BOE President's Report - November 16, 2011

Posted by Donald Webster, Jr. at 11/16/2011 10:00:00 PM

I have now attended two QSAC group meetings where we have been organizing and gathering the documentation needed in order to show compliance with the various state accountability regulations. The Executive County Superintendent and his staff are expected to visit our district on February 14, 2012 to conduct their site review. We hope to have all of our documentation together and entered into the State computer system by December 9.

I attended the Annual NJ School Boards Association (NJSBA) Workshop 2011 in Atlantic City, NJ at no cost to the district on October 22-26. I was a member of a panel who participated in a mock board educational program exercise for new board members; I introduced some presenters at the conference and I helped host a number of events as an Officer of the state association. At the conference we heard from author and education advocate Jamie Vollmer; Earl C. Rickman III, the immediate past president of the National School Boards Association (NSBA); and members of the State Board of Education along with NJ Education Commissioner Cerf.

NJ Education Commissioner Cerf spoke extensively at the NJSBA Workshop. During his presentation he announced that in the future there would be seven Regional Education Improvement Directors in the State who will coordinate and help oversee educational improvements and the operations of local school districts. It was not clear whether the regions would be organized along traditional county lines or if they will be organized around an allocation based on the number of students being served in local school districts. He also mentioned that he has reorganized the Table of Organization at the State DOE in order to focus on student achievement. He has created a panel made up of experts from around the nation (mostly from academia) who will review how the current NJ education funding formula (SEFA) is constituted. It is believed that he is looking at the possibility of making changes in order to eliminate some of the problems that have been identified with the current formula. He also commented favorably on the Governor’s Task Force on Education Reform that is looking at redundant, costly and unnecessary statutes and regulations that could/should be eliminated in order to reduce the administrative burden and cost to local school districts. Finally, he spoke about the administration’s efforts to reform tenure and teacher evaluations. He noted that ten districts would serve as pilots in the coming year to work toward developing an evaluation system that can be used on a statewide basis that is fair, consistent and reflective of the goal to improve student achievement.

I attended and spoke at the annual High School Naval ROTC Inspection on November 2. LCMDR Hac and 1st Sergeant Hinger did a great job working with our Cadets for this review, which was conducted by Commander Hankins. Commander Hankins spoke well of the cadets and their preparedness for the inspection. There were a large number of parents and members of our community who attended this event, which was much appreciated by the cadets.

Federal Relations Network (FRN) Activities Update: A number of proposals to overhaul the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) that expired almost four years ago have been introduced in Congress. As we know, out of ESEA came the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) regulations. A number of congressmen have already offered amendments to the proposed bills. It appears that there is still no agreement on how this Act of Congress should be revised even after four years of debate and discussion. In the meantime, NJ has petitioned the Federal Government for relief from some of the more onerous and damaging aspects of the original legislation that cost taxpayer money and do nothing to enhance student achievement. Hopefully, our state’s waiver request will be approved.

The next Board of Education Meeting will take place on December 21 at the Ridgeway Elementary School starting at 7:30 PM (Public portion of meeting).