Atlantic City superintendent says leaving boathouse was Stockton’s choice | Local News

ATLANTIC CITY — The University of Stockton has decided that its crew team will vacate the school district’s boathouse in February rather than wait for a new contract to go through the school board in March, Superintendent La ‘Quetta Small.

“Stockton was never kicked out of the boathouse,” Small said, disputing otherwise in recent media. “We never had a conversation about Stockton not continuing (at the Atlantic City boathouse).”

Small became superintendent on January 1.

But Stockton spokeswoman Diane D’Amico said Tuesday the situation was more complicated than that.

“At the end of December, we were formally advised by the former superintendent that (the district) would not be renewing the boathouse agreement and that we would have to seek an alternate location,” D’Amico wrote in an email response. email to questions.

In January, Stockton’s senior vice president for facilities and operations, Don Hudson, contacted Superintendent Small to discuss the possibility of extending the contract for the spring 2022 rowing season, D’Amico said, and Stockton was also willing to discuss another long-term contract. OK.

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“While the superintendent was ok with the spring extension, we were advised in mid-February that Stockton would not be able to use the boathouse until the extension was approved by the Board of Education, which could be its next meeting on March 22 at the earliest. “, D’Amico said. “It was far too late for our rowing teams, especially since Stockton had scheduled a regatta for April 2-3.

So the decision was made to move to Brigantine, D’Amico said, calling it “a decision based on what was best for our student athletes and coaches.”

School board member John Devlin said the board was asked by text message on February 16 whether to allow Stockton’s crew program to remain in the building while a new contract is finalized. That vote apparently went against Stockton, as the university was told she had to leave until the contract was final.

Small said she had discussions in late January with Hudson about the team continuing to use the boathouse.

On Feb. 7, Small said he met with Hudson via Zoom to discuss the plan to stay.

“The plan was to bring it (the new deal) to the board in March,” Small said.

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But later that month, Small said Hudson told him waiting until March for clarity wouldn’t meet Stockton’s needs.

“He informed me that Stockton would be moving its operations to another location,” Small said.

State Senator Vince Polistina and others criticized the city’s school district for not allowing Stockton’s crew team to remain based at the city’s boathouse. Polistina introduced a bill requiring state takeover of the city’s schools due to the district’s failure to continue Stockton’s partnership and due to difficulty in obtaining information about what had happened to the partnership.

Atlantic City School Board Chairman Shay Steele said the city’s newly expanded recreation program required increased use of the boathouse and former superintendent Barry Caldwell reported unresolved issues with the use of the facility by Stockton. But Steele could not specify what those issues were, and Caldwell could not be reached for comment.

“When it comes to recreation and other programs, everyone knows that’s a priority in my administration,” Mayor Marty Small Sr., La’Quetta’s husband, said Tuesday. “We will take advantage of all the facilities available, both indoors and outdoors. This may include the boathouse.

Mayor Small blamed Conservative WPG Talk Radio host Harry Hurley for stoking the boathouse controversy. In reports this month and last, Hurley blamed the school board for the failed boathouse deal, calling it “shameful.”

“This is driven by a morning talk show host, Harry Hurley, who is irrelevant and has no influence on this community, and a disgruntled board member,” the mayor said of Devlin, with whom he often disagrees.

The mayor also called Polistina “misinformed”.

Polistina had also criticized Atlantic City for having much higher education costs per student than other districts.

“You can’t compare Atlantic City High School to St. Augustine, where its kids go,” Mayor Small said. “There’s no education in this area better than an Atlantic City high school education, and there are issues that some districts don’t have to deal with; these are urban problems.

Mayor Small called the idea of ​​a state takeover of schools in Atlantic City a “joke.”

“He can post all the bills he wants, he and I know that bill has no chance of getting out of committee or even being entertained,” the mayor said.

Mayor Small criticized Polistina for voting against a bill in the Senate from the state government, betting, tourism and historic preservation committee last week that would give the city 1.25% of the revenue from sports betting, rather than allowing them to continue to go to the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority to market the city.

Polistina told a meeting of Atlantic County commissioners on Tuesday that his opposition to sports betting money going to the city and his attempt to get the state to take over schools in Atlantic City were motivated by a sense of urgency about preparing the station for the future.

“Gambling in New York is on the horizon,” Polistina said, and will be a reality in about four years, bringing with it more pressure for Meadowlands casinos in North Jersey. “This is kind of our last chance.”

He said the impact of competition from Pennsylvania has hit casinos in Atlantic City hard, as has competition from New York.

“The city is going to be in a precarious situation,” Polistina said. “I don’t think now is the time to embezzle CRDA money (to market the city).”

The bill came out of committee and still has to pass other committees and the full legislature to become law.

JOURNALIST: Michelle Brunetti