Third Ward Councilor Sean M. Spiller announced plans to run for Montclair mayor Tuesday. Spiller sent a response Friday afternoon to Baristanet’s inquiry about how he would handle issues related to education if elected mayor and possible conflicts of interest. Spiller is currently vice president of the New Jersey Education Association.

Spiller, if elected mayor, said he would appoint a designee to serve on the Board of School Estimate (BOSE). Spiller stepped down from the BOSE in 2016, when his service was deemed a conflict of interest. Spiller announced his plan to run after Mayor Robert Jackson indicated he had decided not to run. Dr. Renee Baskerville, who currently serves as Montclair’s 4th Ward Councilor, has also also announced her plan to run for mayor of Montclair.

Below, Spiller offers his overall statement regarding education and his approach to it, if elected mayor.

I believe that public education is one of the most important services that local government provides. Public schools are a big part of the reason Lauren and I chose Montclair to raise our family.

As a parent, an educator and someone who believes in the value of public education, I have a deep interest in making sure our students get what they need.

As a Montclair homeowner and taxpayer, I have a vested interest in keeping costs as reasonable as possible.

As mayor, I will fulfill my duties and appoint independent Board of Education members who share the goal of providing the best possible education for our students at the very best value to taxpayers.

This election is about preserving what makes Montclair so special and great schools are part of that equation.

But it is also about the importance of continuing to reduce our municipal debt, about leading the way on environmental issues, about investing in our infrastructure, about preserving the character and values that make Montclair special, and yes, it’s about investing in our children’s futures.

Those are the issues that I care about. Those are the issues Montclair cares about. That’s what I’m fighting for.

32 replies on “Montclair Mayoral Candidate Sean Spiller Talks About Education, BOSE, and BOE Members”

  1. Mr. Spiller, you disappoint. I cannot figure it otherwise. You want to put your papers in for that job, but you do not want to do all that job. You say you want to be Pastor of my Church, but you will not show up for Sunday School on Saturday mornings because you got to be somewhere else. You say you care about education and schools, but that part of the job you will delegate. You got too many jobs and you cannot choose so why you think anybody is going to choose you.

    You say you are fighting. I never seen you fight for our town when those developers came rolling in with their big machines and our mayor and that lawyer fellow just laid down. I did not see you fight when three times folks in our district who did not pay taxes here had their children enrolled in our schools that took from me and my family’s food expenses. They never did pay back what they took from our children. And one is still doing it. But you sure ain’t fighting for me or my nephew in 3rd grade that gave up his teacher aide so another child could go to that private school in Bergen County. And you ain’t fighting now when they told us that they are going to stick that big ugly and sickly antenna in our backyard.

    Choose for Montclair. Fight for Montclair. Or take back your papers and act like you’re fighting somewhere else for what you pretend to care about. Nobody is saying you have to serve. But if you serve, you have to serve.

  2. The neighborhood opponents are assured of losing they way they are fighting this. The South End will get cell phone coverage.

    What I don’t understand is everywhere else, 120′ monopoles are the standard. This plan has them set much lower on a 65′ pole – and then another dozen antennae on an a nearby building (28’h?).

    I can guess the reasons for this dubious arrangement. And I suspect there will much more antennae within 10 years. The South End will have its cell tower farm just like what happened in Upper Montclair.

    I would like to see all 18 antennas on a single monopole at a minimum of 50′ from the sidewalk. This is about the only argument that is winnable and it will make a huge difference to residents.

    Science doesn’t know what it doesn’t know. And put all the ugly in one place, on one pole. A little bit of old-fashion prudence is in order.

  3. Mr Spiller’s proposed BoSE solution above is inaccurate.
    A Mayor does not get to appoint anyone to the BoSE.
    There is no such legal thing as a Mayor’s designee to the BoSE.


  4. Yes, Frank Rubacky. The statute is very clear that the Mayor must serve on the BOSE directly. It is not legal for a Mayor to designate someone else and recuse themselves in the process.

    That’s why Sean Spiller has a big legal issue here that he may not be able to get around. A court of law ruled he is conflicted from serving on that body. And that decision was never appealed.

    Mr. Spiller’s also has a problem with saying he’s been “fighting” for Board of Education issues. He and others on the Council were very late out of the gate dealing with the parent school board implosion under former Superintendent Penny McCormack. And he was also silent over the multiple minefields which this last leadership group created by bringing in that unqualified Superintendent Johnson — who ran herself out of town once those administration mismanagement chickens came home to roost.

  5. This is the statue – N.J.S.A. 18A:22-1. The Mayor does not have to serve.

    The cardinal rule of law is that there are no absolutes.

    Seriously? Dr McCormack? You’re trying to lay this on Spiller? Really? There is a very long line (hundreds) of really horrible people – still involved in the school district – that need to take responsibility before any Council member. Care to start with the PTA? (my 1st choice, hands-down) The MEA? (they’re pretty horrible) The BoE? (enough said) The “grassroots” groups? (the critical mass!)

    I’ll gladly start the list if you like.

    I’m glad you brought this up. Let’s show everyone what really sucks about Montclair. That one episode showed the dark, soulless underbelly of Montclair. If one can think of all that is wrong with President Trump, it pales in comparison to the lack of values and stupidity those years proved. Just a horrible excuse for a town! I will always be embarrassed about it.

    But, go ahead and blame Spiller. Just amazing!

  6. Yeah, it is starting to come back to me. The teachers, those saints, throwing the paras under the school bus for $…and then saying we’re educating your kids…for peanuts! Yes, and the double-dipping. Love that. And then we tried to play the race card. I didn’t see Montclair’s clergy stepping up then. No, they were absolutely silent. We tried to make it a Lloyd Rd vs Fullerton issue. We tried everything. We even got Yale & the Ivy League involved. We were just horrible, horrible people behaving badly! So, Right From Wrong, let’s be clear about who needs to go to confession.

  7. And if you really want to get into “it”: white, female superintendent; black, female superintendent. Both failed. Not interesting why they failed. Interesting only in why they were selected.

  8. Just back after a weekend away. Seems as if Mr. Spiller has mastered the art of saying a lot without actually saying anything. DeKoninck is advising him well. The main problem (among many) is that he really hasn’t done anything as Councilor. Melissa Harris above is correct. On the BoE mess – Jackson owns that. He stuck his nose in where he shouldn’t have and he encouraged disfunction and infighting by his choices. He could have led us out of the problems you describe Frank, but he was too busy coordinating the building expansion in town – the other part of his legacy. Someone last week on FB posted all the empty store fronts in Montclair, that’s Jacksonville. JB

  9. JB,

    I assume you are speaking of the downtown storefronts. I’m not seeing an unusual number. I don’t count Grabowski’s properties. There seems to be the normal number of restaurants and marginal retailers closing. I’m sure the Seymour Street project expedited a few tenant departures and a temporary drag on new ones opening. I would think if the vacancies were that high, people wouldn’t be complaining about a lack of parking. Anyway, there are 700+ parking spaces coming online within the next 3 years. 😁

  10. JB, you’re high maintenance!

    New Midtown Deck 310 spaces (210 replacement & 100 new)
    Seymour West 235 spaces
    Seymour East 210 spaces

    My understanding was that the new Midtown Deck cost to taxpayers was capped at about a $1MM. That is because a majority of the spaces are allocated to the development’s use.

    Commitment is to replace all 168 former permit spaces spread across the 3 decks. MoU was parking rates would match Crescent Deck rates.

    The various Grabowsky (sorry, I corrected spelling) vacancies have been a detriment for over a decade. Can’t blame the Council. Apples to apples, and all that. I still love his lawsuit against the proposed assisted living us…and how it would detract from downtown vibrancy.

  11. Please evaluate Spiller based on the state of the 3rd ward. He was our 3rd ward councilor, and the 3rd ward is a mess. We are going to lose the Church Street parking lot (over 100 spaces), and the million (plus) dollar Park Street project also eliminated dozens of parking spaces. Sunday is hell, with megachurch traffic, our streets are parking lots, traffic is terrible, and you can’t even say that new developments are providing the 25% affordable housing that the new law requires. I’m seeing more empty storefronts, and shopkeepers complaining about their customers getting parking tickets, or not being able to find parking. We don’t need four more years of Spiller, who cared more about the yellow brick road on Afterglow Way than he did about the fate of Montclair Center. We need more representation for our residents, not more illegal development with only 10% affordable units.

  12. Yeah, it is starting to come back to me. The teachers, those saints, throwing the paras under the school bus for $…and then saying we’re educating your kids…for peanuts!

    Please, get your historical recollections straight, Frank. The Lombard board, dominated by your hero, Penny, took the recommendation of a committee it assembled to explore ways to save money, which included outsourcing the paras and bringing into the district employees it couldn’t so much as vet to work with the neediest kids. When the union objected, the board said, fine, we won’t outsource but we’re not paying health benefits for full-time paras earning roughly $23,000. Then the board later said, oops, we actually just discovered $11 million we didn’t know we had and after continued pressure from the “pretty horrible” MEA, the benefits were mysteriously restored. The union bashing is ugly in this town–God forbid teachers should have representation in order to make enough to live in this bastion of so-called progressives, who spend most waking hours bashing Trump for destroying the EPA while riding around — Iphones in hand, ignoring folks in the crosswalks — in their giant Suburbans and Navigators.

  13. Like I said, the 2014 budget year was memorable.

    The average teacher salary was $78,600. 25% of them were making $90,000+ (half of these were over $100,000. This group was responsible for a 1/3rd of the teacher payroll.
    If we weren’t shorting Special Ed instructors salaries, the proportions would be higher.
    Oh, and I pulled the numbers from the outside auditor’s report. I’m just a tad dubious of the BoE, the Administration and the MEA and what they tell us.

    How many over $90K would be a good question to ask when this year’s budget is introduced. Just for a comparison.

  14. Frank,

    Any (not really) anonymous poster that makes up a nonexistent attack on another thread for seemingly no reason should not be trusted. Case in point, the BoE did not “find” the $11M, that was an accounting error by Dana Sullivan and poor management by Frank Alvarez who the Board then had to cover for. He then landed fine elsewhere, so don’t shed a tear.

    I have OPRA’d the new MEA contract and details, so we’ll see that info soon.

    PS – Thanks for the parking info and apologies for being high maintenance.


  15. You know I was kidding, right? I had the information on Post-It Notes on the fridge…next to Amy Klobuchar’s medical plan.

  16. In all fairness, the MEA, almost gets no special distinction in this toxic stew we call education in Montclair. Although, I will say, the almost $¼ MM they collected and said, oops, our bad, ‘can we pay you back in installments without interest’ deserved a 2014 special distinction award. Personally, just my opinion, I can’t think of a more disingenuous union management and I’ve work with a few. Of course, those unions didn’t have the advantage of saying they are doing it for children.

  17. Between JB and Mtc Public, they are getting me fired up on the topic of the MEA.


    If the opportunity presents itself, ask Mr Spiller (in person) what he thinks of the MEA…and then listen very carefully to the tone and content of his response.

  18. Frank, it’s too easy for you to use that lame “do it for the children” smear to attack teachers for having the gall to unionize and try to make a living. You’re better than that. OK, then, what do you suggest the township of Montclair pay its teachers? Should there be a ceiling on what a 20-year veteran can earn to prevent them from getting those massive cost-of-living increases that ultimately land them at 90K? Let’s begin with a starting salary — what is a fair wage to live in an area, not just Montclair, where residential costs have skyrocketed? 30 grand? 35? How little should those with masters degrees or more agree to for the privilege of being ridiculed by those who think they fully deserve every penny THEY earn for doing things we probably can all agree are less important and difficult than educating children. Go ahead, create your fantasy wage scale. Should be fun.
    As for “JB,” you are pretty good at cherrypicking a point while ignoring the greater truth. Pretty, pretty good.

  19. Once again & follow closely…. The MEA has character and integrity issues. Has had these for quite a while. I give them no quarter because of this and what they do to cohort, after cohort, after cohort. For what? Self-interest? Apathy? Discrimination? If you are a member, then you have to own this.

    PS: a veteran? really?

  20. Sorry, Frank, that is a lot of verbiage that has no specific detail or meaning. Character and Integrity — again, for what? Trying to do right by its members?
    If it makes you happy, teachers with 20 years’ experience…..
    And you didn’t answer my question….I assume because it is easier to complain about teachers’ salaries than to produce a coherent solution to the larger education funding issues that plague New Jersey. Better to blame those on the front line.

  21. The parent(s) are on the front line. I agree, the MEA is doing right by its members. Just like Boeing Company thought it was doing right by its stockholders.

  22. Militaristic mindset & vocabulary. That is one on the MEA’s more pervasive problems. Should I say through the ranks? 🙂

    How can they – and we tolerate – bringing that crap into the classroom? Maybe we can have them start infecting them earlier with a Pre-K program?

  23. And, yes, there are aspects of school district compensation that could and perhaps should be discussed/addressed — be it the type of retirement plans they receive, retirement age, etc — but when the “discussion” begins with character assassination of the people representing the teachers and resentment of those whose tenure has provided them a decent wage, that is divisive and petty. Have a nice day. It’s still early in the tax quarter.

  24. Montclair Public,

    1%, yes one percent, of Montclair’s black high school student are meeting grade level proficiency in mathematics. Of course, the achievement gap once again pervades….
    only 36% of white students are achieving grade level proficiency.

    This info was presented to the BoE at their last meeting. No one, not a person, not a reporter, not a police officer cared. Yes, I’m ready to blame the test. Blame racism. Blame the infrastructure. Blame anyone. Blame anything!

    My definition of mediocrity.

    Go MEA! Go MFEE! You’re killing it!

  25. And you have to love what the MFEE has become…an award system for outlier standards.

    It’s appropriate they are tearing down their house. It, and those owners, are from another era. It’s better their contributions just get lost in the past.

  26. The best part of those mathematics scores…the girls performed better than the boys! All that stuff about girl stereotypes and can’t do math….and the instructional bias…and they just showed up and filled in those standard test answers sheets……and let the results speak for themselves. The boys…well, they develop at a slower rate and even with their advantages, they couldn’t really be expected to do well until they reach 25 years old.

  27. And what should not be lost on black or white parents is that, clearly, many of you are not being good parents. Or do you want to blame others?

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