MontClairVoyant: A Board Is Selected, and It’s Elected!


Your reaction to the results of Tuesday’s referendum on whether to change Montclair’s appointed Board of Education to an elected one?


The Village Choice

There was a referendum on November 2? Must have been under the radar. I don’t think I saw even one million impassioned Facebook comments about it. Maybe 900,000 or so. Almost a secret.


Yeah, right. Your last three columns certainly made clear your support of an elected BOE — which was preferred overwhelmingly in the referendum! Happy?


Second That Emotion

Very. Given that voters nixed an elected BOE in 2009 and several previous times, something happened since ’09. That something was everyone getting 12 years older, except Beetle Bailey.


He’s a cartoon character. Anyway, did voters opt for a change because of periodic displeasure with the appointed BOE, and the associated Board of School Estimate?


Montclair’s B&B

Yes. As I’ve said before, there were multiple superintendents, not enough of a push to fund desperately needed school-infrastructure upgrades, an “enemies list” of people who criticized bad BOE actions, the board backing this year’s lawsuit against a Montclair Education Association rightly reluctant to return to classrooms until COVID shots became more widespread and building ventilation improved, and bias against calendar reality by not renaming November 2 “October 33.”


Your last point is weird — as was the local League of Women VOTERS decision to oppose VOTING for BOE members. It offered some decent reasons for that, but, still, wasn’t it ironic?


A Shame About Its Name

You’ll have to ask Alanis Morissette.


What are you…oh…I get it…her 1990s song “Ironic.” Also, was Sean Spiller’s 2020 election as mayor another reason for the referendum’s result, and even for the referendum getting on the ballot at all?


2020 Vision

Probably. Montclair mayors of course have had the power to appoint BOE members, and there was lots of resentment about the Spiller campaign hugely outspending the popular, hardworking Dr. Renee Baskerville to eke out a win in last year’s contest. The chickens came home to roost, but they have nothing to fear from me — I’m vegan.


But they have something to fear from Captain Feathersword of The Wiggles. With an elected BOE a coming reality, what are your most fervent hopes for it?


Front to the Future

Obviously, I hope it will do a better job than the appointed BOE — and that it will keep Montclair’s magnet system. It’s a wonderful system for our schools, and it also enables objects to stick to refrigerator doors.


Finally, isn’t it nice that Montclair’s elected-BOE format will match the format of almost every other BOE in New Jersey?


State Status

Yes. Montclair is special, but there’s such a thing as being TOO special. For instance, if you purchase pizza at one of our town’s great pizza places, do you want the crust to be appointed? No, you want the crust to be elected.


I have no idea what you’re talking about. In other news, the four nonprofit community organizations that were in danger of losing their free space at 11 Pine Street because of an ownership change will be able to stay under a continuing arrangement with the township. Comment?


Quartet Now Set

Great to hear! Sister to Sister, Brother to Brother, Succeed2gether, and Start Out Fresh Intervention Advocates are important, needed groups. Fail2gether is less inspiring.


Fail2gether doesn’t exist anywhere except in your feeble imagination. Good news about DeCamp, too?


Fare-y Tale

Yes, starting November 1, the company added midday and weekend service after COVID last year forced DeCamp to pare back its 33 and 66 buses to the 3 and 6 buses.


Not true. Any last thoughts on the referendum results?


Sum-Up, Up, and Away

Montclair’s Board of School Estimate (BOSE) will thankfully be history, but local music lovers can keep their Bose speakers. And it’s okay to play “Ironic” loud.



Dave Astor, author, is the MontClairVoyant. His opinions about politics and local events are strictly his own and do not represent or reflect the views of Baristanet.



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  1. While many are piling on in blaming the BoSE for not approving the district’s bond request at the infamous 9/30 mtg, it should be noted the Long Term Facilities Plan presented that night was not vetted by the BoE. Now I understand why the Superintendent kept referring to it as a “living document”. Which also means that the PTA President was seeing it for the first time…like the rest of us…in offering her criticism.

    This accountability game is a hoot.

  2. Thank you for the comment, Frank!

    Whatever the BOSE did or didn’t do this fall, the issues with the condition of Montclair’s school buildings go back a ways. The BOSE could have done something, or at least pushed harder for something, well before this fall. Of course, the appointed BOE has a lot to answer for, too.

  3. Yeah, our deteriorating classroom facilities goes back, like, 8 Superintendents. Thankfully, the parents & guardians are never accountable. This is what makes the accountability game so interesting. We have to hire/appoint/elect a steady stream of new people to place blame on. I went to MHS 3x in the last 20 years. I was in a some class rooms that were just like when I was there. And some of the paint seemed to be from that era. Luckily, my parents didn’t care about facilities.

    Maybe someone should take a look at the new addition to the Magical Orange Road Parking Deck. It seems it is drooping…just a tad. If you don’t look at it from the side, you’ll not even notice. I just want to make sure the school district doesn’t hire the same firms.

  4. Well, with an elected BOE coming and Montclair residents being able to vote on school budgets, a lot of things will be up to parents and other residents. I’m optimistic that the majority will do the right thing for schools. Or, fingers crossed, at least. 🙂

  5. Dave,

    Everyone does the right thing.
    All the time.
    We just can’t always know how it serves their interests .

  6. On a more serious note, I see a bunch of stakeholder committees and task forces being formed to study/make recommendations. Is it proper for these members, and their leadership, to be appointed?

  7. Frank, every Montclair resident who’s about to watch a certain 1989 Spike Lee film will do the right thing… 🙂

    Re your 8:19 am comment, that’s a fascinating conundrum of a question. I guess as long as the elected BOE and voters have the final say.

Comments are closed.