The focus is on expanding options for students at Manchester Township Middle School this year, with the addition of new elective courses in music and drama, as well as the upcoming debut of a new Genius Hour Lab.
BOE News & Reports
Seventy-four percent of Manchester Township High School students surveyed said they feel they learn better under the new block schedule by taking just four classes per semester instead of seven all year. Instituted in September 2016, The block schedule received good reviews from students and staff in a recent survey.
The Manchester School District will deal with a state aid cut of $111,232 by not replacing several teachers who retired and increasing budgeted extraordinary aid based on funds received during 2016-17. Business Administrator, Craig Lorentzen, explained that the state budget approved in early July included revisions to 2017-2018 state education aid for school budgets already approved by the Department of Education.
Gayle Mount took the oath of office as the newest member of the Manchester Township Board of Education at the July 26 BOE meeting. Mrs. Mount is a Special Education Teacher in the Brick school system and a member of the MTHS Class of 1995. She was appointed to fill a vacancy created when Mary Walter resigned from the board in May.
We continue to monitor education related legislation and regulations that may affect Manchester. Our state and federal legislators will be returning to Trenton/Washington after summer recess shortly. On the state level, it appears that the upcoming November elections will dominate the conversation for the next couple of months. Once the elections are over, a "lame duck" period will follow until the members are sworn in during January of 2018. It is not clear what legislative actions may be pursued on short notice during this period of time. However, if we have learned anything from our history, we can expect the unexpected from our legislature during the "lame duck."
Manchester School District
Chris Nolan, Gayle Mount and I toured all of our schools on 7/31 in order to physically observe their condition and witness the status of the progress that had been made related to the referendum and our in-house maintenance staff projects during the summer. A great deal of work has been done. The referendum project work is finally nearing completion. Our staff have done a lot of work in order to keep the investment in our schools in top shape. Our Administrative, Secretarial, Teaching and Support Staff have also been working hard in order to make sure our schools ready for the arrival of students on 9/6.
Gayle Mount and I participated in the Kindergarten Orientation Program at MTES on 8/26. Our presentation focused on who we are as board members, what training we undergo, what role we play in the educational process and what are our primary responsibilities to the district and the community. We also talked about ways parents can learn about what's going on in the district and how they can become engaged with us. Finally, we emphasized the important role that parents play in the education of their children.
Several Board members attended the Back-to-School Nights at the Middle School, MTES & the High School during the weeks of 9/11 & 9/18. We handed out brochures that talked about the role of the board, the accomplishments of our district and its students, and the ways that parents can interact with our schools and be supportive of their children's education.
On 9/8, several of the members attended the first High School football game of the year. There was a large and enthusiastic crowd. The team played very well, which ultimately resulted in an upset victory for the Hawks.
NJ School Boards Association (NJSBA)
On 9/6/17, members of our Government Relations Staff and I met with State Senator Beck in her Red Bank Office primarily concerning school funding problems for districts in Monmouth County. Similar issues have also arisen here in Ocean County as a result of the recent state budget fiasco. We also discussed escalating Special Education costs and related federal/state funding problems that adversely impact our school districts. We had a very productive conversation and we were also able to clarify some misunderstandings that the Senator had.
I attended the Trustees Meeting at Duke Farms in Hillsborough on 9/14 along with Executive Director Dr. Feinsod. We received updates on the status of program events, the work of our subcommittees, membership participation numbers, finances, and current organization staffing. There was also an update and follow-up discussion related to our strategic planning meetings. After the Trustees meeting, I went on a guided tour of the property, which is now used as an environmental education venue.
On 9/18, I participated in the Sustainable Jersey Certification Standards Committee Meeting in Trenton. At this meeting we approved new actions for the overall Sustainable Jersey for Schools Program, which were recommended by our working Task Forces. These actions are focused on the areas of Health & Wellness in our Schools, Energy Savings, and iSTEAM initiatives. We also heard updates on program progress and reports from each of the working subcommittee chairs.
ELF NJ (Educational Leadership Foundation)
I attended the Board of Trustees Meeting in Trenton on 9/12 in Trenton. At this meeting we reelected Officers and Trustees to new terms, reviewed our foundation finances, heard an update on our funding raising efforts and the plans related to Workshop 2017 in October.
The next meeting of the Manchester Township Board of Education is scheduled to be held on October 18 at the Ridgeway Elementary School with the public portion of the meeting beginning at 7:30 PM.