To the Editor:
On January 18, 2022, as a member of the Board of Education, I made three motions to enhance the Board of Education budget.
Mr. Rooney may try to pin these votes on Jerry Stevens as “raising taxes,” as he claimed at the debate, but Mr. Rooney couldn’t be more misinformed.
The first motion was to fund a space needs assessment study for the Board of Education. COVID increased the student population in Monroe in ways we couldn’t have expected just a year or two before. Classroom space and other physical spaces for our students are tight. An official study on space optimization isn’t just beneficial — it’s vital to future-proof our school system as we navigate this unforeseen influx.
The second motion was to add an employee to the finance staff. I opposed the merger of the finance and accounting functions of town hall and the Board of Education. There is too much work for such a small staff. As state and federal laws and regulations increase, the workload only increases.
Adequately funding our finance departments for the town and Board of Education is paramount. More staff could also potentially help the town gain more revenue by obtaining grants and other sources of income not traditionally received.
The third motion was to add an assistant principal to Fawn Hollow Elementary School. Fawn Hollow is our largest elementary school, welcoming over 700 students this year. Jockey Hollow Middle School has a smaller student population than Fawn Hollow, yet Jockey Hollow houses a principal and an assistant principal.
During the budget season in question, I asked our Fawn Hollow principal, who does teacher evaluations and handles so many of the administrative functions needed with hundreds of students and dozens of teachers.
Our superintendent, assistant superintendent, and director of special education all indicated they pinch-hit at Fawn Hollow when needed. An additional administrator dedicated to our largest elementary school was (and still is) needed for the benefit of our teachers and students.
The Board of Education handed back close to a $1,000,000 surplus to the town from the 2022-2023 budget. My proposed additions would have brought the surplus down to around $725,000 – plenty of breathing room for the Board of Education.
Moreover, Jerry Stevens shows up. He is the right person for the job because he does his homework and makes the best decisions for our kids, our parents, and all the residents of our town.
Mr. Rooney, on the other hand, who chairs a committee of the Town Council on Planning & Zoning, Public Works, and Parks and Recreation Matters, hasn’t called a meeting of his committee since April 5, 2022. At that April meeting, the singular agenda item was making him the Chair.
Other than this meeting, the committee hasn’t met since the current Town Council was sworn in in November 2021. What a great committee to discuss the Pepper Street project, sewers, and other items under Land Use’s purview to keep the town and its residents informed, but no meetings have been held.
Mr. Rooney claims to have a handle on the town’s budget and what his priorities would be, yet Councilman Rooney did not attend either of the Town Council Budget Workshops in February and March of this year. Councilman Rooney did not attend the Budget Workshops in 2022 either. One cannot have priorities if they don’t attend the meetings. Two years running, and Councilman Rooney hasn’t cared enough about the taxpayers he claims to represent to show up and have his voice heard. If Mr. Rooney is elected, would he show up to his own budget workshops? History says no.
Editor’s Note: Nick Kapoor is a Democrat running for town treasurer and a former member of the Board of Education.
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