Councilman David Cummings has organized a forum on the upcoming referendum question that asks whether Montclair should continue having a Type I school district with a mayor-appointed school board, or a Type II district with an elected board.
The forum on Oct. 25 from 7 to 8:30 p.m. in the Glenfield Middle School auditorium, follows an virtual-only forum to be hosted Montclair Local the evening of Thursday, Oct. 21. The Oct. 25 event will additionally be streamed on the Montclair TV34 YouTube channel. Those who attend in person will be required to wear facemasks and social distancing protocols will be in place, Cummings, who represents the Fourth Ward, said in an announcement of the event.
Questions can be emailed in advance to Cummings at email@example.com
Panelists for the event are: Dan Gill, a Glenfield Middle School teacher and 50-year educator in the Montclair Public School system (as well as the father of County Commissioner Brendan Gill); Johanna Wright, a member of the elected South Orange-Maplewood Board of Education as well as a member of the Essex County College Board of Trustees, which is appointed by county commissioners; Robert Benecke, Montclair’s financial consultant, who has worked with Type I and Type II school districts; and Erik D’Amato, founder of Vote Montclair, the group that successfully petitioned to bring the referendum forward. Wright is additionally a participant in the Montclair Local forum, representing the League of Women Voters of the Montclair Area.
The discussion will be led by the Rev. Craig Dunn, executive director of the Montclair Neighborhood Development Corporation. Dunn will provide an opening statement to introduce the participants, and will then open the discussion with questions to the panelists, Cummings said in the announcement. Following the first set of questions for each panelist, Dunn will open questions to members of the audience.
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“I have tried to make my community meetings cover subjects that primarily focus on the Fourth Ward,” Cummings said. “This issue involves the entire town. The panelists chosen were selected because each brings a different perspective and collectively they will be able to provide answers to the many questions residents may have before making a decision.
He said it was especially important to him that Benecke participates, because of his understanding of the financial impact of having an elected or an appointed board.
“As the township’s financial consultant, I have had the opportunity to work with him on the Finance Committee, and his knowledge of municipal finance is unmatched, Cummings said. “He will be able to provide what I think is a critical understanding of the two positions, and their potential impact on taxpayers and the Township’s finances.”