BOE Reports & Notes

  • BOE President's Report March 18, 2015

    Posted by Donald Webster, Jr. at 3/19/2015 8:00:00 AM

    State/Federal Issues
    We continue to monitor education related bills that may affect Manchester. Currently, a series of bills have been introduced and are now being debated in the United States Congress that would reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA, out which came No Child Left Behind-NCLB), the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) for special needs children, the National Healthy Schools Lunch Program, and the Head Start Program, which serves low income students prior to their enrollment in the public schools.  We are concerned that several different versions of the bills have emerged.  Each of the bills have different perspectives on the reauthorizations.  Some of the provisions in these bills are encouraging, while others would have a negative impact on our students, schools, funding, and our community.  During my recent trip to Washington, I encouraged the members of the NJ Congressional Delegation to provide full funding of their legislation, give local districts flexibility in dealing with the mandates, observe educational best practices and seek input from locally elected school board members and educators in the field before finalizing these bills.  Hopefully, our concerns will be addressed through amendments to these proposed bills.

    Activities in Our Schools
    I participated in the Read Across America Day by reading a Dr. Suess story to two of our handicapped classes at the Whiting Elementary School on 2/27.

    Governor’s School Security Task Force
    The members of the Governor’s task force have now completed their work. We gathered pertinent information and met with individual experts on school security.  We also visited Newtown, Connecticut in order to speak with law enforcement and school officials there.  A series of three public hearings were heard during the week of 1/12/15 in order to seek the public’s input on school security related issues and concerns.  The task force reviewed, debated and discussed recommendations to submit in its final report to the Legislature and the Governor.  Our draft report has been submitted for review and approvals.  The final report of the Task Force is expected to be issued by April.  I believe the final report will closely mirror many of the recommendations that were included in the NJSBA School Security Task Force Report that was issued by our association last October at Workshop 2014.

    Sustainable Jersey for Schools
    I attended a couple of meetings as a Trustee of this organization on 12/4/14 and 2/26/15.  At these meetings we elected a new President of the Trustees, discussed the overall finances of the organization, the status of currently enrolled districts (100+), and our plans for rolling out the program on a state-wide basis in February of 2015. The group also discussed plans to make available grants later this year totaling $100,000 to districts who need financial support in order to implement sustainability programs in their local districts.  The Manchester Township Public Schools are now enrolled in this worthy program that helps to reduce our operating costs, is good for the environment by minimizing our carbon footprint, and may lead to additional funding resources to help support our schools.

    NJSBA School Security Task Force Presentations
    Mr. Ray Wiss, President Emeritus, Dr. Larry Feinsod, Executive Director, Brandon Pugh, President of the Burlington County School Boards Association and I gave three presentations around the state on the findings and recommendations of the task force.  An average of 50-60 people attended each of the presentations including local school board members, school administrators, parents, local police officers, current school security personnel and private security vendors.  The presentation and the recommendations contained in the final report were very well received by the attendees.

    NJ School Boards Association Activities (NJSBA)
    I attended and spoke at County Association Meetings in Atlantic, Hudson, Ocean, and Hunterdon counties over the last several weeks.  I also attended and spoke at an Urban Boards Committee Meeting in Trenton on 2/6.  I also chaired the Executive Committee Meeting of the association, which was held in Trenton on 3/3.  I attended and spoke at the New Board Member Weekend Orientation Program at Educational Testing Services in Princeton on 3/13-3/15.  This is an orientation program for newly elected school board members and is required by state law.  The association officers and I will be traveling to Nashville, TN in order to attend the National School Boards Association Delegate Assembly and Convention on 3/19-3/24/15.  I will be attending the conference as a Voting Delegate for NJ at no cost to our district.   

    Next Meeting
    The next regular meeting of the Manchester Township Board of Education will be held on April 22, 2015 with the public portion of the meeting beginning at 7:30 PM at the Ridgeway Elementary School
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  • BOE President's Report Feb. 18, 2015

    Posted by Donald Webster, Jr. at 2/19/2015

    State/Federal Issues

    We continue to monitor education related bills that may affect Manchester. Currently, a series of bills are being introduced in the United States Congress that would reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) which became No Child Left Behind (NCLB), the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) for special needs children, the National Healthy Schools Lunch Program and the Head Start Program, which serves low income students prior to their enrollment in the public schools.  We are concerned as to what will happen with these bills as several different versions have emerged.  Each of the bills have different perspectives on the reauthorizations.  Some of the provisions in these bills are encouraging, while others would have a negative impact on our students and our community.  During my recent trip to Washington, I encouraged the members of NJ Congressional Delegation to provide full funding of their legislation, give local districts flexibility in dealing with the mandates, observe best educational practices and seek input from locally elected board members.

    Activities in Our Schools

    The district will be holding the 2015-2016 School Budget Presentation Meetings on 2/24 & 2/25 at the Ridgeway Elementary School beginning at 6 PM. Principals, Administrators and Department Heads will be presenting their budget requests to the Board.  They will also discuss emerging trends, issues that they are dealing with and recommendations for the future of education in our schools.  The Board will have an opportunity to ask questions and make comments about the requests.  The public is invited to attend these meetings although public comment will not be taken at these meetings.  The formal Public Hearing on the final district budget request will come after the budget is approved by our Board and subsequently submitted and approved by the Executive County Superintendent of Schools for the State of NJ. The public hearing on the budget will likely occur near the end of March and the date, time and location will be announced in the near future.

    Governor’s School Security Task Force

    The members of the Governor’s task force have continued to meet on a weekly basis.    The task force has completed the process of reviewing a preliminary draft of the report including a discussion of the recommendations to submit to the Legislature and the Governor.  The final report of the Task Force is expected to be completed by the end of March.  I continue to believe that the final report will closely mirror the findings and recommendations that were included in the NJSBA School Security Task Force Report that was issued last October by the association.

    NJ School Boards Association Activities (NJSBA)

    I have attended and spoke at County Association Meetings in Ocean, Mercer, and Somerset counties over the last several weeks.  I also attended and spoke at an Urban Boards Meeting in Trenton on 2/6.  The association officers and a number of local school board members from around the state traveled to Washington, DC on 2/1-2/3.  The purpose of the trip was to attend the National School Boards Association (NSBA) Advocacy Institute Conference.  At the end of the conference we met with all of the members or their staff of the NJ Congressional Delegation in order to discuss the status of Federal education bills, school funding, local control and governance issues and concerns. 

    Next Meeting

    The next regular meeting of the Manchester Township Board of Education will be held on March 18, 2015 with the public portion of the meeting beginning at 7:30 PM at the Ridgeway Elementary School.

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  • BOE President's Report January 21, 2015

    Posted by Donald Webster, Jr. at 1/21/2015

    State/Federal Issues
    We continue to monitor education related bills that may affect Manchester. A recently passed piece of legislation of note included a bill that requires the NJ School Report Card to include indicators of student career readiness.  Some pending legislation includes a bill to study the options and benefits of instituting a later school start time in middle school and high school and one that establishes measures to deter steroid use among students.

    Activities in Our Schools
    I had an opportunity to see our High School Girls and Boys Basketball teams in action during the holidays.  The teams played very well and showed good sportsmanship.  I also attended the MLK Program at our high school on 1/16.  This was a very well attended program that included performances by the combined gospel chorus and several keynote speeches.

    Sustainable Jersey for Schools
    I attended my first meeting as a Trustee of this organization on 12/4/14.  At the meeting we elected a new President of the Trustees, discussed the overall finances of the organization, the status of currently enrolled school districts, and our plans for rolling out the program on a state-wide basis in February of 2015.   Our school district is in the process of submitting the required paperwork in order to become a recognized member of this program.

    Governor’s School Security Task Force
    The members of the Governor’s task force continue to meet on a weekly basis in our assigned sub-committees.  During the week of January 12, three public hearings were held in to seek input from the public on this important issue.  We continue to gather pertinent information and meet and speak with individual experts on school security.  A trip up to Newtown, Connecticut is planned in the near future in order to speak with members of law enforcement and the school staff.  The task force has also now started the process of deciding what recommendations to submit in its report to the Legislature and the Governor.  The final report of the Task Force is expected to be completed by the end of March.  I believe the final report will closely mirror the findings and recommendations that were included in the NJSBA School Security Task Force Report that was issued last October by the association.
     
    NJ School Boards Association Activities (NJSBA)
    Since my election as President of the association on November 15th, I have attended and spoken at County Association Meetings in Salem, Ocean, Cape May, Mercer, Somerset, Morris, Monmouth and Hunterdon.  I attended, participated and spoke at the New Board Member Weekend Orientation Program on 1/9-1/11/15 in Plainfield, NJ.  Along with Dr. Feinsod, I attended a State Board of Education Meeting on 1/7/15 where Local Board of Education Members were recognized for their contributions to public education via a Resolution declaring January Local BOE Member Recognition Month.  I, along with Dr. Feinsod, represented NJSBA at a LEE Group meeting on 1/8/15 in Hamilton, NJ.  This group is made up of representatives from the leading educational groups in NJ (Superintendents, DOE, PTA, School Business Officials, Principal’s & Supervisors and the NJEA). Our discussions centered around Common Core, PARCC, school funding, school construction project approvals and proposed/pending legislation.  I also chaired the first Executive Committee Meeting of the New Year for the association in Trenton on 1/6.

    NJ Schools Insurance Group Activities (NJSIG)
    I attended my final NJSIG Trustees Meeting in Jamesburg on 12/10/14.  At the meeting we approved the bill list and claim payments, and the financial reports of the group.  We interviewed a candidate for the Executive Director’s position for the Group to replace Mr. Marty Kalbach, who retired at the end of the calendar year.  Finally, I updated the Trustees on the status of our progress towards finding a new headquarters location for the group.

    Next Meeting
    The next regular meeting of the Manchester Township Board of Education will be held on February 18, 2015 with the public portion of the meeting beginning at 7:30 PM at the Ridgeway Elementary School.

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  • BOE President's Report December 17, 2014

    Posted by Donald Webster, Jr. at 12/18/2014 9:00:00 AM
    State/Federal Issues
    We continue to monitor education related bills that may affect Manchester.  Recently the NJ Legislatures Joint Committee on the Public Schools held hearings on the impact of Superintendent Salary Caps and School District Regionalization.   Government Relations Representatives from NJSBA testified at both of these hearings. 

    It was noted that that there has been an excessive amount of turnover among school superintendents (+40%) over the last several years, especially in the northern part of the state.  Some of the blame for this phenomenon has been attributed to the salary caps implemented by the state.  Some districts have been using interim superintendents for over 4 years now, as they have not been able to find a permanent replacement with the experience or credentials and willingness to accept the salary cap pay limitations. Testimony indicated that many times the interim superintendents are retired individuals who are collecting both a state pension in addition to the payments they receive from the local school districts.  In addition, according to current state regulations they may only serve as an interim superintendent for up to two years in a particular district.  It was stated that the state is not saving the money they originally envisioned, effective school leadership is suffering, and ultimately entire districts struggle to function and improve as required under the student achievement expectations and the accountability regulations.
     
    During the regionalization hearing, it was noted that there are a lot of misconceptions about how regionalization works and the assumptions that go into the decision by school districts of whether to go forward with regionalization.  It was stated that there are generally perceived winners and losers when regionalization is forced upon districts and communities.  The perception is that regionalization efforts are solely focused on the amount of money that can be saved and the impact on local property taxes.  When in fact, many voluntary and successful regionalization efforts were focused primarily on the pooling of resources and the expansion of educational opportunities for students.  The legislature is under the impression that huge amounts of money will be saved and property taxes will be dramatically reduced and this will be the panacea for all our property tax problems in NJ.  The recent voluntary South Hunterdon Regional School District Consolidation was cited by the Committee Chair as a successful consolidation that saved a lot of money.  However, testimony indicated that the rationalization of the South Hunterdon district ultimately save only $170,000.   The primary stated reason for the consolidation was the pooling of resources and educational opportunities for students.  It was noted that a Rutgers study had indicated that if all of the state’s K-8 districts were forced to merge into K-12 districts the state could potentially save $400 million, but that property tax payers would not see a dramatic overall drop in their property taxes.  Again, there would be perceived winners and losers.  In addition, testimony indicated that the state has in place a number of impediments that make the decision to go forward with regionalization less than desirable for local school districts and communities.  The committee was urged to reduce the impediments to regionalization and provide funds for feasibility studies that would help districts/communities decide if voluntary regionalization makes sense for them.

    Activities in Our Schools
    I attended several of the holiday concerts in our schools. The students performed at a very high level and the concerts were very well attended by parents, relatives and community members.

    Sustainable Jersey
    I was appointed as a Trustee of this organization replacing John Bulina, Immediate Past President of NJSBA.  The organization met at TCNJ on December 4.  The purpose of the group is to promote and recognize conservation efforts and the reduction of the carbon footprint of both Municipalities and Schools in NJ.  In this way, communities and schools can help the environment while saving money for local taxpayers.  More information can be obtained at the website www.SustainableJerseySchools.com.

    Governor’s School Security Task Force
    The committee continues to meet at least twice per month in Trenton in order to come up with best practices and security recommendations to be implemented on a statewide basis following the guidelines that were developed by the state legislature.  The task force expects to complete its work and issue a report by April of 2015.   We will be hearing from additional experts in the field along with state officials and we will be holding public hearings around the state in order to get input from the public on this important issue.   The public hearings are expected to take place during January 2015.

    NJ School Boards Association Activities (NJSBA)
    I participated in a second meeting with Rutgers University Officials and local school district representatives to discuss exciting new research based on collaboration of school officials and key stakeholders.  This research will lead to a pilot project in some of our local school districts with the goal being to enhance student achievement.  Participating entities included the NJ Education Association, American Federation of Teachers, NJ Association of School Administrators and the Principals and Supervisors Association.  A statewide forum is being planned for February of 2015 in order to role out the pilot project.  I also participated in a Legislative Committee Meeting in Trenton on 12/6 were we received updates on State and Federal legislative initiatives.  I attended and spoke at County School Boards Association Meetings in Hunterdon, Monmouth, Middlesex, Salem, Somerset and Ocean Counties.  Each of the meetings had separate themes geared towards relevant public education issues.

    NJ Schools Insurance Group Activities (NJSIG)
    I attended the 12/10 regular meeting of the Board of Trustees.  We approved the bill and claims lists and financial reports for the group. We discussed the status of the groups search for a new headquarters location.  We also interviewed and approved the appointment of a new Executive Director effective for 2015.

    Next Meeting
    I would like to wish everyone a safe and happy holiday season and a healthy and prosperous new year.  The reorganization meeting of the board will be held on January 7 beginning at 7:00PM at the Ridgeway Elementary School.

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