Asbury Park School Board Tackles Vacancy Appointments Amid Financial Concerns

The Asbury Park School Board recently convened to address the appointment of new members and delve into pressing financial challenges facing the district. In a development, Dr. Shade Maku was appointed to fill a board vacancy, following a debate on the process’s transparency and fairness. The board also faced serious financial scrutiny, highlighting the need for additional state aid and responsible management of district resources, including a potential annual loss of $60,000 due to waived facility fees. Moreover, the meeting recognized January as School Board Recognition Month and explored collaborative efforts with the city for public use and maintenance of sports facilities.

The appointment process for the board vacancy took center stage, as board members expressed concerns over the adequacy of the notice given to candidates and the interview procedures. The board grappled with whether questions for candidates should be asked by each member or by a single representative. Despite initial frustrations and concerns voiced by some members, the board proceeded with the interviews, ultimately appointing Dr. Shade Maku to fill the vacancy. Dr. Maku, along with fellow candidates Craig Depalo and Fia Kendall, fielded questions concerning their visions for the district, their qualifications, and their commitment to the ethical and time requirements of board membership.

Superintendent RaShawn M. Adams played a role in clarifying that while there are no statutory requirements for conducting vacancy interviews, it is customary for the board to determine its own process. Kenneth E. Saunders, Jr. took the lead in outlining the format and questions for the candidates.

Financial concerns were also a predominant theme of the meeting, with the Finance committee addressing the district’s critical financial condition. The committee called attention to the necessity of additional state aid and the importance of verifying resident students to prevent inappropriate allocation of funds. The potential loss of significant revenue due to waived facility fees was another topic of concern, emphasizing the financial tightrope the district walks. The Buildings and Grounds committee reported on property-related matters, including the sale of a building on Second Avenue and the lease for administrative offices. A proposal for the construction of tennis courts at MLK was discussed, including the associated deadline and the exploration of a partnership with the city for shared use and upkeep of outdoor facilities.

The board’s commitment to enhancing educational and extracurricular opportunities was evident in the Athletics committee’s report, with Jessiemae Ricks introducing the idea of introducing rowing to the high school’s sports offerings.

The meeting also included ceremonial and procedural elements, with the unanimous approval of a resolution recognizing January as School Board Recognition Month. The consent agenda was accepted with some abstentions and recusals on specific items, and the meeting concluded with a motion to adjourn and a welcome to Dr. Maku as the newest board member.

Did we get something wrong? Let us know.
RaShawn M. Adams
School Board Officials:
Kenneth E. Saunders, Jr., Giuseppe Grillo, Wendi Glassman, Barbara Lesinski, Dr. Michael Penna, Anthony Remy, Jessiemae Ricks, Tracy Rogers, Chanta L. Jackson (Communications Coordinator)

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