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Re: Dr. Epps Contract Extended
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Below is an email message I received from Councilman Fulop on this issue:

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

I am disheartened to see, all too often, that the decisions being made in Jersey City are based purely off of politics, which clearly has an adverse affect on our schools and our taxes.

Please take a minute to sign the petition to have the Governor and Education Commissioner overturn the Board of Education's illegal vote to extend the superintendent's contract. We have a chance to be heard and I hope you take a second to read the below email since it has a significant impact on our city.

What happened?

On June 22, the Jersey City Board of Education voted to extend the current Jersey City Public School Superintendent?s contract to 2013. They held this vote at what was essentially a CLOSED DOOR MEETING with NO GENUINE ATTEMPT TO NOTIFY THE PUBLIC thereby making the opportunity for public participation impossible.

I am saddened by this blatant attempt to subvert the public process, and disappointed in the Board of Education for continuing to resort to status quo Jersey City politics, where big decisions that affect your schools and taxes are made to benefit the few at the expense of the many.

At the meeting it was pointed out their actions may have been illegal. New Jersey State Law 18A:11-11 mandates that:
?a board of education can not in any way take action on a superintendent?s contract unless notice is provided to the public at least 30 days prior.?

?the board [of education] must hold a public meeting and give 10 days notice of that meeting.?


Why did the Board of Education hold this meeting without proper public notification? What are they trying to hide from YOU ? the taxpayer?

Here are the facts:
Superintendent Epps? current contract is worth over $250,000 in salary and housing allowance. The current contract includes NO benchmarks, NO performance standards and NO specific reporting requirements. 35 out of 40 Jersey City schools are on the state's list of failing schools-- 14 of them for the third year or more.


What can you do?
Demand better results by signing this petition to Governor Chris Christie and Commissioner Brett Schundler asking them to overturn the vote to extend the Jersey City Public School Superintendent?s contract and to hold a national search for the best-qualified candidate.

Please take a minute to sign this petition located at http://www.rrupt.com/software2/customer/stevenfulop/survey/BOE.php and forward to all your friends in Jersey City. You should determine who will manage this $619 million budget and you should demand results.

Posted on: 2010/7/6 18:39
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Re: Dr. Epps Contract Extended
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Quote:

milkbone wrote:
Mr Waterman did not listen to his more experienced colleges on the boe , hence his unaccurate and wrong statements.


This must be Sean Connors. The moron can't spell unless his buddy McCann tells him the letters. "more experienced colleges on the boe" !? Yikes !!!

Posted on: 2010/7/4 2:18
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Re: Dr. Epps Contract Extended
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How convenient that he was unable to be reached

Heck, the schools have long been unable to reach passing status.

What I wonder about is, what do those who support the superintendent have to worry about, regarding a search, if this man is so great??

Allow a search and let the chips fall where they may.

Has the good Dr. spoken up yet?

Posted on: 2010/7/3 13:06
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Re: Dr. Epps Contract Extended
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Epps was "unable to be reached" because he was running from high school to high school -- five graduations. He got to follow Healy, who actually thanked those in the McNair audience who applauded.

Posted on: 2010/7/1 19:18
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Re: Dr. Epps Contract Extended
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Quote:

mrasg1 wrote:
Why did Carol Lester abstain in the vote?


Quote:
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Jersey City school board extends superintendent's contract


[...]Lester, who abstained, said she wanted to extend Epps one year while a search was conducted and was caught off guard when that wasn?t an option. She said she also thought the board had more time. A prior attorney, whose contract was not renewed, told the board it only had to give Epps 90 days notice, not one year.

?My intention was to hear public input for the 30 days and continue to gather information and make a decision based on the information and the public input as to whether to perform a search to extend the contract or renew it,? she said.[...]

Posted on: 2010/7/1 17:40
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Re: Dr. Epps Contract Extended
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Extension for Jersey City Superintendent Raises Flags at DOE

With the district slowly regaining some local control, school board's decision on Charles Epps could invite the state back in

By John Mooney, July 1 in Education

The grandfather of state school takeovers nationally, Jersey City began to see a move back to local control in 2007 when the state granted the district some select powers.

But three years later, the question is exactly how much local control that should entail.

In or Out? Newark Superintendent Waits to Get the Word

Jersey City's school board last week voted to extend the contract of superintendent Charles Epps, a critical decision that for the previous two decades had rested solely with the state.

But the board's split vote has also set off a small tempest in the city, and now the state appears to be taking a second look itself.

A spokesman for state Education Commissioner Bret Schundler said yesterday that the state Department of Education ?is reviewing the contract extension to see that proper procedures were followed.?

Spokesman Alan Guenther also said that the extension would go to the state?s Hudson County executive superintendent, Timothy Brennan, who is empowered to review and revise any and all school administrator contracts in the county.

?And when he finishes his work, the commissioner will look at it,? Guenther added.
Contested Extension

Guenther would not detail what, if any, concerns the state may have. But the commissioner?s office is already in the midst of deciding whether to renew the contract for Newark?s superintendent, Clifford Janey, and the Jersey City board?s controversial vote last week hits even closer to home for Schundler, the city?s former mayor.

The Jersey City board extended Epps?s four-year contract an additional two years by a vote of 6-2, with one abstention. Epps?s contract was not up for another year, but a provision allowed him a full year?s notice if he was not going to be renewed, and the board moved to give him a vote of confidence with the extension.

But one of the two dissenting members of the board, Sterling Waterman, has contested the vote with a state ethics complaint, saying the public was not given required notice. And some parent and community leaders have questioned whether such a big decision should have been made without at least considering other candidates.

?I?m not pro or con Charles Epps, but should we at least look to whether we bring others to the table?? said Felicia Palmer, the PTA president at School 3 and co-founder of a district coalition of parent groups.

She cited the fact that a vast majority of the district?s schools remain on the federal warning list under the No Child Left Behind Act.

?Something?s not working,? she said. "Whether it?s the contract ... I don?t know all the politics. But I know there is something burning in the house, and we need to put out the fire.?

Shelley Skinner, a charter school leader in Jersey City and member of Gov. Chris Christie's transition committee, was more adamant: ?They seriously disenfranchised the community. They really flouted the law.?

Efforts to contact Epps and the board?s president, William DeRosa, were unsuccessful late yesterday.
State Had Been Seeking an Exit

Where the state comes in is through its long history in Jersey City schools after taking control of the district in 1989, the nation?s first such state takeover. New Jersey went on to take over Newark and Paterson schools as well, both of which remain under full state control.

Starting in the late 1990s, state officials and legislators began looking for an exit strategy from these districts, maintaining that the state control may actually be impeding improvement as much as helping it.

Jersey City was the first test case under new statutes for evaluating all school districts, as it was the furthest along of the three takeover districts in making improvements.

So, after a long and complex evaluation process, the state Board of Education agreed to accede controls in the district?s governance by the local board and in its the overall financial management. But in the same September 2007 resolution, the board retained ?partial state intervention? over personnel, instruction and operations, keeping its powers to review and approve decisions in those areas.

Posted on: 2010/7/1 16:51
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Re: Dr. Epps Contract Extended
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Sterling Waterman, the BOE member leading the call for Epps' contract not to be renewed, is Black.

Robin.

Posted on: 2010/7/1 16:16
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Re: Dr. Epps Contract Extended
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Quote:

milkbone wrote:
Mr Waterman did not listen to his more experienced colleges on the boe , hence his unaccurate and wrong statements.


Just the sort of arrogant statement that I would expect from some of the current BOE members. By any reasonable standard Dr. Epps is under-performing. He's obviously an intelligent and capable person, but I'd grade him a "C+" at best. Conducting a nationwide search is the right thing to do.

And milkbone, don't be so sure about your assumption. An excerpt from Jersey City Independent today:

...A spokesman for state Education Commissioner Bret Schundler said yesterday that the state Department of Education ?is reviewing the contract extension to see that proper procedures were followed.?

Spokesman Alan Guenther also said that the extension would go to the state?s Hudson County executive superintendent, Timothy Brennan, who is empowered to review and revise any and all school administrator contracts in the county.

?And when he finishes his work, the commissioner will look at it,? Guenther added.

Guenther would not detail what, if any, concerns the state may have. But the commissioner?s office is already in the midst of deciding whether to renew the contract for Newark?s superintendent, Clifford Janey, and the Jersey City board?s controversial vote hits even closer to home for Schundler, the city?s former mayor.

The BOE extended Epps? four-year contract an additional two years by a vote of 6-2, with one abstention. Epps? contract was not up for another year, but a provision allowed him a full year?s notice if he was not going to be renewed, and the board moved to give him a vote of confidence with the extension.

But one of the two dissenting members of the board, Sterling Waterman, plans to contest the vote with a state ethics complaint, saying the public was not given required notice. And some parent and community leaders have questioned whether such a big decision should have been made without at least considering other candidates.

Posted on: 2010/7/1 14:38
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Re: Dr. Epps Contract Extended
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Quote:

Kindelan wrote:
How come there isn't a thread about this? I figured YOU PEOPLE would be all up in arms.

http://www.nj.com/hudson/index.ssf/20 ... y_school_board_exten.html

People, including our deputy mayor, claimed that the nationwide search for a superintendent was racially motivated.

http://www.jerseycityindependent.com/ ... t-and-more/#comment-57159


What do you mean by "YOU PEOPLE", Kindelan? You post here too so does that include yourself?

So "People, including our deputy mayor, claimed that the nationwide search for a superintendent was racially motivated." So their wrong as race has nothing to do with calling for a nationwide search for a new superintendent. Do you believe that statement made by other you cite?

I know for myself that there are many people of color, blacks, latins/hispanics, asians who are against giving Epps a new contract for the same reason that those who spoke at the BOE mtg. (including myself) spoke out: Epps has done nothing in his 8 years to set benchmarks or goals for the public schools and that has resulted in the failure of 35 out of 40 schools on every standards test given in NJ. All Epps does is the same as the Healy administration and most of the city council save for Fulop, and that is rubber stamp patronage hires and intimadate those in the school system who would speak out except they're afraid of losing their jobs.

So if by YOU PEOPLE you mean folks like myself who will speak out against Epps and others of criminal ineptitude and not just whine on a board as others do at other sites, but speak out in person, for the record, then you have your thread right here, bro.

Posted on: 2010/6/30 20:44
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Re: Dr. Epps Contract Extended
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Kids
Parents
Teachers
Taxes
Crime
Property values
Government
Governmental accountability

If you care about any of the above, it is crucial that you stay engaged in the issue of Dr. Epps' illegally procured contract extension.

This would subject our city to three more years of superintendent-failure from a man who refuses to even admit that there is a serious problem in the system. Across-the-board school failure has serious consequences for every single person in our city and while seeking a new superintendent is not a silver bullet, it is folly to stay the course when our current superintendent is failing so dramatically.

I support Sterling Waterman who currently stands alone on the Board of Education in publicly opposing the illegal contract extension granted by his colleagues. It is time for the fence-sitters to drop this nonsense and stand with him.

Posted on: 2010/6/30 16:05
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Re: Dr. Epps Contract Extended
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Why did Carol Lester abstain in the vote?

Posted on: 2010/6/30 3:49
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Re: Dr. Epps Contract Extended
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Quote:

alanwright wrote:
This guy is going to fail upwards.

Vote Epps for Mayor: Don't Change What Nobody Believes In!


You are without a doubt correct. He has the mediocrity and tone deafness that JC voters find irresistible.

Posted on: 2010/6/30 3:02
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Re: Dr. Epps Contract Extended
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This guy is going to fail upwards.

Vote Epps for Mayor: Don't Change What Nobody Believes In!

Posted on: 2010/6/30 1:14
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Re: Dr. Epps Contract Extended
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It is totally ridiculous that Dr Epps contract has been extended. The schools have not seen any improvement under him, in fact they seem to get worse. This vote didn't even happen in an a public meeting! Thanks to Sterling for voting "no" on this. This is a good reminder to make sure we get some good candidates elected in next year, and who knows, in a couple of years we may have a real Board of Education in Jersey City.

Posted on: 2010/6/30 1:09
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Re: Dr. Epps Contract Extended
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Thank you Sterling. You make me proud to have voted for you.

Posted on: 2010/6/29 23:53
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Re: Dr. Epps Contract Extended
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35 out of 40 Schools are failing.What more needs to be said?
This is the same guy who took an all expense paid vacation to england on our dime and thought there was nothing wrong with it.

Just think about if we had not all come together to elect the likes of Sterling and Carol this year,we may have never heard of this
back room deal.

Charlie Epps,you have been weighed,measured and found lacking,
BE Gone.

Posted on: 2010/6/29 23:45
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Re: Dr. Epps Contract Extended
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Did anyone else read the Times op-ed about how the Army has become so reluctant to relieve officers of command? It seems like failure has become not just stigmatized, but blotted out of official existence, unless your failure is just so damn spectacular like an oil spill or imploded hedge fund. When every child is always a winner, even those who drop out, I guess no one can fail, especially a well paid and connected bureaucrat/politician, even one who has shown no sign of winning the war.

Wasn't Epps a JC native who won the last "nationwide" search? Whether it's a police chief or School Chief, how is it that the best qualified person in the country is always already here?

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/24/opinion/24ricks.html

Quote:
The tradition of swift relief [of command] provided two benefits that we have lost in today?s Army: It punished failure and it gave an opportunity to younger, more energetic officers who were better equipped to adapt to the quickening pace of the war. When George Marshall heard of a major who really was doing a general?s work, he stepped in to make the man a brigadier general overnight. Under this audacious system, a generation of brilliant young commanders emerged, men like James Gavin, an innovator in airborne warfare who became the Army?s youngest three-star general.

But that tradition was somehow lost in the Korean War and buried conclusively in Vietnam. Nowadays, dynamic young leaders can?t emerge as quickly, because almost no one is fired. In a much-discussed 2007 article in Armed Forces Journal, Lt. Col. Paul Yingling wrote that ?a private who loses a rifle suffers far greater consequences than a general who loses a war.?

Posted on: 2010/6/29 21:54
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Re: Dr. Epps Contract Extended
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Sue Mack and Sterling Waterman have it right. 35 failing schools ?! Epps needs to go.

Posted on: 2010/6/29 20:53
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Re: Dr. Epps Contract Extended
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Quote:

SWBOEMember wrote:
Milkbone,
On the contraire, I did listen to my "more experienced" colleagues. What I heard was astonishing and inexcusable. Such as for the last two years of local control, no one, and I mean NO ONE, has given Dr. Epps any semblance of benchmarks. This man reigned freely with no checks and balances, or previously established goals for our children. This is beyond comprehension to me.

Furthermore, I listened to the facts. 35 out of 40 schools are now failing. A significantly enough increase from last year to warrant a change in direction.

You see, experience doesn't always equate to being right or accurate. In this case. it simply doesn't.

Sterling Waterman


Especially when "experience" is really just a misnomer for lapdog, right Sean -er, Milkbone?

Posted on: 2010/6/29 20:46
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Re: Dr. Epps Contract Extended
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Milkbone,
On the contraire, I did listen to my "more experienced" colleagues. What I heard was astonishing and inexcusable. Such as for the last two years of local control, no one, and I mean NO ONE, has given Dr. Epps any semblance of benchmarks. This man reigned freely with no checks and balances, or previously established goals for our children. This is beyond comprehension to me.

Furthermore, I listened to the facts. 35 out of 40 schools are now failing. A significantly enough increase from last year to warrant a change in direction.

You see, experience doesn't always equate to being right or accurate. In this case. it simply doesn't.

Sterling Waterman

Posted on: 2010/6/29 19:59
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Re: Dr. Epps Contract Extended
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Mr Waterman did not listen to his more experienced colleges on the boe , hence his unaccurate and wrong statements.

Posted on: 2010/6/29 17:33
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Dr. Epps Contract Extended
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How come there isn't a thread about this? I figured YOU PEOPLE would be all up in arms.

http://www.nj.com/hudson/index.ssf/20 ... y_school_board_exten.html

People, including our deputy mayor, claimed that the nationwide search for a superintendent was racially motivated.

http://www.jerseycityindependent.com/ ... t-and-more/#comment-57159

Posted on: 2010/6/29 13:15
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Re: Jersey City school board extends superintendent's contract
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Wow... what happened to the "national search"?

This guy gets paid way too much... and what do we have... one or two OK schools (McNair for example), but a lot of failing schools.

Test scores are bad and graduation rates are poor. Why would they extend the contract? Where are the performance measures?

Also, the JC public school system is bloated with administrators. Why?

I don't even have kids, but as a tax payer, I DON'T THINK OUR SCHOOLS ARE RUN WELL AT ALL!

FG

Posted on: 2010/6/24 1:43
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Jersey City school board extends superintendent's contract
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Posted on: 2010/6/24 0:43
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Re: Epps' pay would climb to $275G in 3 years
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Wow!
Dr Epps is a nice guy and great with the kids but not worth $260K, especially when programs are being cut for our kids (special thanks to Gov Christie as well) ... notice I didn't say anything relating to getting the job done, still waiting to see that one....

Newark School should be ashamed, the schools are a disgrace!!

I don't even know what to say, I'm still in shock!

Posted on: 2010/6/21 18:21
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Re: Epps' pay would climb to $275G in 3 years
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I can't see why someone making close to $300K shouldn't have to compete for his job every 10 years or so; much less how anyone would be "appalled" by JC getting the best possible person. The fact that this guy had the cheek to have a school named after him while being employed by the government schools should, alone, lead to skepticism. Also, that after a supposedly nationwide search 10 years ago they hired a lifelong JC guy strains credulity. Suuure the best possible person in a nation of 300 million just happened to live in JC.

I encourage everyone to watch the movie "The Cartel", which describes (among other things) how the non-teacher positions in the NJ schools have grown by about 40% while the student enrollment has been flat. The huge bloat of administrators hasn't produced any improvement in results.

Quote:

GrovePath wrote:
Community members turn out to support Jersey City superintendent
Published: Thursday, June 17, 2010, 10:30 PM Updated: Thursday, June 17, 2010, 10:38 PM
Melissa Hayes/The Jersey Journal

The Jersey City Board of Education may not have discussed the future of Superintendent Charles Epps' contract, but community members spoke on behalf of the district's long-time leader.

Resident Virginia Miller, who described herself as a community activist, told board member Angel Valentin she was appalled by his request for a nationwide search for a superintendent.

While a nationwide search would allow Epps to reapply for his job with the possibility of getting his contract extended, community members argued that Epps should be renewed without a search.

Epps was hired 10 years ago as the result of a nationwide search.

Miller described Epps as a lifelong Jersey City resident who is involved in the community and cares about the district.

Miller, a black woman, said she thought the effort to replace Epps was racially motivated.

She threatened to hold a march and circulate petitions if the board moves to not renew Epps.

The Rev. Rudolph Daniels also spoke of Epps' commitment to the community.

"Our superintendent is a life long resident of Jersey City. He came from a long line of educators, not only that, he lives in Jersey City," Daniels said. "Why do we have to search. The search should be over. Let's look at what we have."

Valentin released a statement last month calling for a nationwide search for superintendent. Epps contract expires next year, but the board must give him advance notice as to whether it plans to renew his contract.

Valentin started to respond to Miller during board member comment at the end of tonight's meeting and cited the district's high drop-out rate before Board President Bill DeRosa told Valentin the board's attorney warned they cannot discuss a personnel matter in public.

Posted on: 2010/6/19 2:18
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Re: Epps' pay would climb to $275G in 3 years
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Community members turn out to support Jersey City superintendent
Published: Thursday, June 17, 2010, 10:30 PM Updated: Thursday, June 17, 2010, 10:38 PM
Melissa Hayes/The Jersey Journal

The Jersey City Board of Education may not have discussed the future of Superintendent Charles Epps' contract, but community members spoke on behalf of the district's long-time leader.

Resident Virginia Miller, who described herself as a community activist, told board member Angel Valentin she was appalled by his request for a nationwide search for a superintendent.

While a nationwide search would allow Epps to reapply for his job with the possibility of getting his contract extended, community members argued that Epps should be renewed without a search.

Epps was hired 10 years ago as the result of a nationwide search.

Miller described Epps as a lifelong Jersey City resident who is involved in the community and cares about the district.

Miller, a black woman, said she thought the effort to replace Epps was racially motivated.

She threatened to hold a march and circulate petitions if the board moves to not renew Epps.

The Rev. Rudolph Daniels also spoke of Epps' commitment to the community.

"Our superintendent is a life long resident of Jersey City. He came from a long line of educators, not only that, he lives in Jersey City," Daniels said. "Why do we have to search. The search should be over. Let's look at what we have."

Valentin released a statement last month calling for a nationwide search for superintendent. Epps contract expires next year, but the board must give him advance notice as to whether it plans to renew his contract.

Valentin started to respond to Miller during board member comment at the end of tonight's meeting and cited the district's high drop-out rate before Board President Bill DeRosa told Valentin the board's attorney warned they cannot discuss a personnel matter in public.

Posted on: 2010/6/18 2:49
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Re: Epps' pay would climb to $275G in 3 years
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Jersey City school board member calls for nationwide superintendent search

By Melissa Hayes/The Jersey Journal
May 13, 2010, 3:26PM

Jersey City Board of Education member Angel Valentin wants the district to conduct a nationwide search for a superintendent.

Superintendent Charles Epps? contract expires June 30, 2011, but the school board must let him know at least a year in advance if it plans to rehire him, terminate him, or conduct a new search, which Epps can participate in.

?As members of the Jersey City Board of Education, it is our duty to ensure that our schools have the most capable leadership available,? Valentin, who is chairman of the Personnel Committee, said in a press release today.

Epps submitted a letter to the board in February saying he was interested in having his contract renewed. Epps was in a meeting this afternoon and could not immediately be reached for comment.

Valentin said he plans to introduce the resolution to notify Epps of his desire to conduct a nationwide search at the May 20 board meeting at School 11 at 6 p.m. Valentin said the issue would also be discussed Tuesday at the Personnel Committee meeting, which is open to the public, at 346 Claremont Ave. in room 810 at 6 p.m.

Board Vice President Sue Mack, who was on the board when Epps was first hired 10 years ago, said she isn?t opposed to conducting a search.

?Dr. Epps was picked as part of a national search,? she said. ?Ten years ago when he was appointed, it was the result of a national search.?

While searches were not conducted the last two times Epps? contract was renewed, Mack said she isn?t ?reading too much into? Valentin?s request.

?I don?t think it?s that unusual,? she said of conducting the search. ?Afterall, Dr. Epps was picked that way.?

Valentin, who has served eight years on the board and was recently re-elected, said at several school candidate events that members of the public had approached him about the superintendent position.

?It is my determination that it is in the best interests of the children of Jersey City that we immediately commence a national search for the position of superintendent for the Jersey City Public School System,? Valentin said

Posted on: 2010/5/14 6:19
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Re: Epps' pay would climb to $275G in 3 years
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Hopefully these politicians and local government employees don't run the city into bankruptcy.

Related article:

Fat pensions spell doom for many cities
http://money.cnn.com/2008/06/02/pf/re ... tm?postversion=2008060305


NEW YORK (Money Magazine) -- The jig is up. For years, politicians have been playing what amounts to a multi-trillion-dollar shell game with state and local pensions. They've doled out lush retiree benefits to their heavily unionized workforces, knowing that they could shove the cost for those benefits onto future generations of taxpayers

Posted on: 2008/6/3 13:00
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Re: Epps' pay would climb to $275G in 3 years
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Analysis shows big perks in some Abbott districts
by John Mooney/The Star-Ledger
Sunday June 01, 2008, 10:19 AM

Several top administrators in the state's poorest school districts are earning big salaries and lucrative sick-time buyouts, an analysis of payroll records shows.

In Garfield, the two top administrators are in line for $150,000 in unused sick time upon retirement, an amount that would far exceed caps being discussed.

In West New York, the superintendent earns $231,000, and lower administrators could retire with buybacks exceeding $50,000.

And in the state-operated districts of Newark and Jersey City, one retiring superintendent is due a $135,000 buyout and the other just signed a contract that will allow him to keep $100,000 in unused sick time.

Still, the review of administrative salaries and benefits in more than 20 of the 31 poorest districts shows none approach the excesses in the contract of the retiring Keansburg superintendent, whose $700,000 in severance pay touched off the controversy last month. The contract of outgoing Superintendent Barbara Trzeszkowski is being challenged in court by the Corzine administration.

The Star-Ledger review also found:

* Salaries range from $135,000 for interim superintendents in Plainfield and Pleasantville to more than $250,000 in the two largest districts of Newark and Jersey City. The average was nearly $190,000.

* Contracts also include a wide range of benefits, from thousands of dollars in annual travel expenses to tax-deferred annuities, which the state already has moved to bar on future contracts. Even the number of workdays varies -- from a low of 210 in Passaic to 260 in Newark and Phillipsburg.

* One-third of the districts have failed to post salary and other perks on district websites, a requirement of a law passed last year that attempts to make compensation more transparent. The state also has yet to post the information, as required.

Interestingly, some instances of heavy spending are in contracts negotiated by the state in districts it has taken over. The Star-Ledger's review of the 31 poorest districts, known as the Abbotts, comes as the Corzine administration steps up pressure on spending in these districts. Gov. Jon Corzine said he was livid about the Keansburg deal, ordering the Department of Education last week to review the contracts of all superintendents, starting in the Abbott districts.

While perks for superintendents have been an issue for years, extra pay in the Abbotts is a political hot potato because those districts are so heavily subsidized by taxpayers. Corzine at the same time is before the state Supreme Court seeking to roll back many of the mandates under the court's epic Abbott vs. Burke decisions.

"There are things that were acceptable 10 years ago that aren't anymore," said Education Commissioner Lucille Davy. "It's ridiculous to pay someone for not being sick."

But she stressed the state is intent on hunting for excesses in all school districts.

"I'm sure what we saw in Keansburg is not in every other contract; I expect a mix," she said. "But it is unlikely it will be confined to the Abbotts. I imagine there will be provisions elsewhere that are excessive, too."

A few provisions in the Abbotts stand out. In Garfield, Superintendent Nicholas Perrapato and Assistant Superintendent Raymond Hryczyk carry lower-than-average salaries for poor districts, but both will receive retirement packages that allow them to buy back hundreds of unused sick and vacation days, each topping $150,000.

And with both expecting to step down in the next year, the combined amount is so high the board plans to string the payments out over three years. "Otherwise, it would leave the district broke," said business administrator Dennis R. Frohnapfel.

Others have a series of limits on their buybacks, something the state hopes to impose on all districts in the future.

Passaic Superintendent Robert Holster, for instance, has a $15,000 cap on cashing in unused vacation days and $30,000 on sick days. Others have much lower sick-time buybacks, with Orange Superintendent Nathan Parker owed the least at $2,500.

One of the most extensive packages is for Jersey City Superintendent Charles Epps, who in April signed a new three-year deal that will put his salary over $250,000 next year. Included is a complex system for paying Epps for nearly 500 unused sick days from his four decades in the district, totaling more than $85,000.

Epps concurred with the governor that the Keansburg contract "maybe went overboard."

"But I do think we deserve something, absolutely," he said. "To find a good superintendent, you need to pay for a good superintendent."

And, apparently agreeing, the state is the one that hammered out the Epps contract in what may be its last year of a district takeover that has lasted two decades.

Davy denied the contract was overly generous, saying Epps was legally entitled to those sick days and that other compromises were made to help hold down the costs.


The commissioner also signed off on the final contract for Marion Bolden, the Newark superintendent for the last nine years. She is expected to leave July 1 with more than $40,000 in buybacks, as well as a severance amount equal to six months' pay, or about $135,000.

"I just said be reasonable and fair," Bolden said. "It never dawned on me to ask for what (Trzeszkowski) got."

Still, Bolden said one Keansburg contract has painted all the Abbott superintendents in a negative light.

"And if the state comes down too hard, it won't be able to attract the kinds of candidates you want," she said. "I'm glad I'm leaving when I am."

Read more in the Sunday Star-Ledger.

Posted on: 2008/6/2 11:24
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