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Board of Ed Loses Third Member in a Year

Latest two under current superintendent.

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.

RB September 21, 2012 at 12:34 PM
Interesting .... I work in Education I dont see how not one person could compile a list of resources and post them on the web - I could do that in a couple of hours .... sounds like a bunch of lame excuses.
Bob September 21, 2012 at 12:42 PM
The PSA reasoning might be valid but tt does not take very long to put a list of resources on a website. The SACs were helpful but JTPS is notorious in the social work community for having one of the worst environments for support in Morris and Sussex county. Not being able to find the time or resource to provide a simple list of resources on a website speaks volumes.
Bob September 21, 2012 at 12:44 PM
Exactly RB. Bottom line is, it's not a priority. Actions speak louder than words.
Mother in Town September 21, 2012 at 12:47 PM
I find this comment riddled with back tracking. According to all of the Ad Hoc updates that I heard the video production was discussed very early on, within the first three meeting. So why wasn't it assigned then or perhaps discussed as a club? The list we heard about over and over..being tweaked and refined. Is our district that busy that it couldn't be put on the website or made available in someway. We are not idiots, we all knew the ad hoc committee was short term. It is a committee formed to accomplish a particular goal. So we are suppose to believe after all that work they were "too busy" to implement anything. I would resign to. Where does it stop.
Worried September 21, 2012 at 01:11 PM
I walked away from this and couldn't stop thinking...everytime I read about this in The Aim or was at a meeting I thought what are they going to do when they implement testing. So, the Ad Hoc was temporary. There was no plan for that committee or one similar to be formed to track the testing, discuss the effectiveness and review what changes might need to made. It is just like our school to do things half way. My niece last Monday just lost a 23 year old friend to a heroin overdose after one year clean of being clean. So what do we need? Who's kid does it need to be? Maybe we need a heroin overdose on the turf field to matter? I only saw this woman at meetings but she put herself and her son on the line to make a difference and wake us all up and our school blew it. We shot the messenger.
Below the Radar September 21, 2012 at 02:27 PM
I lived in Jefferson in 10 years ago and moved because my son had a heroin problem. I met Mrs. Castiglione at the first heroin task force meeting in Trenton. As she sat at the table and passionately discussed what the Jefferson Twp. school district was doing to be on the leading edge of education and prevention I couldn't believe my ears. That is not the district I left. So much so my husband and I sat in the back of the next BOE meeting. Sure enough it was all true. At the next task force meeting Mrs. Castiglione provided copies of everything because there had been discussion of modeling programs statewide after Jefferson. The list and video production was talked about LONG ago. There is no excuse or timeline that should be allowed as an excuse. If Mr. Kraemer can't dictate curriculum than way even have the discussion and bring forward so many times at BOE meeting or to the state level. We lost our son and sadly so will someone in Jefferson. There should be no excuses. All the pieces were in place and it blew up...you all need to ask why. I knew it was too good to be true. It is sad.
Chris Davis September 21, 2012 at 07:07 PM
It is so obvious that all of the "Ad Hoc updates" that you "heard" of came directly from the committee that you sat on. You did not fulfill the obligation that you were elected to do; you abruptly terminated your seat and posted your slant of the events that took place (some of them I suppose highly confidential) under a fictitious name. What we have here is another board of education member who did not understand and accept their role not to administer the Schools and to serve out of a sincere desire to benefit the community, not for their own personal glory or their personal objectives. Really Worried... Mother Bugs! Wake up and smell the coffee or should I say the flowers?!
Judy Castiglione September 21, 2012 at 07:38 PM
Mr. Davis, I can assure it is not me. I have moved on. If you know anything about me the drug initiative was always about others. You are welcome to stop by and discuss it in person. I wish you and all nothing but the best. Yes, this post is Judy Castiglione
A friend September 21, 2012 at 08:13 PM
I will comment & try not to judge or be mean (a trait left best for others). To be very clear I am not Judy. I do know her & am proud to call her my friend. To Chris Davis & others who like to criticize I only ask this: If you know a child who has ever been influenced in a positive manner by Keith Hawkins-thank Judy. If you know a young woman, mother, or wife, who has ever been abused & sought council & found it–thank Judy. If you know a teacher that felt better about JTown because of a small “thank you gift” or luncheon provided at back to school–thank Judy. If you believe drug use is a problem & that it is important to understand it, reduce it, & help children avoid drug use, call her & say “hey, I might have under estimated all that you’ve tried to do”. You clearly know how to reach her. She has helped make things better in all these areas. Instead of criticizing because she just couldn’t do it one more day, or "you heard this or that about her"– pick up the cause and help. Otherwise, as I am sure you were told by your parents (and I by mine) – “if you don’t have anything good to say………” Our town needs the very best of us. Let’s be positive and help one another. Let us be the ones that help and recognize the good in others. The next time someone says – why didn’t this person do that let’s say, I’ll do this! Our community needs us – to be mature, adults who contribute. 13 years for Judy was enough to just say THANKS
JS September 21, 2012 at 08:31 PM
For those of you who are singling out Ms. Castiglione and bad mouthing her, let's try and focus instead on the real issues at hand. Jefferson certainly does have a drug problem and there are too many parents who either ignore it or have the "not my kid" attitude. Because she is passionate about wanting to have a substance abuse program implemented is not a bad thing. She is only trying to help others, I see absolutely no personal agenda. To attack her and tell her to focus on her own children (as commented in the first story about her resignation) is ridiculous. There are many issues that need to be addressed in our school system. Perhaps it is like this in every town, I don't know. But instead of fighting shouldn't we all try to work together? Thankfully my kids will be out of the school system soon but I can tell you this, if I had younger kids they would not be going to the MS or the HS. I haven't experienced a lot of what I hear and see with others but there doesn't seem to be much support from the school when complaints are voiced. And I don't believe it is the total fault of our teachers and guidance counselors, I believe their hands are tied because of the BOE. If three people have resigned even if they were for different reasons isn't that saying something?
JS September 21, 2012 at 09:01 PM
I don't know who you are, but you are definitely someone I would be proud to call a friend for the way you stood up for yours.
OakRidge Dave September 23, 2012 at 12:35 AM
Back to the PSA issue. Last year my son, and everyone in his 9th grade health class had an assignment to make a PSA video. They had a list of relevant topics (drug abuse, dating violence etc..) They made videos, showed them in class and were graded on their efforts. This was part of the Health class curriculum. I do not see why it would be so difficult for the school to incorporate similar assignments in the Video class?


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