Pleasantville High School

Pleasantville High School. June 2019.

PLEASANTVILLE — In its first meeting with a newly appointed interim superintendent and two state monitors present, the local Board of Education took more action to reduce staff in the district.

On Monday, during a special meeting, the board approved cutting two more positions: executive secretary to the superintendent and interim director of operations.

The vote comes after the board last month eliminated more than a dozen positions as suggested by the Atlantic County executive superintendent to balance its budget. The staff reduction did not come easy, being delayed several times by board members before the state intervened and appointed a second state monitor to the district.

In addition to the staff cuts, the board, in a split vote, did not approve re-appointing The Carroll Law Firm as the board’s attorney, according to the board minutes. Board members James Barclay, Cassandra Clements, Sharnell Morgan and Jerome Page voted against the resolution, while board President Carla Thomas and members Hassan Callaway and Anny Melo voted in favor. Board members Rick Norris and Bernice Couch did not attend the meeting.

Page said Friday he wanted to review the other proposals received by the district before making a decision.

Reached by phone, James Carroll, who has served as the board attorney for several years, said the state monitor has extended his contract until the board fills the position.

The board on Monday also approved the creation of a new position of in-house counsel, which Carroll said will work with human resources to address employee grievances “which have plagued the district.”

“One of the ways to reduce legal fees, which I support, by the way, is to have an attorney in house who can handle a lot of the personnel issues at an early stage so they don’t become litigation,” Carroll said Friday.

Monday was Superintendent Dennis Anderson’s first meeting since being appointed to the district last month, temporarily filling the position vacated June 30 by Clarence Alston. Also present was new state-appointed monitor J. Michael Rush, as well as state fiscal monitor Constance Bauer.

The board on Monday also approved an interlocal services agreement for three Class III police officers to serve the district. This will be the third year Pleasantville will use the officers — who do not collect pension and benefits — in its schools. The district was one of the first in the state to do so after the law creating the position for recently retired police officers went into effect in 2017.

The next regular meeting of the school board is set for 5 p.m. Tuesday in the high school cafeteria. That agenda has not yet been posted.

Contact: 609-272-7251 Twitter @clairelowe

Staff Writer

I began covering South Jersey in 2008 after graduating from Rowan University with a degree in journalism. I joined The Press in 2015. In 2013, I was awarded a NJPA award for feature writing as a reporter for The Current of Hamilton Township.

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