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Baseball: Big North Conference division all-stars, 2023

The following are the Big North Conference all-star selections for the 2023 high school baseball season as selected by league coaches.Editor’s note: The NJ Advance Media baseball staff was not involved with the selection process.American DivisionFirst TeamSecond TeamHonorable MentionFreedom DivisionFirst TeamSecond TeamHonorable MentionIndependence DivisionFirst ...

The following are the Big North Conference all-star selections for the 2023 high school baseball season as selected by league coaches.

Editor’s note: The NJ Advance Media baseball staff was not involved with the selection process.

American Division

First Team

Second Team

Honorable Mention

Freedom Division

First Team

Second Team

Honorable Mention

Independence Division

First Team

Second Team

Honorable Mention

Liberty Division

First Team

Second Team

Honorable Mention

National Division

First Team

Second Team

Honorable Mention

Patriot Division

First Team

Second Team

Honorable Mention

United Division

First Team

Second Team

Honorable Mention

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Superintendent treated me like a child, then fired me for inexperience, N.J. school official says

A former business administrator for Ridgefield Public Schools has filed a lawsuit against the district alleging she was discriminated against for being younger than her colleagues and fired when she raised questions about grant funding.Altea Qirjako, 36, alleges then-Ridgefield Interim Superintendent Letizia Pantoliano treated her like a child, called her inexperienced and questioned her work on obtaining grants for the district, according to the suit filed Feb. 8 in Superior Court of Bergen County.Pantoliano’s contract e...

A former business administrator for Ridgefield Public Schools has filed a lawsuit against the district alleging she was discriminated against for being younger than her colleagues and fired when she raised questions about grant funding.

Altea Qirjako, 36, alleges then-Ridgefield Interim Superintendent Letizia Pantoliano treated her like a child, called her inexperienced and questioned her work on obtaining grants for the district, according to the suit filed Feb. 8 in Superior Court of Bergen County.

Pantoliano’s contract expired on Feb. 16, 2023, and she requested a second waiver from the board of education to stay in the district for a third year, even though state law allows for an interim superintendent to stay for only two years, according to the suit.

“(Pantoliano) clearly hired plaintiff on purpose to be used as a target for her beneficial agenda and used her age and gender as a factor for the board not to take plaintiff seriously so she could extend her contract,” the lawsuit alleges.

The suit states a board of education member told Qirjako the district needed to extend Pantoliano’s contract because Qirjako was too inexperienced.

“No offense to you, but Dr. Pantoliano advised the board that she is helping the business administrator with the budget and that you are inexperienced,” the board member said, according to the lawsuit. “We need Dr. Pantoliano to stay with the district longer.”

The lawsuit names the Ridgefield Board of Education and Pantoliano as defendants.

Current Ridgefield Superintendent Alexander Anemone said Tuesday the district does not comment on pending litigation.

Pantoliano, who is now president of the Cliffside Park Board of Education, did not immediately return a call seeking comment.

The lawsuit alleges Pantoliano excluded Qirjako from important meetings with the grant coordinator and advised the assistant business administrator to reallocate funds, which caused “illicit double dipping in the grants,” according to the suit.

In May 2023, Qirjako informed Pantoliano that auditors contracted to go over the budget discovered grant issues. The suit says Pantoliano allegedly “became infuriated” with Qirjako and hung up the phone on her.

Since Pantoliano wouldn’t speak with her, Qirjako felt she had no choice but to contact the board of education president to let him know of her concerns about the budget, the suit says.

“From that point on, plaintiff was in a no-win situation with the superintendent,” the suit alleges.

Qirjako, who said she never received verbal or written warnings about her job, was terminated in a letter from Pantoliano on June 1, 2023.

“Your unprofessionalism, insubordination and inability to perform the basic duties of a school business administrator without utilizing a consultant or other staff members indicates that you are not qualified to serve in this position,” the letter states.

In a response letter, Qirjako defended her decision to use a consultant to work on the budget.

“As you were aware when you hired me, this is my first time in the role of business administrator, and you suggested that we bring someone on to support me with the uploading of the budget,” Qirjako stated in the letter.

Qirjako alleges violations of New Jersey Law Against Discrimination, a hostile work environment, retaliation, emotional distress and “tortious interference” with Qirjako’s ability to earn a living.

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N.J. school district fired me after I complained about state monitor, worker says

A former bussing coordinator with the Ridgefield Park Board of Education in Bergen County has filed a lawsuit claiming he was fired after complaining that a state monitor was wasting taxpayer money.Robert Kilmurray, 52, states in court papers the monitor was hired in 2015 to provide insight into business operations and personnel matters after the district overspent its budget.But when the monitor allegedly began harassing an administrator in 2022, Kilmurray complained about the monitor to an official in New Jersey government, a...

A former bussing coordinator with the Ridgefield Park Board of Education in Bergen County has filed a lawsuit claiming he was fired after complaining that a state monitor was wasting taxpayer money.

Robert Kilmurray, 52, states in court papers the monitor was hired in 2015 to provide insight into business operations and personnel matters after the district overspent its budget.

But when the monitor allegedly began harassing an administrator in 2022, Kilmurray complained about the monitor to an official in New Jersey government, according to the suit filed Aug. 29 in Superior Court of Bergen County.

The complaint allegedly led to Kilmurray’s termination, which the suit calls a violation of the state’s Conscientious Employee Protection Act. Kilmurray had worked for the district since 2008.

District officials did not immediately respond Monday to a request for comment.

Before he was fired, Kilmurray had received only positive feedback from the state monitor, according to the suit.

The lawsuit alleges the monitor personally disliked a district administrator and wasted district resources, along with taxpayer money, to harass the person, the suit states.

A school ethics disclosure form submitted to the state in 2020 shows that Kilmurray’s brother is an administrator in the district, but Kilmurray’s attorney declined to identify the administrator.

In July 2022, Kilmurray reported the “violation of law and/or public policy to a government official,” the suit states. The state monitor learned of Kilmurray’s complaint, and “took action that led to plaintiff’s termination of employment,” the lawsuit alleges.

In addition to whistleblower laws, the lawsuit alleges Kilmurray’s firing was a wrongful discharge, claiming the “district had no legitimate non-retaliatory reason for its termination of plaintiff.”

The suit seeks to reinstate Kilmurray to his job, along with his seniority, benefits and lost wages.

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NJ Transit bought 53 acres in North Jersey for a huge bus garage. Where do things stand?

3-minute readNorthJersey.comIt’s been three years since NJ Transit began buying up parcels in Ridgefield Park to build a new sprawling bus depot and related facilities.Last year, the agency added another 17 acres to its footprint in the village, bringing the total to more than 53 acres on the site next to Route 46 and the New Jersey Turnpike, where the behemoth bus garage, equipped to handle 500 buses, will go.“The Northern Bus Garage, one of NJ Transit’s largest proposed infrast...

3-minute read

NorthJersey.com

It’s been three years since NJ Transit began buying up parcels in Ridgefield Park to build a new sprawling bus depot and related facilities.

Last year, the agency added another 17 acres to its footprint in the village, bringing the total to more than 53 acres on the site next to Route 46 and the New Jersey Turnpike, where the behemoth bus garage, equipped to handle 500 buses, will go.

“The Northern Bus Garage, one of NJ Transit’s largest proposed infrastructure projects, is currently advancing to 30% design,” Warren Berry, director of zero-emissions systems planning at NJ Transit, said during an update about the facility at the November sustainability committee meeting for board members.

The agency “secured the location for the facility and reached out to various utilities and stakeholders to discuss electricity needs, transportation access and other important considerations,” Berry said.

With the property in place, the agency is also moving along in the planning phase for the new facility, which was approved to proceed to 30% design in October 2021 after Gannett Fleming was awarded a $12.5 million contract, with money coming from the state Transportation Trust Fund and Federal Transit Administration.

“The project has achieved 10% concept design and is under review. Review of the 10% design and its continued advancement is part of the path to 30% design,” said NJ Transit spokesman Jim Smith.

Project faced controversy

The project first faced controversy in 2020 when the agency sought to buy the property, which is some of the remaining unused acres that the village has spent more than two decades trying to develop, without success.

Village officials took NJ Transit to court over the matter, but they lost. With NJ Transit’s purchase, some $1 million came off the village’s tax rolls.

More:NJ Transit electric bus project zips along. But huge hurdles remain for statewide expansion

As part of getting to 30% design, NJ Transit officials will also be coming up with a funding strategy for the new bus campus, which could include applying for federal grants, a design-build strategy and possibly a public-private partnership.

It’s estimated to cost around $536 million to construct the new garage, according to the most up-to-date capital plan documents.

2,200 buses for 253 routes

Once completed, this garage would be a crown-jewel addition to the agency’s suite of 16 bus garages throughout the state, which range in age from 20 to 120 and currently house some 2,200 buses that operate on 253 routes.

This year, NJ Transit buses served on average nearly 11 million people a month and have been the quickest mode within the agency’s system to rebound from the COVID-19 pandemic.

All but one of the agency’s 16 garages is over capacity, with both Market Street in Paterson and Big Tree in Nutley over capacity by more than 50%, forcing the agency to park some buses in adjacent outside lots.

More:NJ Transit buys 750 diesel buses for $685M. Is the future all-electric?

The Northern Bus Garage will allow the agency to expand bus operations, provide space to house buses while other garages are undergoing renovation, and advance the agency’s zero-emissions goals.

“They literally fold the mirrors in every night just to be able to fit the buses we have, and we can’t fit the 60-foot buses we need because the 40-foot buses are overflowing,” Richard Schaefer, NJ Transit’s senior vice president of capital programs, said at a recent transportation speaker event in September.

The agency is also in the process of designing a new garage in Union City, and in April it bought a 4-acre bus garage property owned by Coach USA-affiliated Rockland Coaches in Westwood.

The facility in design for the Northern Bus Garage would be about 1.8 million square feet, with about 1 million used for bus storage of 500 45-foot and 60-foot buses that are both diesel and zero-emission electric.

It will also include charging equipment for zero-emissions buses, fueling and maintenance areas, washing and inspection bays, and staff offices. Around 800,000 square feet would be for staff and visitor parking, snow removal vehicle storage, landscaping and drainage.

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