In the middle of January, I received a phone call from Brian Wilkinson which is not unusual because we are friends and talk often, usually about football, politics or movies.

However, he was not calling me about any of those but rather wanted me to consider doing a Hometown View segment on an upcoming referendum facing voters in the Pinelands Regional School District.  Wilkinson is a teacher in the high school and also the Wildcats head football coach and he was asking that I consider supporting the project which is said was badly needed.

I told him at that time I really knew nothing about it but he walked me through the basics and then emailed me pages of documents explaining the referendum and why it was so important to the school district.  For whatever its worth I did endorse the referendum which on January 24th was approved by district voters.

Brian Wilkinson’s loyalty to Pinelands was not rewarded as he is among a handful of non-tenured history teachers who will not be returning in the fall due to budget cuts. Any teacher losing their job for any reason but being a bad teacher is disappointing but I feel that my friend’s situation is a bit different.

Brian left a tenured position in the Toms River School District to take the job at Pinelands which was in desperate need of someone who could turn around the fortunes of their football program which had gone without a win in the two seasons before he arrived in Tuckerton.

Well, he did just that and last fall the Wildcats won four games and just missed the playoffs and with a host of players returning this season looked like it could be something special.  If it is then a new coach will get the rewards of the hard work put in by Wilkinson and his staff.

The superintendent who brought him in is gone and it was an interim superintendent who recommended he be among those not to be rehired even though there was clear support from players and parents. However, I guess to some it’s just a numbers game and he got caught up in the numbers so I’ll leave you with one: 4.

Brian is the married father of 4 young children who despite doing his job well now has to find a new one.

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