Curko out of 2 jobs on Hoboken board

Source: Jersey Journal

The battle of the dueling school board secretaries is over and Anthony Curko is down for the count.

Curko, a 27-year employee of the district, resigned last week from his position as school board secretary, and said he will retire from his post as business administrator after the school year.

Until he retires, Curko will continue to earn $132,297 a year - the same salary he earned when he was both business administrator and board secretary.

"I will be concentrating on the fiscal responsibilities of business administrator," Curko said at Thursday's board meeting.

On Sept. 6, board members tried to do an end-run around Curko, 57, who was out on sick leave, when former school board member David Anthony was installed as board secretary at a salary of $39,500 a year. The board also gave Anthony immediate tenure in the position; normally that takes three years.

But at the following week's meeting, Curko surprised everyone when he showed up at the meeting and sat in the board secretary's seat.

Curko, who had said he was upset that the board decided to replace him without letting him know, said Thursday that he came to the decision to step down after "a mutual discussion with board members."

School Board President Carmelo Garcia - who opposed Anthony's appointment- called the timing of the resignation "interesting."

"Two weeks ago, Mr. Curko said he isn't going anywhere and now he is putting in his papers to retire," Garcia said. "If this is what Mr. Curko wants, I understand his desires, but I hope there is a succession plan in place to alleviate taxpayers and the children."

Curko is the second high-level school board official to resign recently. At the Aug. 30 meeting, Superintendent Patrick Gagliardi said he would step down in 2007 - two years before his contract is set to expire - and receive a buyout that will cost the taxpayers about $350,000.

And the controversy doesn't end there.

Last month, a school board member filed charges against Garcia challenging two votes he cast at the Aug. 30 meeting.

According to a source at the school district, Garcia is accused of improperly voting to extend a $60,000 a year contract to FitzMedia - which is owned by Freeholder Maurice Fitzgibbons, D-Hoboken. Garcia, who is the director of the Department of Health and Human Services, also serves as chief of staff to Fitzgibbons.

Garcia contends that he works for the county, not for FitzMedia, and that he could therefore vote on the contract without a conflict of interest.

In addition, the source said Garcia is accused of improperly voting to promote his brother, Sammy Garcia, from custodian to maintenance man at a salary of $24,818; he then changed the minutes to make it appear that he abstained on the vote, the charges allege.

Garcia doesn't deny that he voted to promote his brother, but says it was an accident - the item was included on a consent agenda and he forgot to abstain from that item. The consent agenda passed, 9-to-0.

He says his later action wasn't to cover up his vote, but to legally change it to an abstention. The minutes were amended at the Sept. 13 to read that the vote was 8 to 0 with one abstention.

He called the charges "a frivolous political tactic to attempt to silence me or defame my character."

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