BOE Reports & Notes

  • BOE President's Report May 11, 2016

    Posted by Lee Bruzaitis at 5/11/2016 7:00:00 PM

    State/Federal Issues

    We continue to monitor education related bills that may affect Manchester. There are proposals in both the NJ Senate and Assembly that call for new funding to help expand preschool programs around the state.  These bills could ultimately have an impact on Manchester.  There are also bills moving through the NJ legislature to address the recent water crisis related to lead that have arisen in Newark and other cities and communities around the state.  The Governor has recently come out in favor of appropriating $10 million dollars to facilitate the testing for lead in all of our schools. Our Federal Senators announced recently that they are seeking to add provisions to the reauthorization of the Federal Clean Drinking Water Act that would address lead issues in our schools.  Both of these bills would provide funding for mandatory testing and the federal law would include funds for remediation of lead in the drinking water in our schools. For the public’s information, Manchester has not waited for the passage of these bills.  Even though we did not believe we had a problem, we recently went ahead and had the water tested in all of schools.  The results confirmed that we do not have a lead problem with the water in our schools.

    The State Board of Education is in the process of considering significant changes to NJ’s High School Graduation Requirements.  The major proposed change relates to the required use of the PARCC test as a graduation requirement for all students beginning in 2021.  Separate from federal law, it should be noted that NJ has had a law in place since the nineteen eighties (1982) that requires the passing of a standardized state-wide test in order to earn a NJ High School Diploma.  The state law does not specify which test is to be used, that decision is left up to the NJ State Board of Education.  Previously, the High School Proficiency Assessment (HSPA) was the test being used for this purpose.

    The NJ DOE is also in the process of developing state regulations in support of the recently passed federal law entitled, “Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).”  This is the law that replaced “No Child Left Behind.” This new federal law will bring about some programmatic changes including revised and new requirements that will affect all NJ schools who receive Title I federal funding.  In addition, it should be noted that the new federal law continues to require the annual testing of all students in schools and states that receive federal Title I funding.

    Activities in Our Schools

    I attended the State PTA Arts Show and Awards Ceremony in Princeton on 4/16 as a guest of the State PTA Officers.  Members of the Manchester Township PTA were also in attendance at the conference and awards ceremony.  Students from around the state were recognized for their accomplishments in the areas of art, music, dance, poetry and the visual arts.

    I also attended the Heroin Epidemic Informational Program at our High School on 4/27, which was conducted by the Manchester Township Police Department and included some representatives of private treatment program providers.  The presenters talked about the statistical realities of the heroin arrests and deaths that have occurred here in Manchester in recent years, the properties of the drug and the usual progression of its use, the educational programs in place and/or being developed to combat the use of the drug, and the treatment options currently available for families and community members.

    On 5/9, I participated along with Mrs. Walter in a meeting of the district’s Strategic Planning Committee. The purpose of the meeting was to update the committee members on the current status of our strategic plan’s accomplishments this past year and discuss possible revisions needed to the plan going forward.

    NJSBA

    Since our last meeting, I have attended and spoke at County School Board Association Meetings in Ocean, Atlantic and Cape May counties.  These meetings, which were extremely well attended, focused on government relations issues, student recognition programs, transgender legal issues, member service and training recognition awards, and data security considerations and concerns for local school districts.

    On 5/6, I made a trip to the Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, MD.  During the day, we toured the facility, observed scientific experiments in progress, met with various engineers and scientists to talk about the work they do and NASA’s staffing needs in the fields of math, science, design and engineering.  We also talked about the resources that NASA can provide to our schools with respect to STEAM education.  I also had the opportunity to briefly watch the assembly in progress of the new James Webb space satellite telescope, which will replace the venerable, but aging (+20 year old), Hubble space satellite telescope in 2018.        

    Next Meeting
    The next regular meeting of the Manchester Township Board of Education is scheduled to take place on June 22, 2016 at 7:30 PM at the Ridgeway Elementary School.

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  • BOE President's Report April 20, 2016

    Posted by Donald Webster, Jr. at 4/21/2016

    State/Federal Issues

    We continue to monitor education related bills that may affect Manchester. There are proposals in both the NJ Senate and Assembly that call for new funding to help expand preschool programs around the state.  These bills could affect Manchester.  There are also bills moving through the NJ legislature to address the recent lead in the water issues that have arisen in Newark and other cities and communities around the state.  Our federal Senators are also looking to add provisions to the Federal Clean Water Drinking Act that would address lead issues in our schools.  Both of these bills would provide funding for mandatory testing and remediation of lead in drinking water in all of our schools.  The NJ DOE is in the process of developing state regulations in support of the Federal ESSA Act that replaced No Child Left Behind. This new Federal law will bring about some revised and new mandates that will affect all NJ schools.

    Activities in Our Schools

    I attended the State PTA Arts Show and Awards Ceremony in Princeton on 4/16 as a guest of the State PTA.  Members of the Manchester Township PTA were also in attendance at the conference and awards ceremony.  At the awards program students from around the state were recognized for their talents in art, music, dance, poetry and the video arts.    I also got to attend some early spring High School sports games (baseball & softball).  Our student-athletes performed well and exhibited good sportsmanship.  On Saturday 4/16, my wife and I attended the annual High School musical production “Thoroughly Modern Millie.”  The students gave a well-rehearsed and stirring performance that we both really appreciated and enjoyed.

    NJSBA

    Over the past month, I attended and spoke at County School Board Association Meetings in Passaic, Bergen, Atlantic and Cape May counties.  These meetings, which were extremely well attended, focused on government relations issues, student recognition programs, transgender policies, and data security considerations for school districts.  I also attended and served as a State Delegate to the NSBA Delegate Assembly and Convention in Boston, MA on 4/8-4/11.  At the Delegate Assembly, former NJSBA State President, Mr. Kevin Ciak of the Sayreville Board of Education in Middlesex County, was elected to the position of President-Elect of NSBA.  Kevin will assume the Presidency of the National Schools Boards Association in Denver in March of 2017.  He will be the first local school board member from NJ in 50 years to the lead the national association.  This is a tremendous honor for both Kevin and NJ.

    Sustainable Jersey for Schools

    I participated in a Sustainable Jersey for Schools Certification Standards Meeting on 3/22 at The College of NJ.  A very thorough overview and update on the status of the program was provided by staff. We discussed upcoming meetings and sponsored events that are being planned for the remainder of the current fiscal year.  We reviewed and discussed a proposed action item related to School Culture and Climate that is being considered as an addition to the program’s list of eligible action items for schools to complete in order to earn points towards their certification. We also talked about upcoming grant opportunities for the members.  I also attended the Sustainable Jersey Trustees Governing Body Meeting in Woodbridge, NJ on 3/24.  Again, a state-wide program overview was provided, a new Trustee member was approved along with a new contract agreement with NJSBA, and we discussed potential new grant funding opportunities and upcoming events.                 

    Next Meeting

    The next regular meeting of the Manchester Township Board of Education is scheduled to take place on May 11, 2016 at 6:30 PM at the Ridgeway Elementary School.

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  • BOE President's Report March 16, 2016

    Posted by Lee Bruzaitis at 3/16/2016 8:00:00 PM

    State/Federal Issues

    We continue to monitor education related bills that may affect Manchester. The Assembly Education Committee met for the first time in the new legislative cycle on 3/1 in order to discuss a number of school security related bills.  The bills included items related to electronic warning devices for schools, video linkages to local law enforcement agencies, panic buttons and further refinement of collaboration requirements between schools and emergency responders.  At the federal level, the process of developing the regulations to support the recently passed “Every Student Succeeds Act” (ESSA) that replaced the “No Child Left Behind Act” has begun in earnest.  We will continue to monitor this process in order to insure that the regulations mirror Congressional intent of the new law.

    Activities in Our Schools

    I, along with Mr. Christopher Nolan, attended an assembly at MTES on 2/25 featuring Major General Frederick Martin, Commander of Expeditionary Forces for the Joint Base.  He spoke with the entire student body about being honest, helpful, and patriotic.  He also said students should think big and work hard so that they can accomplish great things.  He met separately with a number of the student classes throughout the morning.  He answered individual questions from the students and encouraged them to be good students and citizens. 

    NJSBA

    Over the past month, I attended and spoke at County School Board Association Meetings in Ocean and Monmouth counties.  These meetings, which were all very well attended, focused on student recognition and collaboration issues.

    On 3/10-3/12/16, Mary Walter and I attended and participated in the New Board Member Weekend Orientation Program held in Princeton, NJ. Eighty new school board members from around the state attended the program.  I spoke at the opening and closing sessions and participated in both large and small group sessions during the weekend. I was also able to meet with many of the new members, answer their questions, and provide them with information about the association and the services we offer.  Mrs. Walter served as a Group Leader for the training of the new members during the small group breakout sessions.

    I traveled to Alexandria, VA (near Washington, DC) and the Headquarters of the National School Boards Association (NSBA) to serve as part of the National Nominating Committee on 2/20-2/21.  At this meeting we interviewed candidates for the NSBA National Officer Positions of President Elect and Secretary-Treasurer.  I am pleased to report that New Jersey’s own, Mr. Kevin Ciak of the Sayreville BOE in Middlesex County was recommended by the committee for the position of President Elect.  He will be on the ballot for the Delegate Assembly’s approval in April at the National Convention in Boston.  Mr. Frank Pugh of California was recommended for the Secretary-Treasurer position.

    Sustainable Jersey for Schools

    I participated in a Sustainable Jersey for Schools Leadership and Capacity Building Task Force Meeting on 2/23/16.   A very thorough overview and update on the status of the program was provided by staff. We discussed upcoming meetings and sponsored events that are being planned for the remainder of the current fiscal year.  We reviewed and discussed a proposed action item related to School Culture and Climate that is being considered as an addition to the program’s list of eligible action items for schools to complete in order to earn points towards their certification. 

    Next Meeting

    The next regular meeting of the Manchester Township Board of Education is scheduled to take place on April 20, 2016 at 7:30 PM at the Ridgeway Elementary School.

    Comments (-1)
  • BOE President's Report February 17, 2016

    Posted by Donald Webster, Jr. at 2/18/2016

    State/Federal Issues

    We continue to monitor education related bills that may affect Manchester. A few bills that were passed by the Legislature during the “lame duck” session were signed into law by the Governor.  They included a bill that calls for sensors to be installed on all new school buses to determine if someone is walking in front of or behind a school bus while stopped for loading or unloading, a bill to create an Ombudsman to represent Special Education Students and their parents at the state level during disagreements related to IEP’s, and a bill mandating certain minimum polling hours for school elections held in April.

    A bill (A2572) has been introduced in the Assembly that would seek to fulfill the requirements of the 2008 School Funding Reform Act (SFRA) law that required access to full-day preschool for all three and four-year old children residing in school districts having large numbers of low income students.  Manchester would be included under the provisions of this proposed law.  The requirements of the original law were never implemented due to state funding problems. Finally, a bill has been passed in the NJ Senate that would create a new classification of Law Enforcement Officers (Special Class 3) who would serve as school security personnel.  These individuals would be retired former police officers under the age of 65 who would serve without benefits at a lower cost than active duty personnel.  This proposal came out of an NJSBA School Security Task Force Report recommendation.  Finally, my scheduled trip to the NSBA Advocacy Institute in Washington, DC to meet with members of the NJ Congressional Delegation in order to discuss federal education issues was postponed due to the recent blizzard and has now been rescheduled for June. 

    Activities in Our Schools

    Working around the blizzard, I was able to attend a couple of high school athletic events over the past month. The events were well attended and our student athletes competed very successfully.

    NJSBA

    I represented the NJ School Boards Association at the Governor’s FY 2017 Budget address on 2/16 at the Statehouse in Trenton.  The Governor announced that all school districts would see at least a small increase in direct educational aid funding under his funding proposal to the legislature.  There would also be some increases in Special Ed and Transportation Aid funding too.  Specific aid numbers by district will be released in the next couple of days.  It is important to note that Manchester is still far below the aid funding (-$1.1 million) that we received just five short years ago before dramatic reductions were made by the state to our school funding (-$2.3 million or 34.2%).  State funding represents just 10% of our total budget.  For every $1 in state income taxes Manchester residents send to Trenton, only 10 cents is received back in the form of school aid.  Typically, districts receive 30 cents on the dollar on average and districts like Manchester usually receive 50 cents or more.  The state continues to view Manchester Township as a wealthy community that does need additional school aid.  This funding decision on the part of the state is in direct conflict with the demographics of our schools that indicate a much higher level of state support is needed, but not forthcoming.

    Over the past month, I attended and spoke at County School Board Association Meetings in Warren, Mercer and Cape May counties.  These meetings, which were all very well attended, focused on recent NJ School Ethics Commission Decisions, advocacy efforts by local school board members, and the implications on local school boards related to the failure of the State Legislature to re-authorize Chapter 78, the state law that required increased contributions by school staff members towards their health benefits.   On 2/5, I attended an Audit Committee Meeting where we were briefed on the results of the Association’s FY 2014-2015 Audit Report.  The audit report contained an “Unmodified Opinion” with no adverse findings or recommendations.  It was as good a report as one could hope for.  I also chaired the NJSBA Board of Directors Meeting that evening.  At that meeting we formally accepted the report of the auditors, discussed a contract extension proposal for the association’s current Executive Director, and we reviewed and discussed information and issues relative to the school board elections that were held in November of 2015.

    Next Meeting

    The next regular meeting of the Manchester Township Board of Education will be is scheduled to take place on March 16, 2016 at 7:30 PM at the Ridgeway Elementary School.

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