Parent and taxpayer response

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Wednesday, February 1, 2012

What Does the Public Miss When They DO NOT ATTEND EPSD Meetings?

Special Public Board Meeting - Monday, January 30, 2012

This was the lightest agenda that I have seen to date, but the meeting was not any shorter for the paper saved. Time was definitely wasted as usual.
The Chinese are coming.
It started with a panel discussion of how and when to handle the 20 Chinese students who will visit the district in the Spring or Summer. Port Chester was mentioned a lot. It was not clear why. Perhaps it was a way of demonstrating that more time was needed to prepare for the visit. During the course of this panel discussion, it was clear that more planning is needed. Much more planning is needed before bringing in 20 students who must live in the homes of Englewood residents. They will all attend McCloud Elementary School for 8 days. Some time in the future Englewood will send students to China. (Somehow this is not a trip that I would want my child taking.) Many decisions must be made and agreed upon before finalizing the particulars of this visit.
School Board Elections
After some discussion of whether to change school board elections to November, a vote was taken. They voted to keep the elections in April. It seems George Garrison and Henry Pruitt were the only ones in favor of moving the elections to November. (Dr. Carlisle was clearly in favor of the move. It is good that he does not get a vote.) Henry Pruitt waffled, as usual. It is difficult to determine where Mr. Pruitt stands on many issues. He was ambivalent, again. When will Mr. Pruitt realize that sitting cross-legged on the fence does not encourage people who have supported him every single election to vote in his favor again? One must take a stand for something or continue to fall for everything.
The High School Musical
There was an overwhelming NO vote not to bring in an outside choreographer that the Director of the musical simply could not do without. Was this position posted? Probably not. We have a great young choreographer working with Dr. Hollander. She is the one who has put more pep in the step of the color guard and choreographed the steps for the 80th Birthday Celebration at DMHS. She already has a good relationship with the students and has demonstrated the ability to get them to work hard and produce. Now about this musical. Why is there no budget for the musical?  The musical director and the director were the only positons that appeared in an earlier agenda. The Musical should be a draw for the community and all positions should be posted in district first.  In Teaneck, anyone who auditions, gets a part someplace in the production. This practice is good for the students and sells more tickets. The Musical may never support itself, but the loss should not be so great that one does not want to see it listed on the agenda. It will never earn anything significant without a commitment from the district and the community.

High School Musicals generally include the following positions: All of the positions are posted within the district. People from outside are hired for specialties not covered from within.

  • Producer/Director (2 entirely different set of duties, but are combined sometimes)
  • Musical Director (The Orchestra is generally directed and conducted by the Instrumental music teacher)
  • Vocal Music Director (the chorus teacher - if they apply)
  • Choreographer (the dance teacher - if they apply)
  • Set Designer/ (Sometimes combined with Tech director)
  • Technical Director (This person might come from outside. Few districts have this specialty included even within the Theatre Department. May include lighting and sound design)
  • Costume Designer/Wardrobe Mistress - (This person should be able to sew in order to cut down on costume rental costs. Wardrobe Mistress position is sometimes earned by a diligent student proficient in that area. This area is sorely lacking in Englewood. The spectacle that is created at this point is less than impressive.)
  • Rehearsal Pianist - (Sometimes done by musical director, but is more effective time management if conducted by another person.)
  • Production Stage Manager - (Most of the time this is an unpaid position and is given to a student. It is a valid job that pays in the real world)
  • Dance Captain - (Also an unpaid position usually given to a deserving student. It is also a valid position that exists in the real world. Works closely with the choreographer.)
Many of the positions listed above train students for positions/careers in the real world. Students from Teaneck who are working in real world Theatrical/Arts positions today got their first training while participating in the production of the high school musical.

Englewood spends most of the money on the first 2 positions. That is gluttony and selfishness on the part of the two people who claim those positions. It also demonstrates an ignorance of the theatrical production process on the part of the Superintendent and Board of Education. $30 an hour. Wow! The people who negotiated that hourly wage for working on the Musical should negotiate for the EQUITY of instruction at the high school. When working as Costume Designer or Choreographer of the Musical in Teaneck, my hourly wage was probably less than $5 an hour. I did not love the salary, but I enjoyed working with the students and watching the final product in performance. I am not seeing evidence that a Career Cluster exists anywhere on campus for the Fine & Performing Arts. This is tragic and shows a gross oversight on the part of the BOE since the Arts are a proven attraction/Magnet for people of all races, religions and socio-economic groups.
Bullying & Harassment Law
The board voted to write a letter to rescind the support of the Allamuchy Complaint about the Bullying and Harassment Law. This is good. Hopefully they will continue to alleviate any existing problems of bullying among students and staff in the district.
The School Board Meeting Agenda
Some time was spent arguing over a point that never would have been a problem if the agendas were completed in a more detailed manner. Mr. Garrison objected to After-School Tutoring compensation, because the agenda did not make it clear that the tutoring is intended to help prepare Elementary school students who have previously scored poorly on the NJASK. The Business Administrator pointed out that the monies are being taken from a Title I account and does not cost the district. Englewood is a Title I district and a certain amount of money must be used to help Title I students learn to take these standardized tests successfully. This writer is just glad that the preparation for the test is to begin now instead of two weeks prior to the test. (like last year) The point is that this information should have been included on the agenda.  It is my hope that the students have already been identified and the parents are on board and fully aware of when and why this tutoring will take place.   (It should be noted that I agree with Mr. Glenn Garrison that the same teachers who failed to teach the students the information and strategies needed to pass the test should NOT be paid extra to tutor them.)
A@E Testing
Mrs. Shirley Smith objected to A@E Test Proctors being paid the $30 hourly wage. I too, wonder where this is coming from. This type of testing is generally done by guidance. Are these out of town students? Regardless of where the students are now, the testing task should be completed by guidance during the school day. There is no logical reason for this added expense.
Outsourcing of Staff
Now to the really wild stuff. Why was the RFP left off the agenda? Take a wild guess. Of course. You are right. They did not want all of the secretaries, nurses, or paraprofessionals present when they voted to outsource their jobs. This vote was a unanimous YES. Why? These are the lowest paid employees in the district. Leen Mosley spoke up again in a very informed and concerned way about outsourcing these positions. Her concerns were valid, should be taken seriously by the BOE and should be heard by more parents in the entire community.  Very Sneaky, BOE.
Grieco School and Parental Visitations
Lastly.  What the heck is going on at Grieco School? It seems that parents are not welcome. Why do parents have to request permission or ask policy of the board of education regarding visiting their child's classrooms? What is being hidden at Grieco? Parents cannot get straight answers about what is being done about the school's failing status. I also have questions regarding this. What, if anything is being done to bring up the Math/literacy levels of students in Grieco School?