Manchester Township School District's Teachers of the Year and Educational Service Professionals of the Year were honored at the May 10, 2017 Board of Education meeting. Teachers of the Year are: Nina Hennig - Ridgeway, Elizabeth Hahn - MTES, Nancy Condardo - MTMS, Christine Newbury - MTHS, Talyah HIngston - Whiting, and Karen Craig - Regional Day. Educational Service Professionals of the Year are: Madeline Sias - Ridgeway, Roisin Cooke - MTES, Lisa Dolan - MTMS, Carol Moroz - MTHS, Diane Zakerski - Whiting, and Debra Gallaro - Regional Day.
BOE News & Reports
The Manchester Township Board of Education is searching for a qualified candidate to fill a vacancy on their board, effective immediately.
School board members must be registered voters who have lived in the district for at least a year. They must be able to read and write and cannot hold a contract with or claim against the school district.
It all started with MTHS AP Environmental Science teacher, Will Schmidt, wondering why he saw so many dead deer along Route 37 West on his commute to school. The result: a partnership with BASF Corp. that has students doing fieldwork and data collection to investigate the deer population at the company's Toms River site. Schmidt and MTHS Vice Principal, Stacie Ferrara, gave an update on the project at the April 26, 2017 Board of Education meeting.
The Manchester Township Board of Education approved the 2017-18 school district budget at their April 26, 2017 regular meeting. The budget maintains all current staff, programs and services, including block scheduling and the S.O.A.R program at the high school, after school busing, and all extracurricular programs and staff. Additions for next year include new courses at the high school, the addition of an Elementary Guidance Counselor, new Chromebooks (or similar) for use in classroom instruction and testing, new and replacement interactive projectors at all levels, new textbooks, and replacement of buses.
We continue to monitor education related bills and regulations that may affect Manchester. Proposed bills in the NJ Legislature include: continued discussion of the Governor's proposed State Budget proposal for 2017-2018 and the fate of the School Funding Formula continues to dominate the legislative agenda, public hearings, and the various legislative committee meetings.
The State DOE has issued a report entitled "Later Start Times for Schools" that was requested by the state legislature. This request was done in response to the recent release of studies indicating that there are positive health and educational impacts related to later school start times. The report concluded that there are genuine health and educational benefits related to later start times for our students, however, the obstacles that would need to be overcome in order to make later start times a reality would not be practical at this time.
On 5/1 the State Board of Education approved re-authorized "Accountability Regulations" that apply to all public schools. They include revised Superintendent Salary Caps and some other minor revisions. Unfortunately, many of the requested revisions contained in an exhaustive collaborative report prepared by the leading state education groups (NJSBA, ASA, PSA, PTA, NJEA and ASBO) were not acted on. These proposed changes would have made the regulations more cost efficient, beneficial to our staff and board members, and administratively less burdensome to administer, however, they were not approved by the state.
At the Federal level, a budget agreement that would fund the government for the remainder of the current fiscal year (till September) has been approved. The funding agreement includes very small increases for Title I Programs (services for students living in poverty) and IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act - services for disabled students). It also continues to fund Title II Programs (Professional Development & Mentoring Support for teaching staff) at current levels. There was concern that the Title II funding would be eliminated. What this all means for a timely agreement on the 2018 Federal Budget is unknown at this time.
Manchester School District
I attended the Whiting School Spring Concert on 5/9. The students gave a terrific performance that was enjoyed by a large crowd of enthusiastic parents, relatives and friends.
I also participated in the POAC Organization Fundraising Walk for Autism on 5/6 at the Blueclaws Stadium in Lakewood. Our group included a number of staff and principals. Our group was named the "Manchester Super Heroes" and we raised over $1,000 in support of the work this organization does for autistic children in New Jersey.
NJ School Boards Association (NJSBA)
On 5/2, I chaired the Executive Committee Meeting in Trenton. At this meeting we heard reports from the Executive Director and the Department heads, reviewed the association's financial reports and discussed the upcoming agendas for the next Board of Directors Meeting and the semi-annual Delegate Assembly.
Since our last meeting, I attended and spoke at County School Boards Association Meetings in Middlesex, Cape May, Atlantic and Hunterdon counties. These meetings focused on the board's role in advancing student achievement, government relations issues and recognition of boards of education and individual board members who have completed advanced training courses or who have reached member service milestones.
On 5/4, I met with US Army Lt. Colonel Bryant, who will be assuming command of the Mid-Atlantic Recruiting Battalion from Lt. Colonel Croot. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss our ongoing relationship and school based programs and supports currently provided by the Army.
On 5/8, I had the privilege of Co-hosting the Special Education Week Recognition Luncheon in Princeton with the President of ASAH (The Association of Schools and Agencies for the Handicap). At this luncheon, eight school based special education programs from around the state were honored and recognized for their uniqueness, creativeness, effectiveness, and accomplishments. This annual awards luncheon is always a very moving and uplifting event.
Sustainable Jersey For Schools
I attended the Trustees Meeting at TCNJ on 4/28. We received updates on the status of program events, the work of our subcommittees, membership participation numbers, finances, and organization staffing. There was also an update and follow-up discussion related our recent strategic planning meetings.
On 4/25, I co-hosted a Sustainable Jersey for Schools Grant Awards Program event at the Hedgepeth-Williams School in the City of Trenton. Thirty-four schools from around the state received grant awards totaling $120,000 in order to help them further their sustainable practices and projects. The grant funding was provided by the PSE&G Foundation.
The next meeting of the Manchester Township Board of Education will be held on June 14 at the Ridgeway Elementary School beginning at 7:30 PM.