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BOE President's Report January 2018
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State/Federal Issues

We continue to monitor education related legislation and regulations that may affect Manchester. On the state level, there has been a flurry of last minute bills that have advanced in the lame duck legislative session:

  • Assembly Bill-336 would waive the annual teacher evaluation requirement for certain teachers who supervise student teachers
  • A-2220/S-1729 would authorize local units of government (including boards of education) to use electronic procurement technologies
  • S-1472 would direct the Commissioner to establish a pilot program to recruit male residents of NJ who are from disadvantaged or minority backgrounds to enroll in the alternate route teacher preparation program
  • A-3396 directs the State Board of Education to require that a school district incorporate financial literacy instruction for pupils enrolled in kindergarten through the eighth grade (there is currently a high school graduation requirement for this action)
  • A-4281/S2748 would exempt fuel used for school buses from the Petroleum Gross Receipts Tax and the Motor Fuels Tax
  • A-3655-2728/S-3310 would require a local Board of Education to display information about the NJ Department of Children & Families toll-free hotline for reporting child abuse
  • A5074/S-3416 directs the Division of Fire Safety to conduct a survey of fire suppression systems in all public & nonpublic school buildings in the state and to provide those results to the NJ DOE
  • A-4318/S-2704 would require the Commissioner, with the approval of the State Board, to develop a grant program for districts to develop dual language immersion programs
  • A-4906/S-3372 would require the Department of Agriculture to develop and make available to each school district participating in the National School Lunch Program, an internet based online school meal application for eligible students
  • A-191/S-2313 would require school buildings to be equipped with a roof mounted emergency light and a panic alarm that is linked to law enforcement. A Note: This proposed legislation would run contrary to the recommendations of the "Governor's School Security Task Force" that I was a member of. The law enforcement members of the task force were adamantly opposed to an emergency light being placed on the top of school buildings. It was felt that this would only lead to more chaos in an emergency situation and increase the problem of identifying the bad guys
  • A-2362/S-447 would require the Commissioner to include the number and percentage of students who were chronically absent and the number of schools above a certain level of absenteeism on the annual state reports provided to parents
  • A-5254/S-3447 would provide for cooperative sports programs among multiple district high schools when there are participation issues and allow for student athlete participation from private school and home instruction students in our public school athletic programs. The NJSIAA has opposed this legislation.

It has certainly been a very busy lame duck session for our state legislature!

On the federal front, both houses of Congress have now passed their own versions of budget bills for 2018-2019. The process of reconciliation of these bills has begun. The bills hold education funding relatively flat with the exception of Title 4 funding. Proposed Title 4 funding reductions would have an adverse impact on professional development training and recruitment and retention of certified teaching staff at a time when there is a recognized national shortage of these individuals. IDEA (Special Ed) funding would increase by several hundred million dollars under the proposed bills, but the federal government would still be underfunding their mandated programs by billions of dollars.

In addition, the proposed overhaul of our federal tax system has been signed into law by the President. Details about the tax overhaul law are very concerning for the residents of NJ. Specifically, there could be a significant adverse impact on our state's residents with respect to their federal tax liability. Additionally, the projected overall loss of federal revenue included in this law is very concerning in that it could result in significant reductions to federal funding for a number of programs that affect public education and healthcare, among others.

Manchester School District

The reorganization meeting of the board took place on 1/3/18. Three board members, two of whom are newly elected, were sworn in. The Board's meeting calendar for 2018 was also adopted at this meeting.

On 1/12/18, Board member Melanie Biscardi and I attended the 49th Annual Celebration of the Life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. at the high school. The event featured our combined Middle School and High School Gospel Chorus under the direction of Ms. Selena Bullock. In addition to the outstanding performance by our Gospel Chorus, the evening included an original poetry reading by our former student, Cheyenne Jacobs, an inspirational message by Keynote Speaker Reverend Nancy Jackson Johnson, and messages from Mrs. Claire Rutz of the Middle School and our Superintendent Mr. David Trethaway. In spite of the bad weather, a large and enthusiastic crowd attended this moving event.

NJ School Boards Association (NJSBA)

On 1/5-1/7, I attended and participated in the Weekend New Board Member Orientation Program in Princeton. All new board members are required by law to attend an approved orientation program within the first year of their election. At this program, new board members were provided with the information required by law that they need to be effective school board members. This was accomplished via large group presentation sessions and was reinforced during small group discussions and role playing exercises, led by veteran board members.

Next Meeting

The next regular meeting of the Manchester Township Board of Education is scheduled to be held on February 21 at the Ridgeway Elementary School with the public portion of the meeting beginning at 7:30 PM.