BOE News & Reports
MTHS English Teacher, Jennifer Ansbach, received the 2016 Paul and Kate Farmer English Journal Writing Award at the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) convention held in Atlanta in November. Ansbach's winning articlewas published in the March 2016 issue of English Journal. She was honored at the January BOE meeting.
Alyssa Peterson, a fifth grader at Ridgeway Elementary School, was honored at the January 18, 2017 Board of Education meeting for winning the New Jersey Natural Gas Conservataion Poster Contest.
Newly elected Board of Education member Patrick Barry, re-elected BOE member Jackie Bermudez, and re-appointed Lakehurst Representative Dean Hetzel were sworn in at the January 4, 2017 Manchester Township Board of Education reorganization meeting.
We continue to monitor education related bills that may affect Manchester. Proposed bills in the NJ Legislature include: A3946/S2364 that would create a CDL Testing Pilot Program for School Bus Drivers (due to changes in the federal Motor Carrier Laws, there is a backup in the testing process in NJ that is creating a shortage of drivers around the state); S1474/A2786 would require new teachers to take special education courses (6 credit hours) in order to receive their teaching licenses and special education majors would also be required to complete additional course work; A4284/S2675 would back date to 1/1/2016 reimbursements to school districts who completed the now mandated lead testing in water prior to the enactment of the new state law; and S447 would require absenteeism information to be included on the State School Report Cards and districts would also be required to formulate plans to address this issue. Numerous studies have shown that chronic absenteeism is a major barrier to student achievement and successful outcomes.
At the Federal level, all rule making processes related to the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) that replaced No Child Left Behind last year have been temporarily suspended by the new administration. It is not clear what the road ahead will look like for the regulations related to this new federal law or when they will be enacted.
Manchester School District
My wife and I, along with many of my fellow BOE members, attended the High School Musical "The Addams Family" on 2/10-2/11. Our talented students did a wonderful job with a very difficult production piece. The show I attended was crowded with many parents, relatives, community members, students and staff, all of whom seemed to thoroughly enjoy the performance. The show also marked the acting debut by a relative newcomer by the name of Mr. Dennis Addams, our high school principal. Kudos to all of the folks who were involved in this terrific show.
NJ School Boards Association
On January 27-31, I attended an Equity Symposium and the Advocacy Institute Conference sponsored by the National School Boards Association (NSBA) in Washington, DC, at no cost to the district. The Equity Symposium focused on fostering equity and fairness in our academic programs, services, funding and treatment of students of color or who have gender identity related issues. The Advocacy Institute focused on presentations from our elected federal officials and experts on public policy and K-12 education. Many of the discussions revolved around what the education landscape will look like under the new administration. Concerns were raised about the possible diversion of public education funds to for-profit charter schools, vouchers and other religious schools. No one we spoke with from either party of the NJ Congressional Delegation seemed to have any idea of where we are headed with respect to federal funding or the reauthorization of critical federal education laws that have now expired including the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), the Carl Perkins Vocational Education Act, or the Healthy Choices-Hunger Free Schools National School Lunch Program. The possible diversion of limited federal funding will leave states and local districts with the difficult choice of either raising taxes or cutting/reducing programs and services in other academic or infrastructure areas in order to offset the loss of federal dollars for these legally mandated programs. This is especially troubling given that the federal government has historically never fully funded any of their legislated education laws.
I chaired an Executive Committee Meeting in Trenton on 2/14/17. At this meeting we heard reports from all of the Staff Directors, reviewed our association financial reports, and discussed the agenda for the upcoming Board of Directors Meeting on 3/4/17. I also participated in a Finance Committee Meeting on 2/15 in Trenton. We reviewed and discussed a proposed budget for the association for 2017-2018. For the eighth straight year, the budget holds member dues flat, while increasing the percentage of the budget funded by corporate and philanthropic organizations.
Since our last meeting, I spoke and attended County School Boards Association Meetings in Middlesex and Ocean counties. At these meetings we heard presentations about First Amendment and Transgender issues in our schools and how our current state and federal laws say we should deal with them. We also heard presentations on the programs and services available to our students from our county colleges, and we heard from representatives of the US Army about job, career, and scholarship opportunities in our armed forces. Finally, we heard updates from the NJSBA Field Service and Government Relations Staff at all of the meetings.
The next meeting of the Manchester Township Board of Education will be held on March 15th at the Ridgeway Elementary School beginning at 7:30 PM.