Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Greater Egg Regional School Board Shuts Down Galloway Mayor at Public Meeting

You may sit back and say I guess I heard it all; but after you finish reading this article the only thing you may wonder is, "What are they hiding"?

Galloway Township Mayor Don Purdy attended what was supposed to be a routine Regional School Board Meeting at the Cedar Creek High School on Monday, January 25, 2016 when he was shut down by the Board during public participation.

Purdy, who represents a town with a significant amount of 55 and older communities, single family homes and a high foreclosure rate due to the decline of Atlantic City, requested the Board evaluate their budget for 2016 and propose a flat budget with a zero increase. The Boards response however, was that this years budget was already slated to utilize the full 2 percent cap increase they could possibly use leaving the tax rate to increase for not only Galloway Township but also for Hamilton Township, Mullica Township, Egg Harbor City and Port Republic.

Purdy spoke at the meeting with the support of the other Greater Egg Harbor Regional Mayors excluding Egg Harbor City. Mullica Township Mayor James Brown was also in attendance at the meeting. Brown and Purdy also represent the Atlantic County Mayor's Association as President and Vice-President respectively. 

With permission Purdy spoke on behalf of Port Republic Mayor Gary Giberson and Hamilton Township Mayor Roger Silva. All according to Purdy, are requesting the Board to realize the significant impact a tax increase would have on their respective communities.

An additional topic of discussion was the merit bonuses Superintendent John Keenan has received as part of a condition in his employment contract. Bonuses that were above and beyond his entitled salary of $167,500. Purdy questioned the fiscal responsibility of the Board in awarding such merits and utilizing taxpayer money for bonuses. Keenan received a merit bonus of $24,750 in 2015. According to Keenan's contract, he will continue to receive merit bonuses at a substantial increase until the expiration of his contract in 2019. Additionally, if Keenan's contract is renewed, the merit bonuses will continue until at least 2024. 

The Board voted in the affirmative in 2015 on Keenan's merit bonuses with two abstentions. One from Garrison and the other from Sartorio with no reasoning listed in the minutes.  

At the height of the conversation Purdy was shut down by the Board and not permitted to continue his comments due to a 3-minute rule stated by the Board.  As part of the Board agenda, the Board states it welcomes public participation and values the opinions from the residents. That was not the case here. Although the agenda states "each speaker is asked to limit their comments to three minutes", there is no law that the Board can limit or prohibit the freedom of speech of those in attendance. But they did that of Galloway Township Mayor Don Purdy as well as other members of the public that spoke.

After other members of the public spoke at the meeting, the Board requested if anyone else would like to comment.  Purdy approached the Board again and requested to continue as all other public concerns were heard. At that time according to Purdy, Superintendent John Keenen stifled Purdy by waiving his hands to the Board President Carol Houck and stating Purdy's time was up. The Board President at that time did not permit Purdy to continue to speak and address the Board.

Keenan has already been placed in the middle of controversy this past year with the Teachers Union by forcing them to vote against him.

The members of the Greater Egg Harbor Regional School District are voted in by the residents of the respective sending districts which includes Galloway, Hamilton, Mullica Township, Egg Harbor City and Port Republic. Galloway Township makes up the majority of the Board Member seats. According to Purdy, he was trying to address the concerns that most affect the majority of the Board, however, the Board's answer was that Purdy should have called ahead in order for his concerns to be heard.

Each Mayor of the respective municipalities have an open unlimited forum in which they can speak to the public on these issues at their Town meetings, yet they were not permitted to speak to the Board directly without limiting their speech in public to 3-minutes.

Purdy stated he was disappointed in the conduct of the Board and although each municipality may limit their public portion, he has never stifled a member of the public that has come forward to address concerns within his town that may go over the limit. 

Why? Only the Greater Egg Harbor Regional School Board Members can answer the question of, "What are you trying to hide that Mayor's can not openly speak at your meetings"?


Anonymous said...

People having been calling for getting rid of this highly corrupt district for years.

Church on Main said...

The public portion of a Board of Education meeting should be a time for the public to be heard. Boards of Education like to limit speech, especially when they actions they take are unpopular. I disagree with the position Mayor Purdy espoused, but I believe that he, and every other member of the public should get a full hearing of their views.

Anonymous said...

Carol Houck has some nerve doing what she did by giving into Keenan's demands and forcing Purdy to stop speaking. We voted for her to be on that board now it is our duty to oust her along with Lois Garrison, Margaret Guenther, and Vicki Hood as soon as possible. They clearly just run for these positions for power, not to represent the best interest of students, taxpayers, or teachers.

Anonymous said...

People have been anonymously making unverifiable statements on the internet for years.

Anonymous said...

GEHRHSD help budget increase to 2% per year. Sounds great. Per page 19 of the Galloway 2015 budget,, Galloway spending rose ~5.8 from 2014 to 2015,from $10,694,036 to $11,217,774. Maybe we should all go to Galloway council meetings and lecture them on their spending.

Anonymous said...

Mayor Purdy I hope all is well. You may recall for over 15 years I tried to commission a study for Galloway and Hamilton becoming K-12 districts. Sincerely, Al DeSimone
. Taxpayers have been overpaying, two superintendent s, assistant supers Etc for decades. Also, any non biased person in education will admit K-12 is a better form of education. Please have a conversation with Vito Gagliardi. He is a lawyer who worked on 5 similiar situations. He is 5 for 5. In Galloway teachers and administrators have always fought it. 174,000 for a Super ? Wow.

Donna Hale-Scheuermann said...

It is disgraceful to cut the Mayor off because you didn't want to hear what he had to say. Shame on you!!!! He was simply stating what the taxpayers have been saying. Do you want more foreclosures? You cannot just close your eyes and ears and think this crises caused by Atlantic City will go away. All responsible parties must act to decrease the taxes paid by Atlantic County residents. No one can afford to live here. These houses are not worth the taxes we are paying.

Anonymous said...

Its disgusting the amount of money principals and superintendents make. Bonuses are legal means of stealing tax payer money. Emergency Medical Technicians' and first responders base pay in this state is about thirteen dollars an hour. They are out risking their lives to save lives and they barely scrape by. Everything is backwards in this state. Pleasantville superintendents and principals are paid obscenely high as well. The board of education is the new mafia. We have people who cannot even speak proper English making over a hundred thousand dollars a year to sit behind a desk and attend circus side show board meetings. We pay for their Bentleys and Mcmansions with our tax dollars. I hope they all burn in hell. Greedy bastards.

Publisher said...

On Monday, 1/25/16, I too attended the school Board Meeting. It was an ABSOLUTE DISGRACE the way the MAYOR OF GALLOWAY TOWNSHIP DON PURDY was treated. The school board was downright RUDE . They sat there with
SMUG looks on their faces. REAL POMPOUS . They limited the time of Public participation to 3 minutes. OUR MAYOR was asked to SIT DOWN, and not allowed to finish his comments. I was willing to forfeit my time as was others,only to be told that was NOT ALLOWED. As I recall, last Tuesday, we had a visit from Superintendent Keenan at our township meeting. OUR MAYOR allowed him to speak freely. He was never told we ask our public to try and keep their comments to 5 minutes. HE, was treated with the UPPERMOST RESPECT. WE on the otherhand , was treated like dirt underneath their fingernails. (that was putting it mildly). I am OUTRAGED at the ATROCIOUS way we ,as well as our MAYOR was TREATED. They did not allow any of us to FINISH what we wanted to say. I did manage to get my point across barely. But none of my questions were ANSWERED. Did I EXPECT that???? YES!!!! Because they NEVER DO answer your questions. THEY FEEL far superior to us because,(here comes the truth) THEY DON'T HAVE TO ANSWER TO ANYONE. AND THEY KNOW IT!!!!. I's time for a CHANGE. After the meeting, on the way out, I told the President Carol Houck
that I thought she was RUDE, and that rules are meant to be BENT. The residents of Galloway Township came there with questions and concerns. That is why I DO NOT ATTEND any school board meetings, because this is how you

Mrs J

Publisher said...

I attended and spoke at the meeting and feel what happened to Mayor Purdy was much worse than what is being reported. From their body language you could see that they didn’t want to hear the Mayors comments. Their demeanor was much different to the other speakers including myself. When Mayor Purdy was informed of the 3 minute limit a number of us offered their minutes but our request was denied. At that point Mayor Purdy stated he would sit down and wait until other people had a chance to speak. Mrs. J was there who quite forcibly, called them out, asked questions about the process and made her comments. Although, MS. Houck said she was writing down the questions and would answer them, she never did. Mrs. J is still waiting for the answers to her questions!!!

What makes the discrimination against Mayor Purdy so obvious and blatant was the way I was treated during the meeting. After the Mayor spoke I stood up for the first time and addressed an insensitive comment regarding Galloway by one of the board members and sat down. After everyone had spoken the Mayor stood up again. After his attempt was shot down he sat down. At which point, I stood up and said I didn’t use my 3 minutes and had another comment and would like to speak again. They permitted me to address them once again. Why me and not Mayor Purdy?

I would like to address a comment made in a previous post which used the term McMansion. This was the first time I saw the Cedar Creek School and it fits that description to a tee. I was and I’m still in shock. The building with all of its glass and performing art and other wings is a school one would expect to see on a college campus. Or, in a very rich community. And, we all know we are not!!!!

Nick Russo

Unknown said...

I agree with you Donna. They can't keep increasing our taxes due to this area's economic decline. All the surrounding communities can't and shouldn't continue to increase their local taxation due to AC's decline. Furthermore, the GEHRSD should realize this and "tighten their belts" like everyone else!

Anonymous said...

This county community cant handle anymore tax increases. GEHRSD needs to: "tighten their belts". Why is a superintendant getting paid $176k a year with inrementing bonuses. What does he have to show for it?

Unknown said...

So much for freedom of speech. If the Mayor can't speak so much for American freedom of speech .what next ????

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