Two Jefferson Township Board of Education members have resigned in the past six months, Judy Castiglione on Tuesday night and approximately the same amount of time that Joseph Kraemer has been superintendent of schools.
Nick Anzano also resigned last August while Kathaleen Fuchs was still superintendent, citing "overwhelming work commitments."
“The board members all left for entirely different reasons,” Kraemer said. “Mr. Feldmann felt frustrated because he was unable to participate in some decisions.”
Those decisions involved anything related to personnel, as Feldmann’s daughter is a teacher in the district.
“What I said at my resignation in March still stands,” Feldmann said. “At the time I thought that anything I said would sound like sour grapes, and I still think that.”
At the time of his resignation, Feldmann said he “could not in good conscience support the new superintendent and his administration.” He wrote an email to Patch discussing his frustrations with Kraemer’s promotion, and what he called the “personal agenda” of some board members. The full text of that email can be seen here.
Conversely, Castiglione’s frustrations, she said, stemmed from the fact that she did not feel supported by the administration. Even with only three months left in her term, Castiglione didn’t feel she could effectively participate in board business.
“I felt there was no reason for me to stay,” she said. “There was no productive dialogue or support, and another few months wasn’t going to change that.”
She said she felt that lack of support particularly in her efforts on the ad hoc committee on substance abuse awareness, which she was appointed to chairwoman.
“For eight months, I worked on that committee, and to have none of my suggestions implemented was extremely frustrating,” she said.
“The ad hoc committee wasn’t meant to be an ongoing committee,” Kraemer said. “It was supposed to come to a conclusion. Mrs. Castiglione had some good suggestions, and now it’s up to my staff to implement them.”
It was that lack of implementation that Castiglione said she found particularly frustrating.
“Some of the suggestions, like providing parents a list of resources on the school web site, and asking the video production classes to produce a public service announcement for use at back-to-school night, wouldn’t have been costly, but are so important,” she said.
Kraemer responded that lack of time and staff was an issue for those suggestions.
“Mrs. Castiglione needs to realize that we eliminated an administrative position in April, and Dr. Thornton and I were very busy preparing for the start of the school year. While the resource list was important, it was an extra service, and part of a very long list of things that had to be done.”
On the subject of the public service announcement, Kraemer explained that curriculum issues came into play.
“You can’t just walk into a classroom and tell a teacher what to teach,” he said. “The video production department has a curriculum. A public service announcement is just one idea that has to be worked into that curriculum. Mrs. Castiglione was thinking short term, and I was thinking long term. I have to find a way to embed this into the format of the class.”
Current board member Melissa Senatore filled Feldmann's seat. Her term expires on Dec. 31. She is running for a three-year term.
The board has 65 days from the date of Castiglione’s resignation to appoint a new member to complete her term, which will end on Dec. 31.