Parent demands superintendent’s resignation

Joseph P. McAleer II

I have been an outspoken critic of Matawan-Aberdeen Schools Superintendent Michael Klavon for some time, so naturally when I see a full page article wherein Klavon takes issue with the state of New Jersey school assessment test results, I pay close attention.

As I read the article in the March 1 Independent., I once again recognized the usual Klavon inconsistencies and swirling answers. First Klavon criticizes the state standardized tests, suggesting a change to a national test score to show the individual student test scores rather than the test scores presently in use, which show the entire school district’s scores. I am sure that the national test scores would not reflect as badly on Klavon as they would not show the test scores for the district Klavon is in charge of. Is Mr. Klavon playing hide and seek with test scores, as though all of the parents should only be concerned with their own child? I, for one, want to see where all of the children have scored in the district. Klavon goes on to take exception with the state’s core curriculum in total, foreign language instruction and the elementary grade levels (which is already under way in many school districts), stating that "the way the state has it almost forces districts to choose a language, so many have chosen Spanish." Here is a hint for Klavon. The two main languages in use in America’s workforce are English and Spanish, and will be so, always. Why not have students learn the language that will most help them in their working lives? That makes sense to me, but not to Klavon.

The most disturbing comments from Klavon in the article come when the proficiency test scores come up for each school in the district. Klavon’s answers left me angry, very angry! I have observed Klavon’s process for answering questions. It is normally a swirling, long-winded, inconcise response and always lays the answer at someone else’s doorstep. As test scores district-wide are consistently below average, Klavon points to the tests as the reason the district scores low. When a $1.4 million accounting shortfall causes another tax increase, it was the fault of someone no longer employed by the district. When the Charter School money was spent and had to be raised again, and again, and again, it was the state’s fault. Now the Klavon answer for why the proficiency test scores in the Cliffwood Elementary School are the lowest in the district is, and I quote Klavon, "Cliffwood School is the one school where we have a high concentration of free and reduced-lunch students," so more of these children start school with less enrichment, Klavon said, explaining the low score.

I could not believe what I had just read. Klavon will now blame low test scores in his district on his assertion that because a student is poor and has his/her lunch subsidized means they are less enriched and unable to score well on state tests. My two children attended the Cliffwood Elementary unit until we moved to Strathmore last August. My children continue to be on the honor roll as they now attend Strathmore Elementary and the high school. But for Klavon to make such a statement about the entire Cliffwood community is a statement that I find insulting and ignorant, and I call on Klavon to tender his resignation immediately. We as a community have had enough of Klavon’s excuses, finger pointing, and the placing of blame everywhere but on his desk.

I urge the Matawan Aberdeen Board of Education to finally take the necessary steps to bring leadership to our school district. This board has allowed Klavon and his excuses to embarrass our community for far too long. This board rehired Klavon with a dismal record of financial leadership, poor test scores, and now this insulting and ignorant statement toward the students and families of the Cliffwood Elementary School. It is inexcusable and calls for only one solution, that Klavon resign — immediately.

Joseph P. McAleer II is a resident of Aberdeen.

Voters can’t cut and run


he vote to introduce Middletown’s proposed 2000-01 school budget was peculiar, to say the least.

It wasn’t so much the 5-1 approval vote, although the absence of three members was a little strange.

What was really peculiar was the voting by the Back-to-Basics faction, which has controlled the board since around 1995. Of the five-member majority, only board President N. Britt Raynor, who is not seeking re-election next month, voted for the tentative spending plan.

Robert Whittemore, another Back-to-Basics member, cast the lone dissenting vote, and the other three members of the pack were absent on this all-important night.

Of that group, Phil Scaduto, like Raynor, is not seeking election next month, but the other two, Robert Bucco and John Johnson, remain on the board.

It’s purely speculative to question their absences, but they certainly do give rise to that type of thinking.

Surely the board could have picked a night when all could be present to introduce to voters a spending plan that, if approved, will push the school tax rate up an amazing 17 cents, 9 cents for the base budget, 4 cents for debt service which voters have already approved, and 4 cents for the separate $2 million budget question.

The new school superintendent, Dr. Jack DeTalvo, is taking the unusual step of making 13 budget presentations between today and April 13 at 12 of the district’s 17 schools and on different days of the week to provide residents ample opportunity to attend.

The public hearing on the budget, which will be followed by a vote on adoption, is scheduled for March 28, and on April 18 it will be up to you, the voters, to decide what to do.

To be able to make the right decision, you need to educate yourself on why the township is facing such a difficult budget year. This spending plan includes not one penny of surplus money and the debt service tax levy is skyrocketing.

Ultimately it’s a real Catch 22. You can spend more money or accept some deep cuts. You can’t run and hide as some board members appear to have done.

Be sure to attend one of the scheduled budget presentations.

Ab’deen voters want honesty, not deception

So now, Aberdeen residents are being told the conditions of our roadways "will continue to deteriorate if an adequate evaluation, maintenance and improvement program is not implemented," and that we should "seriously consider allocating additional funds" to fix this problem. In fact, our township manager has asked the township engineer to study the impact of "additional annual appropriations of $100,000, $200,000 and $300,000" above the current allotted funding. Aberdeen voters may remember a significantly different message coming from the same Township Council back during election time.

This past fall, those same council members campaigned across neighborhoods, touting the accomplishments of their road improvement program. You may remember one of their television campaign ads showing the improvements to the corner of Lloyd Road and Church Street, even though this is a county road whose improvement had very little to do with their municipal program.

Our deputy mayor claims that the most common complaint from the residents he met door to door was, "When is my street going to be done?" What he is not telling you is that it was under his and his running mates’ watch that this problem grew to its present, critical condition. And while they may have gone door to door listening to residents and feeling their pain, the bottom line is that they did not give residents the complete story, forgetting to mention the upcoming "bill" we will have to pay until after Election Day.

The mayor says this is a classic case of "pay me now or pay me later." What he does not tell you is that it’s really a case of elect me now, pay for it later. The truth is that Aberdeen’s roadways have been a political football in this town for far too long, and in the past Aberdeen voters have not been afraid to remove from office those who have not kept their Election Day promises.

What voters really need is leadership from their township government that tells them the complete story-allowing all residents to make informed decisions. The residents of Aberdeen have responded time and time again to the growing needs of our community, and we will shoulder the burden if it is for the betterment of the township. I encourage every Aberdeen resident to attend the public meeting March 21, where the budget will be discussed. And a question for those who plan to attend: If our taxes continue to increase during these good economic times, what will they do if the economy experiences a not-so-good year?

Adam Puharic


Former GOP candidate

Township Council

Middletown committee, school board need to get priorities in order

I truly believe that the members of the Middletown Township Committee and Board of Education believe that money does grow on trees.

The Middletown Township Committee is determined to destroy approximately 10 acres of trees and wildlife in order to expand Fairview Park’s existing two soccer fields into four soccer fields and paved parking for 200 cars at an approximate expense of $750,000. This is being pursued by the Township Committee even after knowing the residents of our area are opposed to this proposal. They also have spent approximately $400,000 of taxpayers’ money to purchase the Banfield property. When Mr. Banfield sold this property to our town, it was his intention and the citizens of Middletown were also led to believe that this was for open space and a future community center and playgrounds for our children. Now the Township Committee is allowing "temporary" train station parking on the Banfield property. This is not what the taxpayers of Middletown approved the open space money for. When residents pressed the committee to make a statement that this "temporary" parking would not become permanent, they refused to comment.

By their own admission the Township Committee approved the sale of approximately 2,500 parking permits when there are only 1,200 parking spots at the train station. It doesn’t take a genius to see that there were going to be problems. The committee has stated that this was done to protect the resale value of the homes in Middletown because no one would want to move here if there was a waiting list for permit parking.

Now for the Board of Education. In 1996 the taxpayers approved a $78 million bond to refurbish and improve the schools. Except for Bayshore Middle School, the work on the remaining schools has yet to be started. Now they discover they forgot furniture for the new additions. These people are in charge of millions of our dollars. A very frightening thought. Now to add further insult to the taxpayers, they have applied for a $6 million loan for the furniture from the state of New Jersey and a $7.6 million increase in the school budget to run the school this year. The new superintendent, Mr. Jack DeTalvo, states there will also be layoffs of teachers.

My question to the Board of Education is, if we are going to lay off teachers, why are we expanding our schools? Who will be put in the classrooms to teach, especially if this year’s budget is defeated?

My question for the Township Committee is, why are we spending at least $750,000 on soccer fields for which the need has yet to be proved and more than $400,000 on the Banfield property when apparently our schools are in dire need of additional funds?

Maybe these two entities should be working together. Since neither board seems able to plan for the future by itself, maybe working together and having long-term plans, with input from the residents of Middletown, will result in a township and school system we can be proud of.

As to the value of our homes, the Township Committee should be made aware that it is not the train station and soccer fields that make for higher property values, it is an efficient school system and natural quality of life.

Barbara DeSanto


Hazlet PBA donation to Amanda Cokelet deeply appreciated

We would like to take this opportunity to thank the Hazlet PBA 189 for the generous donation to the Amanda Cokelet Fund. Following Amanda’s double-lung transplant at Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center in New York last May, the financial burden still lingers. Thanks to the Hazlet PBA, our financial burden has been lightened. Amanda continues to do well with her doctor visits to New York every six weeks.

The Cokelet family


Keyport Police Director Frank Miele earned respect of all

It is not often that a person, or for that matter, a community, can count among its blessings the knowledge that they have been made better for having known just one person. We who live in Keyport are even the more fortunate in that we have been blessed with an entire family.

Frank Miele, one of our own, stepped forward to help his community in a time of need. To share with us his standards and sensibilities, his leadership, and when it was called for, his tough love. He gave us the opportunity to pause and look at ourselves and our assets and pointed many of us in the right direction.

He was a man, who, with his gentle touch, sometimes forced us to reconsider our convictions, our predisposed beliefs of life and our roles in it by showing us the larger picture and the possibilities. He liked nothing better than to see someone in his direction discover something about themselves and grow as an individual. I could see it in his eyes and hear it in his voice during the many discussions he and I had as he worked. There are many people in our community who have been made better, both personally and professionally, for having known Frank.

#Although deserving of it, he was not a man who looked for a pat on the back for himself for a job well done. If you were to try that with him, he would just direct you to the person or persons who actually did the work. I know he was proud of our department, this collection of policing professionals known as the Keyport police.

It is on behalf of this department that I would like to give a sincere and heartfelt thanks to Frank’s wife, Carol, and their family for their willingness to share Frank with us. They did so even after Frank had retired from a career with the New Jersey State Police, a career filled with many late nights away from the family, of missed family events, of supporting him through the days that followed any particular run-in with the underside of human behavior. At the time of his retirement, when they could have embraced and kept him for themselves, they instead chose to share him with this community; we are all the better for it.

But the lessons did not stop with the onset of Frank’s medical problems, for we were to witness and learn the true meaning of strength, dignity and compassion from this family. Even as he grappled with this tragic event in their lives, they, like Frank, sought to show us the way of understanding ourselves. The grace and understanding displayed by this family toward those of us who did not know what to say, what to do, was and continues to be, simply amazing and we are grateful for it.

Please know that we will consider ourselves fortunate indeed if we attain even half the measure of respect that we have for Frank and you, his family, in all that we do. You have taught us well.

Joseph E. Wedick

Police Commissioner

Keyport Borough Council

New Jersey’s core curriculum standards deplorable

We were promised "world class" academic standards. We were also promised "rigorous" standards and "tougher" state assessments. What we have received from the State Board and Department of Education are deplorable standards.

Every parent and taxpayer in this state should go to the Thomas B. Fordham Foundation Web site and read the reviews of independent experts of each of New Jersey’s academic subject areas. The report is called "The State of State Standards 2000" and can be found at:

The only academic area that received a decent grade is science. The rest are a disgrace — "C" in math and "F" in English, history and geography. In the summary, New Jersey is placed in the "irresponsible" category. It is not enough to simply state this situation is unacceptable.

Our children’s graduation is going to be based upon their performance on the assessments. In time, our school districts’ funding and certification will also be based upon the results.

The State Board and Department of Education appear incapable of creating and properly implementing a system that will ensure our children receive a quality education. We urge the Legislature to intervene immediately.

Marianne Kligman


Ronni Infantino


Improving scores not an impossible dream for Keyport

In your article dated March 1, your headline stated, "Keyport Happy With New Test Results." Would you please let me know who is happy with results that rank our high school in the bottom 25 percent of schools in Monmouth County (I’m being kind with the 25 percent figure)? Is Mr. Dumford happy? If so, perhaps it’s time to take a graduate course in analyzing test scores. Is the Board of Education happy? They are volunteers, not professional educators, and I applaud them for doing their best. Are the high school administrators happy? If so, they are inept administrators. Are the high school teachers happy? I’ve been teaching for 26 years, and I would be embarrassed. Are the students happy? If true, that’s sad. Are the people of this great town happy? I doubt it.

While raking leaves in the fall, I was proud to see our football team riding in fire trucks as they celebrated another state championship. I’d like to see a parade held when our high school’s state mandatory test scores rank in the top 50 percent of the country. I don’t think it’s an impossible dream. Take off the rose-colored glasses and get to work.

Mike Shaw


Thanks Kyrillos for attending meeting of VFW Auxiliary

On behalf of the members of the Ladies Auxiliary to the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post No. 2179, we would like to thank Sen. Joseph M. Kyrillos Jr. (R-13th) for attending the organization’s meeting on March 2 at the post home. Kyrillos spoke on very informative issues concerning veterans affairs.

Mary Reed

Legislative Chairwoman

Ladies Auxiliary VFW Post No. 2179