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Fields Plan Failure Could Be Felt in Classrooms

Superintendent warns if referendum is voted down, teachers could be let go, technology scaled back.

The projected at and high schools elicited many comments for and against it at .

But Superintendent of Schools LeRoy Seitz said that if voters do not approve the plan in a January referendum, students and homeowners could pay the price.

The ambitious plan would create separate multipurpose athletic complexes for each high school consisting of artificial turf fields, new eight-lane track ovals, modernized lighting, renovated concession stands and new restroom facilities, sound systems, Americans with Disabilities Act-compliant grandstands and more.

The plan appears to be more comprehensive than Mayor James Barberio's previously debated turf plan, the so-called Fields of Dreams. That rejected plan, which called for the BOE to cede control of the high school football fields, included synthetic turf fields, track improvements, lighting and bleachers. The estimated cost of the mayor's plan was $4.5 million that would have been paid for with Open Space Trust Fund monies over 15 years. That figure did not include costs for replacement of the turf carpets, which have an . 

At the meeting, resident Hank Heller characterized the planned complexes pushed by the district as "Taj Mahals." 

Seitz said the description could not be farther from the truth.

"We are talking about basic things here," he said at the Wednesday meeting, noting that the proposed locker rooms wouldn't even include lockers. "It will be a small room with a cement floor, benches and hook on the walls. ... We did not do anything extravagant."

Similarly, he said bathrooms will be small and will have no more than two or three stalls available for each gender.

The school district's plan is to put the plan before voters via a special January referendum that would cost $30,000.

According to the superintendent, as expensive as the plan may appear to some, the costs could be higher if the work is broken down and done in spurts. 

"If [the referendum] goes down, repairs of, say, bleachers will have to come out of the operating budget," Seitz warned. "That means layoffs of teachers, a scaling back of technology. We [work under a] 2 percent hard cap, so [if voters reject the plan], it will impact instruction.

"It's that simple."

He added that the plan is comprised of repairs and renovations that are necessary whether the complexes are approved by voters or not.

"If they aren't funded through the referendum, most of these things still need to be done soon," Seitz said. "That will have an impact on future school budgets."

He pointed to the fact that under law, the 2 percent cap on tax increases does not permit waivers for capital projects.

Additionally, he said, if multiple referendums are needed to get approval for individual projects, that will mean more paid out in election costs. Construction costs would rise as well, he said, due to multiple, smaller projects, possible increases in interest rates and the interconnected nature of some of the individuals jobs involved.

An example of this interconnection, he noted, would be the installation of artificial turf for the football fields. That project determines what happens with the work involving bleachers and drainage systems.

As it stands, the plan is projected to cost approximately $11.5 million, said the superintendent. The tax burden to homeowners would be spread out over 10 years, costing the average taxpayer $54 dollars per year, or a dollar a week.

If voters say no to the district plan, he warned they potentially and unwittingly could be setting themselves up to pay even more over the long run.

Justine August 17, 2012 at 02:35 AM
Seitz should start by cutting his own salary and the administrators who make an absurd amount of money. They are simply underserving of such salaries. They do not have the expertise and the maturity to lead. They are cronies and politically connected individuals. Then he will find plenty of money to make the repairs he says are so badly needed. I just hate his threats and stupid comments. Why is this guy still here???????????
VietNam Vet August 17, 2012 at 06:03 AM
Justine, I have been saying this for along time now. Apprantly the main ones keeping him there and going along with anything he says is Mancuso, Neglia, Orme, Orthwein and Calabria so the other are out voted every time they want to do something. Seitz still doesn't have a legal contract, because the county supt. hasn't signed off on it yet and he is still working. I would like to know how he gets to keep his job and his big salary when technically he is not an employee of the school yet. I have never seen such things like this go on in any other town except in Parsippany. The mayor should have made the school board get rid of him, but he is sitting on it and not saying anything....as always. Neglia, Orme and Calabria come up for election in November. We have to vote these dead wood out now!!! They are only costing us more money everytime they open their mouths or raise their hands in another vote. The mayor's plan for the fields was $ 4.5 million, now Seitz gets his greedy hands on it and now its $ 11.5 million, WHY!!!!!!!!!!!
Justine August 19, 2012 at 07:06 PM
I totally agree with you Mr. Brown. Seitz has even sued the board for his "fake" contract. I do not know why the people of Parsippany are more vocal against this loser. Every district finds a replacement; why we continue to hold on to him? I am wondering why Mancuso and co love him so much???? He has demonstrated nothing but greed and self interest in every decision he brings forth. I know that the district will be better off without is inexistent leadership. I also wonder how he can be an employee when he "officially" has no contract with the board. Can anyone there explain this to me?
VietNam Vet August 20, 2012 at 04:19 AM
Justine the only reason he is still there is because of people like Neglia, Orme, Calabria and Mancuso. If we take them away, the others won't have a majority vote anylonger, and then maybe a few right things will get done, but the first three come up for election this year, I believe in November. We need to get these idiots out of there or we'll be back where we started from with nothing getting done except their way. Gee, its just like congress if you think about it, otherwise we are going to be at a stand still and be subjected to more fights and bickering over who did or said what again. Mr. Strumolo and Mr. Crawford tried to do that when they voted against seitz contract the first time, but was out voted by the other little clowns. We need to get rid of Orme, Neglia, and Calabria and then next year Mancuso has to go, who started the contract problems in the begining. We need new blood in there for a change, these people have been there to long. This year lets tell them we are tired of the greed and favoritism going on, and VOTE them out.
VietNam Vet August 20, 2012 at 04:30 AM
Selene, you want the this project so bad, why don't you show how big you are a fork over the dough for it, why should the seniors keep paying for yours and seitz's hairbrain dreams. We don't have any children in the schools so why do we have to continue to pay, afterall when have you offered to chip in and pay for any of our dreams or to stand up for some of the homeowners that were so badly hurt by hurricane Irene last year.

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