Parent and taxpayer response

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Saturday, March 2, 2013

Election Time and the Board Is Trying to Appear Nice To Residents?

Englewood Public School District - School Board Meeting, February 28, 2013


The Superintendent's Report - was all about Technology. It was hard to cover up the fact that the district is playing catch up. While surrounding districts have Technology plans and are squarely dealing with getting ready for online testing Englewood is still struggling under the weight of the decision to Outsource Paraprofessionals and Secretaries.

It is a marvel that our Board still seems unable to release control of the District to a Superintendent for whom they have risked the withholding of State Aid. One wonders if there is a "guardian angle" somewhere protecting this board from state reprisal. Perhaps our budget is much too small to garner the attention of the Regulators from the state.

The 10 Finger Method will prepare students to type without
thinking about the technology. It worked on us.
It still works
Dr. Carlisle suggested that we have 1,800 computers in the district. It seems that these are varying types and models of computers so this number still leaves us short of having enough to accomplish the task of  online testing in 2014 -2015. There was too much talk about the technology and absolutely no talk about the fact that Information Technology is part of the curriculum now that 3rd graders will be tested online beginning 2014. This is consistent with the fact that Curriculum seldom gets the attention that is required to increase student achievement and to close the GAP that has created a FOCUS designation in Englewood. Dr. Carlisle suggested that the District is moving to a single platform in computer software and his idea was bandied around the board with members actually disagreeing with his logic. It is uncharacteristic of a School Board to disagree with a person that they insist on overpaying. One would think that they would value his opinion, since we are paying dearly for his expertise.

1 month, 6 weeks and 45 days before School Board Elections and weirdness is setting in. It was made quite clear that it is election time and that 3 incumbents are running for re-election. There were no threats to cut Kindergarten or to suspend our right to speak at Board meetings.  Most of us were even allowed to exceed our normally allotted 3 minutes in which to speak during privilege of the floor. There was no mention of how they feel about teachers that they have accused of being unreasonable, because they still have no contract. Board Member Glenn Garrison even demonstrated that he knows that monies collected at games and so forth must go back into the general fund. Now they know how things work. Gee whiz. It was hilarious since most of those in attendance represented the press and people employed by the Board of Education. It was an overlong wasted drama.

The Union President and a Teacher gave a very warm welcome to a young student in remission from leukemia and his parents. M. Tabakin, who attended the meeting with his right arm in a sling, was visibly and emotionally touched.  Such a public display of emotion is not characteristic of the full time handsomely and overpaid Board Attorney.

Stephen Brown, the Board President made a very long speech about no longer sharing Information Technology services with the City. The protest was much too long and was in direct opposition to the speech that Mr. Dacey, the City Manager gave at the workshop meeting of the City Council. Regardless of how the cookie crumbles, the school district was fired by the City. Only Mr. Skurnick, the 3rd Ward Councilman voted no on the decision to end the sharing agreement. This was no surprise. The School Board Members are his friends and neighbors.

The new found amiability did not conceal the fact that 5 staff members resigned their positions. It was suggested that perhaps teachers are not happy in the district. This was denied of course and the fake calm decorum of the board was interrupted as the President warned the parent that she would not be allowed to disrupt the proceedings. The parent persisted and she was right. It does seem that this board is much nicer to employees as they are leaving the district. The Board was reminded that they had tried to fire this same teacher a little over a year ago. They were not at all happy when they made this attempt. The community and other staff members came out to support Mr. Stackhouse back then. He was the only teacher listed as Highly Qualified, yet they were hell bent on firing him. Why? Who knows? Now we have lost another fine African American Male example. Our young men have one less example that looks like them.

It was near midnight and it should be noted that the Board still adjourned and went into closed session. It is a mystery as to why they insist on over taxing the Superintendent, Assistant Superintendents, Principals and the Administrative Assistants in such an insane way. They must all report to work in the morning while most of the Board Members have control of their own hours. It makes no sense. Much time could be saved by the Board President speaking less and the Board keeping all actions to matters of policy, instead of on running the district. This practice is so ingrained in the district that most people think this is the way a board is supposed to run. It is hoped that the residents remember the actions of the Board in the last year and that the 3 incumbents will be sent on their way this year as they have sent so many district employees on their way.

  • Food service has been outsourced to Pomptonian for many years. No more turkey squares.
  • Custodial Services have been outsourced to Pritchard. (the young man who allegedly killed a mother and her child worked for Pritchard.) More oversight on persons working for outside companies is needed.
  • Secretaries, Substitute and Guidance Services have been outsourced to Mission One. (There have been actually physical fighting among these "independent contractors" and one incident was described to the Board this night. The students were required to call for help because of this altercation.) Other "independent contractors" filling the position formerly call "secretarial" have been fired.
  • Paraprofessional, lunch aides, bus aides have been outsourced to Delta T. There have been complaints of no bus aides on Special Education buses. (In Paterson, a child was killed as she jumped or was pushed from a moving Special Education bus. When will someone make it clear that children must be kept safe as priority? 6A:27-5.1  Parents must really begin to make more noise by raising their voices in support of their children.)
  • Curriculum Development has been neglected for nearly 15 years.
  • Testing of Students has been privatized. (Yes. Really.)
  • Where is the Technology Plan (part of the curriculum) that is to prepare students for online testing that is right around the corner?
  • Where is the Information that should have been distributed to the Parents regarding the classification of Dwight Morrow High School as a FOCUS School?
  • Where is the Fee Schedule used in the rental of District School Buildings?
  • Where is the District Leadership? 
  • Where are the Goals & Objectives developed jointly with the Superintendent to be utilized in increasing the achievement and closing the GAP among students?
  • Where is the Superintendent's Evaluation?
Board Members were never meant to serve multiple terms indefinitely. This is the reason there are elections every year. Organizations funded and controlled by "Special Interest" groups were never supposed to control non-partisan school boards. School Board Members swear to uphold the Constitution of the State of New Jersey and the United States of America. No other swearings or allegiances are even legal and are in actuality Ethics Violations. 18A:12-24.1