School board pres. still wants answers on MEMS

ENGLISHTOWN – Anthony Man-isero, the president of the Manalapan-Englishtown Regional School District Board of Education, told the News Tran-script he intends to follow through on having an investigation into the events that led to this fall’s delayed opening of the Manalapan-Englishtown Middle School (MEMS).

MEMS, which was undergoing renovations and the construction of an addition, did not open as scheduled on Sept. 11 because construction code deficiencies were found at the time final inspections were conducted on the work done at the school and municipal officials would not issue a temporary certificate of occupancy.

The school had initially failed 102 of 283 inspections, according to officials.

During the inspection process, municipal employees also found that some wiring for computers had been installed in the existing MEMS building at a point before the present construction project began and that the work had been done without a permit. Therefore, municipal inspectors had not been aware the work had been done.

Manisero said he has contacted state Assemblyman Mike Panter (D-Monmouth and Mercer) and state Sen. Ellen Karcher (D-Monmouth and Mercer) in order to ask them to authorize an independent investigation of the MEMS situation.

Dan Riley, Panter’s chief of staff, told the News Transcript on Nov. 17 that Panter reached out to the state attorney general’s office in September regarding a possible investigation into the MEMS situation. Riley said Panter has not heard back from the attorney general’s office and will follow up on the matter.

He said Panter will meet with municipal and school officials to try to determine if any money that was spent on overtime work in order to get MEMS ready to open as quickly as possible can be recovered.

Karcher said on Nov. 17 that she will review the request for an investigation into the MEMS issue and take the steps she believes are appropriate at that time.

Manisero said if the state representatives do not investigate what happened, the board will form a subcommittee to find out what caused the delay and why they were not informed of the problems at MEMS until a week before the scheduled start of the school year.

Manisero said the board will convene an informal meeting of the principals in the matter, including the project architect and general contractor.

MEMS educates 1,400 seventh- and eighth-graders. For nine days in Septem-ber those students were split up and attended classes in the district’s elementary schools before being allowed to enter MEMS on Sept. 25.

Manisero has said Superintendent of Schools Maureen Lally was in charge of the construction project and should have been aware of any problems at the building, and should have reported them to the board as a whole on a more timely basis.

Lally has said that she was not aware of any inspection problems at MEMS until Sept. 6.

– Kathy Baratta