Superintendent Makes Case for Keeping Fields Options Open
School board meets for the second time this week to discuss how to proceed with high school athletic upgrades.
The fate of the most recent attempt to improve the athletic facilities at Parsippany and Parsippany Hills high schools will be decided by the Parsippany Board of Education Thursday night.
The school board is considering whether it wants to move forward with an effort to put the matter of funding improvements on a referendum that would take place in February 2013.
In Thursday's meeting, in order to meet a DOE deadline, the board members must decide two major issues:
- Will it send a plan for upgrading, among other things, the schools' football fields, to the Department of Education for review (a preliminary step in the quest for a referendum)?
- What improvement options will be on the list sent to the DOE?
Superintendent of Schools LeRoy Seitz told Patch that as of right now, there is no plan, merely choices.
"What we have presented is a list of options," he said. "The board will have to make a decision of what items it will send for review by the DOE."
Seitz said the formal fields plan won't be set until November. Even if the board approved sending to the DOE every item on the options list, which has a collective value of $11.5 million, the plan could be amended.
"You can take things away after you've submitted a preliminary plan to the DOE, but you cannot add anything," the superintendent said. "If you only want to have X, Y and Z, all you have to do is notify them. They already have the specs for the review.
"It wouldn't be an issue."
The school board has the option of sending the entire list, any combination of the items--one example would be "turf fields, drainage, 6-lane track, bleachers" --or none at all.
The Thursday meeting--the second BOE fields-related gathering this week--takes place at 7 p.m. at the administrative building, 292 Parsippany Road.
Michael Pietrowicz, chair of the township's Fields of Dreams subcommittee, is beating the drum to get pro-FOD people to the school board meeting.
The following comes from an email he sent out far and wide Wednesday:
We are all aware of the terrible and embarrassing field conditions at our high schools. ... We are all probably tired of the long drawn out process, biased media coverage and small but vocal opposition. Please don’t get complacent or exhausted. Our kids now and in the future need our help. I hope as many people as possible can attend the BoE meeting tomorrow night. ... They need to hear our voices.
Pietrowicz is seen by many in Parsippany as the architect of the Fields of Dreams plan, which was backed by Mayor James Barberio.
That plan, for an estimated $4.5 million, would have included turf fields for each high school, track refurbishments, modernized lighting and new fencing. The condition for this proposal was that the Board of Education would have to give up its control of the football fields, etc., in perpetuity.
That proved a breaking point for the board, which promptly rejected the Fields of Dreams and said it would find its own solution.