Parent and taxpayer response

JUST SAY WHEN ...TO ANYONE SAYING YOU HAVE NO SAY IN YOUR CHILDREN'S EDUCATION. We are Citizens for Public School Education. We are Board Watchers. We want a Board of Education that follows the Law, because following the Law works for everyone. The purpose of this site is to help close the controversial Achievement Gap that is the subject in many educational arenas. Teachers are invaluable when dedicated individuals and are entrusted to encourage, nurture, and teach each child to achieve to the best of his/her individual abilities. Principals, Superintendents, Business Administrators, Support Staff, School Board Members, Attorneys and everyone else in the district must be dedicated to making certain that teachers have whatever they need in order to perform at their best. Teachers must be willing to go the extra mile like millions have done before them. This blog promotes an active, accurate & objective telling of history that includes ALL cultures and their literary, cultural and historical contributions to building America. We are Board Watchers.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Our Schools Are In Crisis: Where Do Broken Promises Go?


Promises, Promises, Promises
The Referendum of 2004. Has it been closed out yet? Did we get everything we paid for? Are they ready to shove another one down our throats? Take a look at  the referendum of 2004 and refresh your memories. Keep in mind that some of the same people that are glad ragging each other about their accomplishments in facilities construction and maintenance are the ones that sold us on the referendum and the promises.
They knew what the Community wanted, so they promised it to them and then proceeded to do exactly what they wanted.



"The Englewood Public School district can only issue objective factual information. We trust the following facts will help Englewood Residents make informed decisions when voting on Tuesday, March 9th."

I was one of those voters on Tuesday, March 9, 2004. I voted for the referendum, because I believed the things promised in the referendum. I was raising my sister's 2 children and knew first hand that the promised improvements would make life better for my niece and nephew. This document was saved as many others have been saved. We have not forgotten. The people of Englewood must begin to remember the many promises. It is our only salvation. Read the FACTS as presented by the Board of Education and see for yourselves how much each homeowner paid per month for the promises in the Referendum of 2004. We don't need Dr. Carlisle or the people who were responsible for these promises shoving anymore garbage down our throats about facilities. We want the promises that were broken to be repaired. When we vote on April 17, 2012, we must remember the promises that have been made over the years. There comes a time when broken promises become plain old fashioned lies.

Click on the links below and read in order the Board of Education Newsletter that outlines the Bond Referendum of 2004.

Page 1 Myths and Facts about The March 9th Englewood Public Schools Bond Referendum
Page 2 of Myths and Facts
Page 3..Now they use other towns as examples (Go figure. They should emulate other things from them)
And now to the promises...
Page 4 Englewood Public Schools Newsletter: March 9th Bond Referendum School Highlights
https://acrobat.com/app.html#d=Yrvwi*KhkgOhN9pnCA3iFg

Grieco is a large, beautiful school, but how many of you have actually enjoyed all of those added recreational features that were promised?

                                   How are the children?

Excuses, Excuses and Too Many Broken Promises!

Equity and Excellence money is gone...May we move on now. Enough is Enough!

March 29, 2012...Another Budget Meeting
Dr. Carlisle and the Business Administrator played tag team. It was interesting that they were on stage and above the Board of Education. This forced members of the board to turn around and look up to them whenever they were not clear on an item or issue. It presented an awkward picture that basically mirrors the awkwardness that has taken control of our district.

Based on the reaction of the Board, on certain issues, they have not read the Annual Preliminary Budget's supporting documents.  It is also very interesting that there seems to be a role reversal in relation to Carlisle and the Board. He clearly tells them what to do. The tail is wagging the dog. He doesn't want an assistant superintendent so they are not looking to hire one. It was suggested that someone from within the district should be  promoted. They did not seem amenable.  Carlisle suggested that there are several people who fill the role as his assistant. He did not reveal any names. So what happens when he is not present? Who is in charge? Is it a committee of people who give him advice or assistance. Call me silly, but that is not acceptable. It sounds like more of the same behavior which signifies poor planning and work organization. It is more than obvious that Curriculum and Instruction is not his strong suit. It is clear to me that the man needs help and preferably from a certificated person who has worked in New Jersey and is familiar with Curriculum Development and New Jersey Educational Codes, Statues and Legislation.

It is in the best interest of the children and the district to have an Assistant Superintendent and an Attendance Officer. During the Candidate's forums in 2011 we were promised an Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum & Instruction. This promise was repeated at each Candidate's forum. This promise has been broken like the ones from the last referendum. The referendum that we paid for promised a  lot of things that we still do not have in Englewood. Those promises include a basketball court  at Grieco, science laboratories at JDMS, 2 new science labs at DMHS, new classroom and corridor lighting at DMHS, renovated wood and auto shops at DMHS, a new dance studio at DMHS, a new soccer field at Winton White Stadium, a new illuminated basketball court at Winton White Stadium, and a library media center at Quarles to list a few.  Read for yourself. Where did the money go that was earmarked for the aforementioned facilities improvements that were not implemented?

Perhaps if the board abandoned the $290,000.00 idea of a maintenance shed/garage/office building it would free up more money to be used in a way that clearly impacts student achievement. Far too much talk is of brick and mortar and too little talk and action is of student achievement. The assignment of an Assistant Superintendent in charge of Curriculum and Instruction and an Attendance Officer clearly puts the welfare of the children first above the maintaining of buildings and machines. Everything that is done to improve facilities should be designed to improve the achievement of all students. More attention continues to be given to students from outside our town than to our own homegrown children. When will the stakeholders be made aware of the long range plan concerning St. Cecilia, the space beneath the stands at the football stadium and the lush green patch of land in the flood hazard area? 

No one mentioned the fact that the Board has clearly earmarked a $25,000.00 bonus for the school year 2012-2013 for Carlisle. How do we anticipate giving him a bonus in these hard times? There is no evidence that  he has done anything special for the children. Since his arrival he has demonstrated an affinity towards single parents (women especially). If the outsourcing threat goes through he will have deprived single women of  their jobs and raised their taxes at the same time. How is that for Cowboy justice?
In one of his many off hand statements, he alluded to the fact that other districts are resorting to half day kindergarten in order to save money and that we ought to be glad that he isn't suggesting that as an alternative here in Englewood.

I will have a lot more confidence in this board when they demonstrate that they understand the relationship between the board of education and the Superintendent. I am still waiting to see his contract, his evaluation for the past year, goals and objectives that were created specifically for Englewood students..

I will not belabor the point further. Follow these links and read the figures and supporting documents for a Budget that you must vote on April 17, 2012.


FYI: Sometimes global learning begins within your own state or even county.  Perhaps a clear understanding of how our neighbors do things might actually help us when we jump to other continents. Use the links in the attached document to discover how other towns in NJ evaluate their teachers and principals. Note that Englewood does not list an evaluation method for teachers or principals. This is consistent with there not being one for the Superintendent.

                                           How are the children?

Are Our Schools In Crisis: What is Board Watch?

People all over America are beginning to question the actions of school board members and members of other boards that are curators of public entities. The general public has questions regarding transparency. It is of utmost importance that school boards observe the rules of the "Open Public Meetings Act" or the Sunshine Law. Boards that spend triple the amount of time in closed session as in public sessions are being held accountable as to what secrets they are keeping from the public that finances their activities. All over America citizens have set up programs that monitor the actions of school boards and other boards that supposedly function by using public funds.

Donald K. Carlisle
When board members depend on others to learn and do what the New Jersey School Board Association expects of them, problems arise. For instance, some districts abdicate all responsibility for decisions to the Superintendent. They leave it all up to the Superintendent. If he does something they don't like or if he does not achieve the desired results, he is simply fired.

This type of board puts the children, the parents and the community in the hands of one man. Many one man boards across the state of New Jersey have been secretly giving money to Superintendents at an alarming rate per year. Our Town Board of Education is guilty of this same behavior. (page 20, 28, )We cannot afford to allow this type of chicanery to continue. They must be put on notice that eyes are open and watching. They must be thrown in the doghouse when they are found to hold their own and the interests of special groups above that of the students. It has been documented that Ethics violation charges very often amount to a little more than a slap on the wrist. Publicizing and telling the public about the deeds speak to character weaknesses that may affect them in their day jobs as well.  Let it be so.

A+ Schools is the most comprehensive and formal of the Board Watch organizations that I have explored.
http://www.aplusschools.org/good_over2.shtml
Board Watch is a grassroots effort involving volunteers who are trained to observe Pittsburgh Public School Board meetings. These volunteers are informed citizens serving as independent observers and evaluators of the School Board’s governance.
What are the bottom line results that A+ Schools hopes to achieve?
 A strong public school system resulting from an open, transparent, accountable and effective School Board and an informed and engaged community with higher expectations for School Board governance.
How will the School Board be graded?
Each Board Watch observer completes a report for each meeting they attend. The report includes notes on the behaviors they observed and a scaled survey for them to indicate the level to which they agree that they observed good governance practices. The responses to the survey are calculated for each meeting and translated into a grade for each of the five indicators. http://www.aplusschools.org/pdf/reportform.pdf
Good Governance Practices
School Board 101:What is a school board?

I especially like this one. I have even been in contact with the author. I intend to communicate with the authors of other "Board Watches" around the country. 
School Board WatchDog

Follow the links below and discover how other communities are beginning to hold their school board members accountable for their actions or non action.

This school board actually wants a more robust board watchdog
Manatee school board should adopt "watchdog" idea on meetings
Wake County school board member Debra Goldman on becoming the board "watchdog"
Read more here:

School Board Watch St. Cloud
http://schoolboardwatch.wordpress.com/

Hosted by Donna Pinard this show will talk about what is going on in the schools and how the school board deals with many of the issues facing our students. http://www.pegondemand.tv/list.html?category_id=3177

School board watch on youtube: Donna Pinard http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hM75jnyxcKk 

                                                        How are the children?

Thursday, March 29, 2012

New Jersey State Department of Education Seeks two Additional Waiver Requests


Request for Public Comment on Additional NCLB Waiver Opportunity The NJDOE is requesting the following two additional ESEA flexibility waivers: The NJDOE is asking for your comments regarding these two additional waiver requests. A Web page has been set up on the NJDOE Web site to accept your comments at: http://www.state.nj.us/education/grants/nclb/waiver/ or, if you prefer, you may mail a letter to:
Office of Title I,
New Jersey Department of Education,
P. O. Box 500, Trenton, NJ 08625-0500.
Comments will be accepted for approximately two weeks from today.

Please comment on each waiver separately using the comment box at the bottom of each of the waivers. All public comments submitted during the comment period will be promptly read, taken into consideration and submitted to the USDE. On February 9, 2012, the New Jersey Department of Education (NJDOE) received notification that the United States Department of Education (USDE) approved the state's application to waive certain statutory and regulatory requirements of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA). Subsequent to this approval, the USDE issued notice of two additional ESEA flexibilities available to states with approved applications. Prior to submitting its request to the USDE, the state must provide notice and information regarding the waiver request to the public in the manner in which the state customarily provides such notice and information to the public (ESEA section 9401(b)(3)(A)(iii)), such as through a public website.

Specifically, the NJDOE is requesting the following additional ESEA flexibility waivers:
 1. Waiver of Requirements to Determine Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) Sections 1116(a)(1)(A)-(B) and 1116(c)(1)(A) and the corresponding regulations require the NJDOE to determine AYP for all schools and districts. 
 The NJDOE is seeking to waive this requirement. The NJDOE believes that continuing to determine AYP would be inconsistent with the state-developed differentiated recognition, accountability, and support system described in New Jersey's ESEA flexibility request. In particular, New Jersey's approved flexibility request created differentiated categories of schools, identified as Priority, Focus, and Reward schools, based on total school-wide and subgroup academic performance, measures of student growth, and graduation rate. Additionally, New Jersey's model includes the provision of a wide variety of data including school and subgroup-based Annual Measurable Objectives (AMOs) that must be analyzed in all schools for identification of areas of need and the development of improvement plans. This holistic performance assessment is counter to the concept of adequate yearly progress, which viewed student performance on the state assessment as the primary indicator of a school and district's success and did not look at the actual college and career readiness indicators across the school. 
http://www.state.nj.us/education/grants/nclb/waiver/RequirementsDetermine.htm

 2. Waiver of Requirements to Serve and Allocate Funds to Title I Schools in Rank Order of Poverty Sections 1113(a)(3)-(4) and 1113(c)(1) of the ESEA and the corresponding regulations require a district to serve eligible schools under Title I in rank order of poverty and to allocate Title I, Part A funds based on that rank ordering.
The NJDOE is seeking to waive this requirement. Under a waiver, districts would be able to use their Title I, Part A funds to serve a Title I-eligible high school with a graduation rate below 60 percent that the NJDOE has identified as a priority school, even if that school does not rank sufficiently high to be served in accordance with section 1113(a)(3)-(4). This waiver would benefit those high schools identified as the lowest performing in the state even though their poverty percentage may not be as high as other Title I schools that are eligible to be served. The infusion of Title I, Part A funds would enable these high schools to better increase the quality of their instruction and improve the academic achievement of all their students, concurrently increasing their graduation rates.
http://www.state.nj.us/education/grants/nclb/waiver/RequirementsServe.htm

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Stop Throwing Our Administrators Under the Bus!

Stop throwing our Administrators under the bus...
On Thursday, March 15, 2012, Dr. Carlisle openly accused Principal Joseph Bell of being negligent in his duty to parents of students in the Eagle program. Parents in the district did not know that the students from Liberty School are in the process of being moved to St. Cecilia school. They say that it is a temporary move. No long range plan has been revealed to the public. It was not mentioned that a 5 year lease has been signed and voted in by the board on January 19, 2012. This is a  reminder to the Board of Education. You voted to accept the terms of that lease...The one that is on line right now. If you did not know the conditions of the lease, why was it signed and why did you vote yes?

Parents were not happy with the decision to move students now. They wondered why the move was being so rushed. They spoke about the poor condition of the building and that more time should be put into making the building ready. I wonder the same. We had been told that the students would move at the beginning of next school year. Glenn Garrison reminded the parent that she should be glad that they have a better place planned for her child.

Stop throwing our African American Administrators under the bus...
The majority of the audience was extremely aware of the fact that Principal Bell was being blamed for something over which he had no power. He did not have the authority. Permission for a move of that magnitude would come from the Superintendent of Schools in a written directive. The parents deserved a letter home from the Superintendent himself. Principal Bell spoke up for himself, but it was obvious that Dr. Carlisle intends to keep his foot about the neck of the staff in this district. 
Stop throwing our African American Men under the bus...

Mr. Bunch, another parent spoke up for his nephew. It seems his nephew was caught up in an incident in which a BB gun was allegedly used. Other versions of this story allege that this was a child's plastic toy that propelled a plastic projectile of some sort. This young man was placed in the Alternative school without his mother's permission. It seems that we should not be in the business of increasing the number of children who are exiled into the Eagle program. We should commit ourselves to not placing more children there against the will of the child and the parent. We should be about improving the prospects of the children who are already there. Where is the hope? Where is the inspiration? We admire what Dr. Bell has been able to do with the school, but we are also cognizant of the fact that the more children they move out of Dwight Morrow High School, the more children they may bring into the district as School Choice. We shall not allow the displacement of our children in order to accommodate more students of a complexion that suits the board. More attention should be given to what curriculum  is being followed and whether or not the equipment used by the Eagle program will have a place to be set up workshop fashion ready to produce in the new location. We need to see that facilities plans are being implement with the primary object being to increase the level of student achievement throughout the district. If one reads the strange lease signed with St. Cecilia, one understands that this was a facilities decision made because we needed to vacate Liberty School in order to get the rest of the 5.8 million dollars that is being used to help EPSD dig its way out of a financial hole. 

Stop throwing our children under the bus by outsourcing support staff...
Mr. Bunch referred to himself as an African American Man several times.  Glenn Garrison was obviously threatened by this man standing up for himself and his nephew.  He felt it necessary to hold up his flip phone and tape the man's passionate speech.  It is obvious that African American men with degrees and who demonstrate even a little individuality are under attack. It does appear that the board was over zealous in the punishment of this young man. Why? 
Stop throwing our female Administrators under the bus... 
Meanwhile, another item on the agenda was clearly marked as district employee, yet Glenn Garrison proclaimed that 23 lunch aides were stationed at Quarles school. He suggested that some of them should be let go. Marsha Howard, principal of Quarles had to stand and set the record straight. She found herself speaking from beneath the bus. And the board found themselves authors of another communication problem with the principals that run the schools.
Stop pretending you care and get about the job that we are paying you to do. Stop copying and  pasting important information. We caught that one.
Stop playing judge and jury. The punishment should fit the crime.
Do your homework. Take some responsibility for your own actions. It was your responsibility. Focus. Stop trying to get more money than you are worth. Earn cap. You were responsible for the lack of communication with the parents of students in the Eagle Program. 


Board of Education. It is time to evaluate the person you have chosen as Superintendent. The evaluation form should be public. Where is it? I would like to see the criteria that you are using to assess his effectiveness as a Chief School Administrator. You have not demonstrated by word or by deed that you understand that there is a legal process that shall  be followed in dealing with the Superintendent. While you are at it, it really is time to decide exactly what Mr. Hunkin and Mr. Harris are certified to do.

Stop throwing people under the bus. Stop throwing people under the bus. 

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Governor Christie Commits Additional $14.2 Million to Expand School Choice for NJ Families

Number of Students and Districts Participating in the Christie Administration's Interdistrict Choice Program Increases for 2012-13 School Year Governor Commits an Additional $14.2 Million to Expand School Choice for New Jersey Families

Trenton, NJ - Demonstrating a continued commitment to the expansion of the Interdistrict Choice Program, student enrollment in the program has tripled over the past three years to a projected 3,356 students in 73 districts in 2012-13. To support the continued growth of the program, Governor Christie has dedicated an additional $14.2 million for the Interdistrict School Choice program in the FY 2013 state budget, as part of a $212.5 million increase in K-12 state aid and a total of $7.8 billion in K-12 formula aid - the most in New Jersey history. In the current 2011-12 school year, there are 2,131 participating students in 71 districts. For more information: http://www.state.nj.us/education/news/2012/0314choice.htm

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

$14.5 Million Federal Grant to Support Expanding NJ High Quality Charter Schools

Christie Administration Announces $14.5 Million Federal Grant to Support Ongoing Efforts to Expand High-Quality Charter Schools Funding Award furthers Administration's Commitment to Increasing Choice for Students Who Need It Most 

Trenton, NJ - New Jersey is one of three states to be awarded a grant today by the US Department of Education to support the expansion and replication of high-quality charter schools in New Jersey, the Christie Administration announced today. The State will receive nearly $14.5 million through the federal Charter Schools Program to strengthen the quality of charter school options in New Jersey. 

The award recognizes the aggressive work done by the Christie Administration to strengthen accountability for charter schools in the state and therefore improve the quality of options for students. Under the leadership of Governor Christie and Acting Commissioner Chris Cerf, the Department of Education has greatly expanded and improved its Office of Charter Schools - strengthening the charter application process, the rigor and transparency of performance contracts with charter schools, and putting a focus on oversight and accountability for authorized charters. 

For more information: http://www.state.nj.us/education/news/2012/0313grant.htm

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Are Our Schools In Crisis?: Principal Baruti kafele, "Educating Children of Color"

Community organization Day
Networking 'Chat & Chew' Event

Sunday, April 15th, 2012 @The Elks Lodge
17 Bennett Road, Englewood, New Jersey
Doors open 4pm  Admission $10
Project Coordinator: Mr. John Sisco 201-673-7340  
JSiscophoto54@Hotmail.com

Join us for our monthly Community Organization 
Day and help us welcome one of our own excellent educators!

Special keynote Speaker: "Educating Children of Color" featuring Principal Baruti K. Kafele
"Mr. Kafele is on a personal, inspiring, invigorating, thought provoking and candid mission to motivate, educate and empower educators, parents, and children toward the elimination of the "attitude gap." he inspires his audience to expect nothing short of excellence." Mary Goshay
Image source


This is the 2nd meet and greet your organization event sponsored by the Elks Lodge. I like Mr. Samuel Lee, Jr.'s description of the effort. He intimated that we all have so much in common that it is a good idea to learn to play nice in the sandbox. It is a great analogy, because we are divided by so many organizations and agendas that we neglect the work we need to do together.  This is an attempt to pool our efforts so we may all make changes towards success. Everyone is invited to bring business cards. The sandbox is large enough for everyone. We must all pull together to give time and attention to what is really important. Higher Expectations from everyone. The children. Education. The Message. The real estate. Our homes and lives. Where do we go from here?

The links below have been provided for those of you who do not know of Principal kafele's work. I invite you to take a thoroughly informative tour through this educator's life, career and creations all directed towards improving the lives of our children.  You may catch up on his many lectures and publications.
Principal Kafele's Biography
17 Bennett Road
Englewood, New Jersey
http://www.principalkafele.com/biography/
kafele is on Fire!
http://www.principalkafele.com/
Baruti K. Kafele 
Educational Consultant Year Honored: 2009
http://www.mff.org/mea/mea.taf?page=recipient&meaID=23239
@PrincipalKafele
https://twitter.com/#!/principalkafele
Baruti Kafele
http://www.edustat.com/speakers/bkafele.html
Ideal Lodge 470
Temple 290
has a splendid mission!
Motivating Black Males to Succeed
http://www.ascd.org/Publications/Authors/Baruti-Kafele.aspx?id=69934735001&nvid=a9b1
Milken National Educator Award
http://www.state.nj.us/education/clear/teach/milken/09/kafele.htm
Principal Baruti Kafele visits Blount
http://www.state.nj.us/education/clear/teach/milken/09/kafele.htm
Speaker Spotlight: Baruti KafeleThere are three questions that must 
underscore everything we do as educators: Who am I? Why am I? What is my role?
http://ascd.typepad.com/blog/2006/09/baruti_kafele.html
Meet the Awards for Excellence Honorees
http://2011njeaconvention.wordpress.com/tag/baruti-kafele/
How to live with change
http://www.blackfamilyunited.org/how-to-live-the-change/viewvideo/67/parenting/milken-educator-profile-baruti-kafele.html
                                        How are the children?

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

The New QSAC Monitoring System Focuses on Individual Schools & Student Achievement

State Board of Education Adopts Changes to Streamline QSAC Monitoring and to Put Increased Focus on Student Achievement, Health and Safety, and Fiscal Accountability 

 Trenton, NJ - The State Board of Education voted today to streamline the state process for monitoring school districts through amendments to the New Jersey Quality Single Accountability Continuum (QSAC). The changes begin to reduce burdensome compliance and paperwork requirements for districts while focusing on factors that are central to student achievement, health and safety, and fiscal accountability. The changes are part of a larger initiative to remove bureaucratic red tape and focus both state and district resources on what matters most - improving student achievement. 

The Department has committed to continuing to review QSAC to make it a more meaningful improvement tool and to align it with the state's new school-level accountability system outlined in its No Child Left Behind flexibility application, which was approved by the US Department of Education last month. "By adopting these recommendations, we can begin to replace a burdensome system with one that measures what's important. We can eliminate redundancies and free up resources to focus on the needs of all students to provide the highest quality educational experience," State Board President Arcelio Aponte said.


Among others, the changes today include:
  • A reduction in the number of indicators that are self-evaluated by the district and monitored by the New Jersey Department of Education from 334 to 48, which decreases both the time districts spend on compliance and focuses attention on what matter most.
  • The creation of a Statement of Assurance (SOA) that consists of 50 performance quality indicators in the five key component areas of school district effectiveness. The SOA is a self-evaluation tool that districts must complete annually and it will be incorporated as an indicator in each of the five key component areas of the QSAC review that occurs every 3 years. The NJDOE will use the SOA in the intervening years of the QSAC cycle to provide technical assistance to the district on areas where they have identified a deficiency in the SOA.
  • The elimination of duplicative monitoring performed by the department and within the DPRs. For example, the DPRs no longer include monitoring of financial reports that are submitted to the NJDOE annually and no longer include financial management information already monitored through the budget review process.
  • A focus on student growth in the evaluation of student achievement measures, rather than simply a review of whether a district met a certain proficiency level.


In its interim report in September, the Education Transformation Task Force identified a number of deficiencies in the current QSAC process. Among others, the report outlined how QSAC focuses on district “capacity” rather than student performance; that the information provided under current QSAC regulations is inconsistent, unreliable, and fails to distinguish between very different districts; that it has failed to drive district improvement; and that it overlaps and at times contradicts the state’s school-level accountability system.
The changes approved today will take effect immediately for districts undergoing a QSAC review this year.


For more information:
http://www.state.nj.us/education/news/2012/0307qsac.htm

Saturday, March 3, 2012

EPSD votes Yes on 1% Tax Levy

March 1, 2012: Englewood Board of Education votes on Preliminary Budget


Dr. Carlisle and the Business Administrator were to present a more fleshed out version of the budget tonight. This was the second Public Budget Meeting.  They were like 2 students who had not completed their homework. Dr. Carlisle made a presentation of what to expect from the completed budget. This article was basically constructed of the notes I took. My thoughts are in red.

8 Turnaround Principles
1. climate and culture - He said that when he came here there was a lot of negativity. The middle school was in chaos, the high school was dysfunctional and order was needed. He thinks the bridge program did a lot to alleviate that. He said that there are now receptionists in every building for welcoming parents. He admits that the website has to be improved and that he is currently encouraging Caryn Furst to get more stuff in there. He wants her to sell the product. (When I signed up for the new digital newsletter some of the schools were left off the list when the prompt asked for the relationship to the schools. DMHS was not there as a choice, neither was the Eagle or Bridge programs.)
2. Principal Leadership - Dr. Carlisle defended the decision to move Principals
  • Dwight Morrow High School - P. Elbert to the high school. He said that he was a good fit because he already knew the children. He credits his move to the high school as changing the climate there. He said that they are blending the two sides of the campus together, it is not perfect, but they are working on it. Students report that the bells are ringing now. That is a positive. It is difficult to ascertain just how effective Mr. Elbert is since Dr. Carlisle is on premises. It is a strange arrangement. Regardless of what Dr. Carlisle says, it seems a strained arrangement. The community does not see the fact that Mr. Elbert knows the children as a positive. These are the same students that were in his care when he was removed from principal of the middle school because it was a failing school.
  • Janis E. Dismus Middle School - He praised Lamar Thomas and his leadership at Janis E. Dismus Middle School. He said that he has not gotten a single complaint out of the middle school since Lamar took over. It should be noted here that Mr. Thomas was not first choice. A woman from NYC declined the job after attending a meeting with parents this summer. Mr. Thomas was slated to be Assistant Principal. He stepped up to the plate and is doing the job. We are still waiting for the resolution that will make Mr. Thomas Principal. It is obvious that the  climate of the school has improved. The attitude, school spirit and self esteem seems much healthier.
  • Superintendent's Office At High School - He reminded us that his office has also moved to the 2nd floor at the high school. He reports that everything has changed on that floor under his watchful eye.
  • Quarles Early Childhood Learning Center - He asserted that this was the best fit for Marsha Howard. He suggested that she does well with this age group.
3. Quality of Instruction - 
4. Standards based curriculum He spoke vaguely about the Common Core State Standards and suggested to Glenn Garrison that either his state or his did not adopt it. By the way, it was Dr. Carlisle's home state of Texas and not Glenn Garrison's home state of North Carolina, that did not adopt the Common Core State Standards. He mentioned that "Core Certification" would be tied to assessments.
5. Effective use of data
  • He talked about the book Driven by Data: A Practical Guide to Improve Instruction that he
    distributed to all principals and the Board of Education earlier in the school year. 
  • He did not mention how he had used any Data Driven information to determine how to structure the budget so as to maximize student achievement.
6. Effective staffing practices
  • . He mentioned that they had to use better Job Descriptions
  •   Supervision had to be provided
  •   The Boost - He said that he had given the district a boost when he came but now it is time to pull   back.
7.  Academically focused family and community engagement - He mentioned that he had challenged students to perform better on the standardized tests than Teaneck students. Teaneck was chosen because of the close proximity.  He said that they have to start treating the youngsters like our own children.
8.  Redesigning of School time - We have to use time more wisely. He said that some of the new faces we were introduced to last year would not be around next year. Class size in Quarles was compared to that of private schools and that the classes would be larger next year.  He suggested that there would be changes in the classes at DMHS and the Alternative School. Program. There was no explanation as to what this meant.

This year's New Buzz Words and Phrases
Not Just What you spend...but it is how well it is spent...Changing the way the money is spent is by far the most important means of actually changing the behavior of schools and the school systems. He talked of a meeting with Acting Commissioner Cerf and how he was impressed by his cabinet.

The Business Administrator took over and repeated a story that loosely detailed our Funding History. It seems that Englewood was spoiled because they got used to the Equity and Excellence money from the state that was used to fund the Academy. Spending was not 
adjusted to compensate for the end of this money. 
She presented some base assumptions - 
  • Student enrollment is flat and would remain so
  • Continue Majority of the programs
  • Operations Cost were increasing
  • The move from Liberty - They did not talk about that crazy lease signed with St. Cecilia
  • Charter School Represents a cost increase of 785,000
  • Contracts with 3 bargaining units coming up
  • $270,000 grant program is ending and they wish to keep the program (they did not identify program)
  • Health Benefits increasing
  • Fuel and Energy Cost increasing
  • Facilities and infrastructures (She noted that she was impressed with the way the facilities looked. I don't know what she expected.)
  • Staff resource levels -  (We assume this means the extra teachers that we picked up last year who had not been provided for in the 2011 - 2012 budget. They did not specifically mention the outsourcing of anyone. The rumor was that secretaries, aides, substitutes, and even the child study team would be outsourced. This seems like something that should have been included if it will truly happen.)
  • Alter work schedules (This was not explained)
  • A better management of "extra duty" stipends  (no elaborations here)
She said that the focus in 2012 - 2013 would be on Creating the New Normal  This New Normal would involve a reduction in expenditures in order to regain surplus. She said that down the road we would recoup our money from the tax increase. She repeated that the key is how well you spend the money.
She gave us another calendar schedule detailing the timeline for submission of the budget to the state and preparing it for the vote in April. 
  • 3/1 Adopt Budget
  • 3/2 Submit formal state document
  • 3/22 Get approval from the County office
  • 2/29 public hearing 2012 -2013 Budget
  • 3/30 Last day to present Budget to the County
  • 4/17 Vote on the Budget by the public
At this point Dr. Carlisle diverted attention to the public (less than 10 people) to an explanation of how Rosemary Seitel presented the Technology Committee at February 23 meeting in his absence. He repeated the correction of the Library specialist's data pertaining to the number of books to students throughout the district. He apologized for the low number of books to students at DMHS. He said that the library is humming with activity from both sides of the campus. A visiting speaker supposedly commented that, "the students were the most focused and well behaved students of any school she has been in." He attributed this to our "circle of colors" as they relate to student behavior. (I don't know what that means)

Privilege of the floor was opened and Mr. Popkin wanted to know what the board was signing tonight.
He held last year's budget in his hand and asked how costs had been reduced through retirement. Mr. Popkin was very specific in his questions and Dr.  Carlisle, the BA and the Board were extremely vague. They grew annoyed with him and there was a little shouting. Mr. Popkin accused them of bullying and Dr. Carlisle accused that old man of bullying. Dr. Carlisle basically suggested that school boards should not have to put up with people from the public who insist on having their questions answered. Mr. Popkin was at the heart of the matter They should have just admitted that they were voting tonight because of the timeline for submission above. The presentation had an awful lot to be desired in terms of detail. We had no better idea of how the money would be spent than before we came. There were also inconsistencies. They told Mr. Popkins that there were no line items. Later on, after privilege of the floor, they said the board had seen the line items.

This is how the Board of Education Voted on the 1% tax Levy.
Lubarr..........No
In time we will catch up?
Smith............No
Brown..........No
Pruitt............Yes
Mark...........Yes
Diaz.............Yes
Garrison III.....Yes
Garrison...........Yes
Ungar...............Yes

Leaving the board this year are 
Miriam Lubarr and  Shirley Smith.
Henry Pruitt is running for office again in April. Why did he vote for a 1% tax levy?
Meanwhile, we were befuddled. The New Normal cannot possibly be put to paper before the final document is submitted to the County for approval. They don't even have any figures yet. Dr. Carlisle's contract is also part of the budget. We hope it does not complicate things like it did last year. I have never voted against a school budget. I guess I always just trusted that the board knew what they were doing. I no longer feel the same about that. The is always a first time for everything.


                                                How are the children?

Friday, March 2, 2012

Aggressive Oversight of Charter Schools

Department of Education Continues Aggressive Oversight of Charter Schools to Ensure Students are Getting Results

Results Trenton, NJ - Continuing the Christie Administration's commitment to aggressively oversee charter schools operating throughout the state, the Department of Education today announced the renewal of 16 existing charter schools for additional 5 year charter terms and the closure of 2 charters that have chronically failed to produce acceptable results for their students. Under the Christie Administration, the Department of Education has put a renewed focus and commitment on ensuring that the state's charter schools are of the highest quality and held to high standards of accountability, including swiftly addressing low-performing schools through corrective and remedial actions and closing those that are not effective.

For further information: http://www.state.nj.us/education/news/2012/0302