The following newspaper article appeared in the December 22, 2014 edition of The Record. The story talks about State Monitor Thomas Egan having completed his work of fixing the Elmwood Park school district’s budget, and getting things back on track. Not surprisingly given what we’ve already seen of his work in Belleville, he evidently did a very good job there.
For those of you who don’t already know, Thomas Egan is also the state monitor who was assigned to the Belleville school district back in May, after our joint effort with local residents exposed what would eventually be tabulated at a staggering 4.8 million dollar budget deficit by the Board of Education. The Board had been hiding the deficit for quite some time, causing a significant cashflow problem. These financial issues began to spiral out of control faster after a bewildering hiring spree lead to the district inexplicably taking on more than 150 new employees in less than two years.
To make matters worse, the Board secured a questionable 2 million dollar contract, by proprietary bid with a company run by a convicted felon, for nearly 900 surveillance cameras to be installed in the district. Mind you, this baffling and outrageous level of spending was all happening while students were literally sharing outdated textbooks in the schools, simply because there wasn’t enough teaching and learning resources allocated where it matters most.
Since the state monitor arrived in Belleville, the superintendent’s employment with the district was ended, all contracts with Clarity Technologies were terminated, and various other very noticeable and highly welcome changes have been taking place in just the last several months.
Here is a copy of the article from The Record. There doesn’t seem to be an online version, so in case it is difficult to read this on whatever device you happen to be using, I will also transcribe the text below the scanned image:
District thanks departing monitor
Katherine Milsop, Staff Writer
ELMWOOD PARK – After overseeing finances in the school system for the past two years, state monitor Thomas Egan will leave the district this month.
Egan was appointed in January 2013 by Christopher Cerf, the education commissioner at the time, to oversee fiscal management and expenditures in the school district following the announcement of a $2.2 million deficit. He was responsible for business activities, including preparing a monthly financial report, approving all purchases, overseeing payments and improving the operations of the business office.
Egan’s two year contract expires in January. At the time of the appointment, Cerf said Egan would be compensated at $93 per hour on a full-time basis, a salary that is fixed by the commissioner. By state law, the school district assumes the total cost of the state monitor.
The district received an advance of $2.2 million in state aid in April 2013.
At Egan’s final school board meeting last Tuesday, several board members thanked him for his work to alleviate the deficit and “get the district back on track”.
Trustee Kathleen Policano said Egan was “another set of eyes” for the schools and credited him with pushing for hallway locker refurbishments, auditorium renovation and the high school gym floor project.
“I came amidst a controversy,” Egan said. “I think the district is in a better place.”
He also thanked the board for its cooperation and respect.