lies without a moment’s pause. I have four children that hear and read vicious lies from awful people like Ms. Bolzan. At least she put her name to her attack. I have received gloating hate email and letters from the supporters of the three victorious board members, who themselves have proven to be less than upstanding in a very short time. I have been the target of slander by cockroaches who hide in the darkness of anonymity. Why are we so surprised when children behave poorly? They are only modeling the behavior that we in Sparta accept from the adults. Nearly since the day I moved to Sparta I began volunteering to better the lives of the children in my community. I have volunteered hundreds of hours; created a parent volunteer program, served as committee chairman and den leader for cub scouts, and held leadership positions in the PTOs and on and on. It is a shame that some persist in remaining uninformed or sadly misinformed. I have never had a conversation with Ms Bolzan about her concerns, yet she, like others, is willing to be convinced by people who for some reason want to tear down, rather than build up. So I will say it one more time for Ms Bolzan and anyone else interested in facts. First: Sparta has some of the lowest administrative costs per pupil. Only 16 districts spend less on administration than Sparta Second: The superintendent’s contract was already statutorily approved a year earlier, on June 30, 2009 at a minimum of $235,000; the salary that had been established by a previous board of education, that included Paul Johnson. It went into effect as of July 1, 2010. We froze the salary for five years. There was no legislation to cap superintendent’s salaries in effect at that time. The finalized contract went to the Executive County Superintendent Dr Rosalie Lamonte for approval (who, by the way, just last week had a summary judgment against her, the courts having found her to have violated contract law). After discussion, she sent back a contract with language that, at the time, it was a violation of the law. There were several telephone conversations between Dr Lamonte and me, with updates to the full board, not just the selected cut and paste emails distributed by Paul Johnson. Dr. Lamonte, after checking with Trenton, found my objections to be valid and proposed the language finally agreed to by the superintendent. Dr. Morton’s contract reflects a wage freeze for the entire five years, making us the worst board he has ever had to negotiate with. His contract has been posted on line since it was signed. It should be noted that Mr. Johnson was on the board that hired Dr. Morton and on the board that gave him every raise during his time in Sparta. I was the one that negotiated a five year freeze. During their campaign, Bladek, Turner and Favichia sent out a mailing with the last page devoted to this topic. They knowingly distributed this letter filled with lies. Third: The budget that went to the voters last year had courtesy busing. The voters defeated the budget. The town council cut an additional $600,000 including money for courtesy busing. With the additional unemployment obligation, Mohawk Ave School had to be closed and courtesy busing eliminated. No one on the board wanted that to happen. Town council has been denying any culpability in this issue, but the fact remains, they eliminated $600,000 from a budget already reduced by millions — they wanted courtesy busing cut and they got it. They will also try to deny any impact to the students resulting from the $600,000 they cut again this year. The fact remains, they cut substitutes, and summer maintenance work. That was all money justified against actual work. Just because town council felt there was too much being spent there will not stop the bills from having to be paid. The work has to be done and paid for, again this year. The money to pay for that work will have to come from students. You watch, when the start time of the middle school cannot be changed or activity fees cannot be reduced because town council took $600,000, they will deny their responsibility. The fact is they did it — they took $600,000 from a 2 percent budget, making it 1 percent when theirs is nearly 8 percent. The students WILL be affected. It was only three short years ago that Phil, Adam and I ran a positive campaign and were overwhelmingly elected to restore civility and respect to the board of education. We certainly did that. The embarrassing headlines disappeared and the good work was getting done as a cooperative atmosphere replaced the previous 'gotcha’ way of operating. Well, within a few short days of this election the ugly headlines are back, along with divisive behavior. I have gotten notes from people all around the state, involved with education, wanting to know what is going on in Sparta. They cannot imagine that a supposed affluent school district would reject a 2 percent budget — the only “I” district in the state to do so. They are even further appalled when they hear of the involvement of the mayor and his wife in the election and budget defeat. “Unbelievable” is the most common response. I shake my head and wonder myself, what is going on in Sparta? I served my community with dignity and respect, working hard to always keep students’ needs as the first priority. I am asking my fellow Spartan to reevaluate their priorities. Personal political agenda cannot usurp your social and moral responsibility to provide a quality education for our children.