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July BOE Meeting Highlights

District calendar revisions, a pilot program for iPad textbooks, teacher evaluation, and a new energy program were among the items discussed at the July 25, 2012 Manchester Township Board of Education meeting. Also at the meeting, Manchester Township High School senior, Christopher D., was honored for his achievement of the rank of Eagle Scout in the Boy Scouts of America.  Christopher’s Eagle project entailed creating a time capsule for the high school, along with a garden in the area where the capsule is buried. [see related article]

BOE President Donald Webster, Jr. reported on summer activity in the district, progress of the new teacher evaluation system and district policy review committees, and his activities at the state level.  [Read full President’s Report]

Superintendent of Schools, David Trethaway, noted that Mr. Webster is an officer in the state school boards association (NJSBA) and is very active at both the state and national level.  “We thank you for that,” Trethaway remarked.

Trethaway also thanked the administrators for their participation in the interview process for teacher candidates over the past month.  “Our candidates go through a very rigorous process with several interviews and it is very time-consuming,” he said.   “But this is definitely one of the most important jobs we have…making sure we have the best personnel possible.” 

Trethaway encouraged parents to attend the various orientation programs coming up: 

MS 6th Grade Orientation on Aug. 12, HS Freshman Building Tours on Aug. 20 & 23, and Kindergarten Orientation – Aug. 21 at WS, Aug. 22 at RS, Aug. 23 at MTES. 

The district will experiment with iPad textbooks this year, with a pilot class at the high school using the digital textbooks.  Not only do the iPads allow for integration of videos and more, but they could also be cost-effective, Trethaway said.  “We’ll have to see what input we get from the pilot program.”

The district is also looking into providing wireless internet connectivity in all school buildings. Trethaway said that the new state testing program that launches in 2013/14 is required to be done completely online, and wireless connectivity would be necessary to make that happen.  However that requirement could change because many schools are not capable of doing this yet, he said.

Trethaway thanked the participants of the committee to review possible Teacher Evaluation systems for the district.  The committee included representation from all levels of staff, parents, and the BOE.  “Their input is very important,” he remarked. He said that two systems, Danielson and Marzano, are still in the running.  

The district calendar is being revised to allow for staff training on the new evaluation system, Trethaway announced.  February 14 & 15 will now be staff in-service days, with schools closed for students, and the last day of school for both students and staff will now be June 14.

Business Administrator, Craig Lorentzen, reported that the district would participate in a 5-year contract with EnerNOC to participate in an energy response program at no cost to the district.  Through this contract, the district would be asked to reduce energy use during periods of peak demand.  The district would get at least two hours notice and would have the option to decline if unable to cut back at that moment.  Lorentzen said peak demand generally occurs during the summer when students are not in the buildings.  He said that the district could potentially make $185,000 from this program over five years.

The district will receive $447,413 in NCLB funds for the 2012-13 school year.  Lorentzen said this is a reduction of $39,000 from last year and told the board that the state has told districts to be prepared for a possible cut in January.