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Results: Voters Reject Artificial Turf Plan

Residents reject Board of Education's plan to use $990K in surplus funds to install a new field.

A new artificial turf surface and drainage system won't be installed at the football field after voters rejected the plan by a 186-vote margin on Tuesday.

The Board of Education asked voters for permission to install the field with up to $990,000 from a surplus gained by switching insurance carriers in July.

Poll results showed 1,357 voters were against the turf field while 1,171 voters were in favor.

The Board of Education unanimously supported the plan, saying the district eventually needed to improve the field regardless of the outcome of the vote and that installing artificial turf was the best choice.

People on both sides felt strongly about the issue, with supporters saying artificial turf would be safer, used more and would cost less than a grass field in the long run due to lower maintenance costs and lower transportation costs because high school athletes would not need to be bused to other fields as often.

Some residents said the grass field could have been maintained for less than the cost of installing artificial turf, and that they would have rather seen the surplus used on other projects.

The question involved a portion of a $1.5 million surplus that was created when the district got a better offer for health insurance coverage and then switched comanies.

Supporters of the project gathered in the lobby of the township municipal building Tuesday around 9 p.m. After the votes were tallied, they said they were disappointed with the results and attributed the failure to voters who did not understand the merits of the plan.

"We're just very disappointed for the kids in the community," Superintendent Dr. Paul Fried said. He said the field affects all students in the district.

Board of Education President Dr. Karen Cortellino also said she was disappointed. She said the district did a good job of presenting its case for artificial turf and that parent groups rallied support.

In April, voters approved the budget 1,923-1,217.

Steven L. October 02, 2011 at 04:11 PM
Cynthia, I beg to differ. No one DESERVES to be on a field. Our schools have taken a major detour away from their primary mission of providing an education that prepares students for life in an increasingly competitive environment. The answer is to stop. End taxpayer funded sports, marching band, and other non-classroom extra-curricular activities. Leave those things to the private sector to determine if demand is there. Lots of kids attend privately funded gymnastics at places like Northstars in Boonton. In Randolph there is an entire business park that has privately funded indoor soccer/lacrosse, skating, hockey, cheerleading, gymnastics, etc. If there is a demand, then the private sector will quickly meet it. We need to rid ourselves of the notion that government/taxpayers must fund everything. Particularly at a time when many of us are paying over 20% of our take home pay in property taxes, we simply can not afford to continue providing non-classroom activities at taxpayer expense. And schools who are constrained by a 2% cap, that is eaten away by increases in health care and salaries, are going to continue to be squeezed in their ability to meet their obligation to fund the core competencies. The answer is to get out of the athletic and extra-curricular business, stick to the classroom, and let the private sector handle demand for athletics, etc., if demand is there.
George Drexl October 02, 2011 at 05:03 PM
Steven L., You certainly have a lot to say about what people deserve and what they don't. When did you elect yourself the resident authority on democracy. Do you have any experience or involvement in any type of government?? If you do I would like to know what it is so I can review your track record and if you don't I would be just as eager to know your full name so that I know who not to vote for in any future election of any type. You keep harping about gymnastics and Northstars costing you money. Well I'm sorry but this is something you decided to do for your children since I don't believe the high school has this program. If they did would you feel differently that many of us help pay for that without involvement of our own children?? Please list all the classes and programs your children are involved in and give the rest of us the opportunity to review if we feel they deserve participation based on our families interest or involvement. If you don't like the way our school system works then I for one emplore you to pack up and move where your idea's have been implimented.....good luck with that
Steven L. October 02, 2011 at 09:46 PM
Mr. Drexl, My wife and I voted for the turf, though our kids go to private schools. We don't have a dog in this fight. You and the others can continue doing things the same way (remember Einstein's definition of insanity) while expecting a different result, but the fact is that voters just rejected a very reasonable plan for turf, and they've voted down two out of the past three school budgets, IIRC. Clearly, the point of resistance has been met. Education is the school's basic mandate. Students need to be prepared, with greater classroom emphasis, for a much more competitive work world today. Athletics, while nice and valuable, cannot continue to be funded by our taxpayers who have clearly and repeatedly indicated their displeasure. You may not like that, but don't blame the messenger. This pattern is being repeated all over. Local property taxes have exceeded the public's willingness and ability to pay. Something has to give. My point is that classroom education needs to be the priority for the sake of children's futures, and the future of our country. Emphasis needs to be placed there, and classroom programs expanded. Unfortunately athletics, marching band, and other extra-curriculars will have to be cut. The private sector will meet the demand if it exists. I've said my piece. You don't have to agree, but don't be surprised and unprepared when the inevitable arrives. These programs are going to get cut. It's just a matter of when.
Steven L. October 02, 2011 at 09:51 PM
Mr. Drexl, Additionally, I wasn't "harping" about Northstars. I was pointing out that many parents pay for programs that the schools do not offer. There is no reason to believe it would be any different with football, marching band, cheerleading, and the rest when the schools can longer provide them because voters keep rejecting the budgets. The businesses I mentioned in Randolph have sprung up to meet the demand.
George Drexl October 02, 2011 at 10:25 PM
Steven L., Still not confident enough to reveal your name huh??....not surprised. Don't be surprised that your twisted outlook of what is important across the board never comes to pass. Although the turf was voted down I seriously doubt that the majority of the public feels as you do regarding everything except "classroom" activities and programs...there are too many of us that have children involved in these and as Ms. Palma pointed out, those of us who have college students know for a fact that these activities and programs helped get them into the college of their choice along with academics. You state that your children go to private school.....do they have sports and other programs outside the classroom?? I know they do and you pay for them as well. Do you whine to them also and ask for pro-rated tuition or do you suck it up because you think your children are getting something better educationally there?? I know many people who have sent their kids to private schools specifically because of sports and the like and for the most part the academic advantages are minimal. As far as ISP goes, this facility is doing well largely due to club teams and off season play of sports that ARE offered in our school system. Their main participants include lacrosse, baseball, softball, soccer......which of these are not offered by MTHS or the other schools in our and virtually any other district?? Again I invite you to moved where ever the general public agrees with you.

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