Parent and taxpayer response

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Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Special Public Board Meeting on the Budget?

March 11, 2013 Special School Board Meeting

Online Agenda link to tonight's meeting

District Employees in attendance: 
Dr. Donald Carlisle, Superintendent
Dr. Michele James, Assistant Superintendent
Dr. Noel Gordon - Guidance - Curriculum & Instruction
Rosemary Seitel - (Dr. Gordon's Assistant?)
Jeff White - Principal at Grieco Elementary School
Anita Shemesh - Co - President of the Englewood Teacher's Association
Carlos the technician
Carol Feinstein - Candidate for Board
Junius F. Carter - Candidate for Board
Leen DeWeerd Mosley - Parent
David Popkin - resident and DMHS graduate
Curtis Caviness - resident and DMHS graduate
Lucy D. Walker - resident, grandmother and DMHS graduate
The Press: The Suburbanite: Stephanie Noda (also a resident)

Superintendent's Report
We were reminded that there is no "projected"  financial crisis like the one in 2012. We are apparently not living off our savings anymore. He admitted that they went on a spending spree and the spree is over...(That was good to hear.) He advised us that if we were expecting handouts that we were at the wrong board meeting. We were assured that they were compliant with state mandates. He suggested that they have decided to try something different without a lot of educational jargon this year. One wonders what this new strategy might include. (Last year's educational jargon came down from the Federal and State Governments and has not been tried here. It is just as well. It does not seem to work in districts that are under the yoke. Can't wait to see what we do differently this year. We heard pretty much the same thing last year this time.) Dr. Carlisle said that this new "something: should have been tried years ago. He spoke of the safety precautions being considered for the different school buildings in Englewood.

The Business Administrator and Glenn Garrison went to the podium. Glenn explained the budget process. Yes. You heard right.  A Board Member who is running for re-election for a 4th term explained the budget process. It was another unpaid political announcement that was clearly meant for the press and thoroughly inappropriate. The Business Administrator stood silently while Glenn Garrison did the job that we pay her to do. How many years does Mr. Garrison have to be on the Board of Education before he learns what a Board Member does? Is it confusion or arrogance. After 9 years neither is acceptable. Seems he should take advantage of some more training at the New Jersey School Boards Association. That explanation should have come from Maria Engeleit, the six figure district employee. Mr. Glenn Garrison should have remained in his seat along with the other Board Members and listened to the well paid Business Administrator earn her salary.

A quick perusal of the agenda revealed 5 items on which action was taken.
1.  Approval - Purchased Services 2012 - 2013
They voted unanimously to hire a Dr. John Nolan as a Human Resources Consultant on an as needed and emergent basis at $425 per day, not to exceed $30,000. The Director of Human Resources is out on Medical Leave. It should be noted that in most districts, and at one time in Englewood, the head of the personnel department is/was an Assistant Superintendent.

2. Approval - Professional Development Plan - 2012 - 2013  Tab 1
Board Members spoke overlong about the necessity of the Professional Development Plan. It was a great deal of talk that added no real or even new information that was not already included in the agenda. We want to hear from the people we and Board Members pay to get the job done. We want to be dazzled by the brilliance of Dr. Carlisle and Dr. James, not by Henry Pruitt III, Harley Ungar, George Garrison and Stephen Brown. The salaried personnel should give the explanation. More precise and clear objectives and expected outcomes from the Professional Development Activity would have been more effective. It would have also been great to see that they are actually following the mandate of developing School and District Professional Development Committees. Perhaps it might be helpful if more people became "watchdogs" of the Englewood Board of Education. We are working on that.

Below is information that will be helpful for parents and residents. We must begin to include ourselves.

Instructions concerning Professional Development plans were sent to all Chief School Administrators and School Principals by Peter Shulman, Assistant Commissioner/Chief Talent Officer PS Division of Teacher and Leader Effectiveness in December of 2012.

A Guidance Document for the School Professional Development Plan
I have been waiting for the announcement of which employees sit on the School Professional Development Committee for some time. I have not seen that this even exists. I am no longer waiting. Click the link that follows for the School Professional Development Commmittee Profile and Sign-off sheet.

A Guidance Document for the District Professional Development Plan
It would be great to know who sits on this committee also. It would also be great to see that the directions given on the state website are being followed.

County Professional Development Board Rubric - Assessment of Professional Development is key if one wants to have a successful program. This is true of all programs in the district. It is also a weakness in the district that severely impacts the academic success of the students. This must be fixed.

Visit this page at the New Jersey Department of Education for the Professional Development for Teachers Initiative.
Visit this page for Professional Learning Communities Resources for Educators and examine available samples of tools available for teachers. Knowing what is available helps parents pose more relevant questions. 
Question: Are the Board Members filling the positions of School and District Professional Development Committee People?

3. Approval - Amended Settlement Agreement - BOE AND DT o/b/o JT. We had no idea what this item was. Stephen Brown did not read it off and explain it as he generally does. While one is thankful for that, one still wonders what this is. Since a copy is available from the BA, one might make use of the OPRA process. Just saying. (Page 3 of 4)

4. FINANCE - Adoption of a Preliminary Budget For the 2013-2014 School year. 
We did not see a budget. It was resolved that the Board of Education adopt a preliminary budget in the amount of $66,006,414 for the 2013-2014 school year. That was it. It took an awful lot of work and forethought to do that. This action was clearly an after thought. A Special meeting on the budget was called so they could give us an amount. Geez!

5. Approval - E- Chalk Contract - This action awards a contract to eChalk in the amount of $34,120.00 for the provision of Web Hosting (for the school district website) and for the email services to the district beginning July 1, 2013 and ending June 30, 2014.

Tacked onto the eChalk resolution was the resolution that EPSD now participate in the E-Rate Program administered by the Universal Services Administrative Company under the auspices of the Federal Communications Commission. Many districts across the country have already gotten grants or discounts from the federal government through this program that aids school districts in paying technology costs.   It is great to see this now included here. The Tech/Core Initiative is not totally unfunded once a closer look is given.
Funds for Learning.       
The Universal Service Administrative Company website.

Other online information that we should know  - It will involve all children beginning 2014 -2015
PARCC - Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers(PARCC) is a consortium of 22 states plus the U.S. Virgin Islands working together to develop a common set of K-12 assessments in English and math anchored in what it takes to be ready for college and careers. (The Online Test makers)

Item and Task Prototypes - The PARCC sample items and tasks can and should be viewed as one of the many types of materials educators can use during the transition to the Common Core State Standards and PARCC. In addition to educators, students and parents may also find the sample items and tasks to be a useful resource for learning more about the Common Core State Standards and how state assessments may appear in the future.

Consortium for School Networking (CoSN)

All items were accepted with unanimous votes of yes. Why was the meeting on Monday, the 11th instead of on Thursday, the 14th? Why was this a special meeting? 
                             How are the children?