Committee Reports at the Board of Ed Meeting
Several committees provided reports
The Board of Education held a work session meeting on Thursday night, which amounted to essentially updates on committee activities over the past several months.
Below are several updates from Thursday night’s meeting:
Curriculum Committee Report
Presented by Ms. Julie Glazer, Assistant Superintendent
We started in June with curriculum workshops for all the staff who signed up to work on curriculum projects. We re-created a standardized template. We have already been asked by our brother and sister districts around the county and state to share our curriculum and template. We had more than 102 faculty members completing 52 curriculum projects this summer - that’s almost double the number of projects we completed in 2009. Thirty nine of those projects were revisions to existing curriculum that might have been required by our curriculum cycle such as in areas of music where the curriculum has not been updated in a long time, or, it might have been required or mandated as part of the implementation of the New Jersey standards as well as the common core standards that are coming out in language arts and math nationally.
Building and Grounds Committee Report
Presented by Louis J. Pepe, Business Administrator
We had a total about 65 projects over the summer. We looked at each school based on district wide priorities and completed projects at every school in the district. The lead abatement project was fantastic because it was really necessary. There was a sidewalk put in over at the Jefferson primary center. At the middle school we had the gymnasium painted and we also installed more lockers for students. At the middle school we renovated the showers so that we can accommodate new lockers.
HR and Hiring
Presented by Dr. Kenneth Shulack, director of human resources
Our list of 50 new staff members is a result of thousands of applications, hundreds of interviews. It was difficult and challenging to hire for positions such as behaviorists and for Latin and computer science teachers. Few graduates with computer science degrees go into teaching. We found quality candidates and all of those areas even for Mandarin Chinese.
We also made progress in terms of diversification of our staff to more accurately reflect our student population. Now approximately 19% newly hired, certified staff members are African American, Asian or Hispanic, representing a more global approach for students. We spent a week at our Welcome Aboard Teacher Training (WATT) program, for all new teachers.
Presented by Gloria Ron-Fornes
The committee talked about having a big idea that we can rally our energies around. The big idea that we had was college placement and college outreach.
The formative assessment program we currently have is called Learnia. Julie brought forward a proposal to replace the existing formative assessment program, which we had been getting for free but would cost money going into this current year. The proposal involves software and it is licensed to the Hunterdon County Educational Services Commission. By joining the consortium we get a much lower cost on the software but there is an annual fee.
The program offers the ability to have a mini lesson library for teachers, and development dates for both teachers and principals, and the fact that were going to have all the supplemental data and a dashboard per student. This gives us the ability to understand, more fully, the gaps and challenges that a student has. The price difference is quite significant. Learnia would cost us about $18,000 and the second program would cost about $2,500 to $6,500 so the committee choice was a no-brainer.
Presented by Ed Mokuvos
We talked about the financial implications of the new anti-bullying policy. To date we’ve had a little over $10,000 in expenditure on training. We think that the impact will be non-financial (aside from that). The impact will be that existing staff will have to devote more time to anti-bullying as opposed to other activities that they might be spending their time on so there won’t be an incremental cost. That would depend on how many incidents there are. At least right now we are not seeing a huge financial impact.
We talked about the potential for a full-day kindergarten. This is a pilot program. We want to see the benefits of having a full-day kindergarten. The pilot is fee-based.
We discussed the solar project. We have a second meeting with winning bidders for this initial project. We had heard a lot about how SRECS, which is one of the elements that make this attractive, have gone down in price. We’re looking at a November completion.
The “initial project” is a feasibility study of the condition of the school buildings’ roofs to determine if they are suitable for installation of solar panels. The cost of this study is being funded by both the board of education and the city.
Presented by George Lucaci, vice president
(There is a new state mandated policy on concussions). Regarding sports and concussions we have an excellent way that we educate teams. I think we should take the lead and make a program to educate the students they can self diagnose. Often times students hide their injuries because they want to stay in the game. I think it’s important that we add that to our policy. On the healthy workplace environment policy, it’s a new policy, and that is for the teaching staff to have a policy that creates an ongoing healthy environment for teachers.
Presented by Celia Colbert
Last week we came up with the idea of the Board of Education intern. It might be possible to find a very high-performing high school student who was looking for independent study or local grad student who could keep track of policy and keep up on our peer districts. Dr. Parker had some reservations about this.
This connects to another topic, which was what can we do to keep the community stay informed about legislative initiatives or education policies. We had to acknowledge that we don’t have the capacity to do that.
Survey results - there is an ongoing survey (that will be accessible on the district website until September 16) that anyone in the community is free to take (regarding the all-day kindergarden pilot). Much of the concern has to do with the amount of the tuition -- why it would be $7,450. (It is not yet determined that the tuition would be that amount. A range of $7450 to $9000 is being considered for tuition. Half-day kindergarten would still be available for all eligible students at no cost. The pilot proposal is for a tuition-based ½ day program for a limited number of students. More information on the proposal can be found on the district's Web site.) From a communication standpoint, if we go forward with this, we will need to help the community understand why that number is being proposed.