Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Highlights: Englewood Board of Education Meeting August 18, 2011

The meeting started at 6:30. I arrived late, others in our group were in attendance since the beginning. The board had taken a break in order to go across the street and inspect the work on Winton White Stadium.We sat with a 30 page agenda wondering how we were ever going to get through all of the items. One board member was absent. Dr. Carlisle's Superintendent's report was shortened slightly. He omitted the section where he is usually unfriendly to the public. He gave an update on the work beneath Winton White Stadiuim. Richard Bennett, supervisor of the stadium project was introduced.

Beneath the Stadium
7,200 square feet of useable space.
Wetlands: This lush green
area  will  soon be
4 locker rooms for multiple team sports,
Offices for Coaches and  trainers
An autonomous room independent of rest of the building.
An independent training room.
A first aid room,
A snack bar
A press box in the stands to facilitate filming of games
The facility is supposedly 80% complete. He spoke of a shortage of materials as a reason for apparent delays. It seems they were keeping us on a need to know basis with this project. When my grandchild complains of not having paper and books, I need to know. How about you? Thank your luck stars that there is no 3 tier parking garage.

Singapore Math Training & The Responsive Classroom
Driven by Data: A Practical Guide to Improve InstructionDr. Carlisle spoke briefly about the Singapore Math program and invited parents and community members to attend the next training session to be held 8/29 - 9/2. This link contains important information for parents who might want to help kids keep up at home. It is intended for homeschooling parents. He introduced Lisa Finn Bruce and referred to her as his partner. She talked about The Responsive Classroom Program. She mentioned social interaction of students, a morning meeting, encouraging positive teacher language and a positive approach to student discipline. We have included links to the Responsive Classroom site in other posts, click here to visit.  Become familiar with the site. It contains information that will  help you understand what is going on in your child's school.

The Reading Assignment
Dr. Carlisle gave the school board a reading assignment. Driven By Data.  He gave each board member a copy of the book to read. (I wonder who paid for the books. At least one remained on the table when the BOE adjourned and left the room.) Just in case they were not sufficiently insulted, I was insulted for them. He continues to train the Board of Education. They continue to ignore the fact that they are required by state law to have one of the school board members be a liasion to the New Jersey School Board Association. This is where they are required by law to get their training, not from a CE Chief School Administrator who needs a mentor simply to function in the position he holds. Why is the BOE allowing this? Why was this book presented to them in the public meeting? What is he trying to say to us? Don't get me wrong, the book seems like a good reference for teachers, principals and even Superintendents. The fact remains that the school board members are systematically resisting the New Jersey School Board training that is mandated by state law. This book is clearly NOT a training manual for school board members. It makes a good resource for Dr. Carlisle.

Containing the Children -
Dr. Carlisle spoke of a fence being down somewhere on the DMHS campus and how important it was to keep the kids in. It sounded rather like they were being imprisoned, so he said they were just being kept inside the fence. Funny, I've never thought of DMHS as being fenced in. That wide open front lawn gives the welcome appearance of an open campus. Motivate them with a challenging curriculum and teachers who care and they will be inspired to stay in without coersion.

Superintendent's office & Deans
It was announced that his office is now on the 2nd floor of DMHS and that there are now Deans. These Deans were described as quasi-administrators, which is problematic since the word administrator implies dominion over teachers. Real Administrators must have additional certifications. This is no surprise since only one of EPSD's staff members has been publicly identified as highly qualified. Teaneck was marked down on the QSAC because they have Teacher Deans. They are in no way considered administrators, quasi or otherwise. Oh, and I thought we already had hall monitors. I take it Englewood teachers are not assigned hall duty. Lucky, Lucky. More time for preparation?

Culinary Arts Program 
This course of study is not in the budget. A kitchen must be created in which the class will be taught. I am not saying that this should not be taught, but that the teacher must be certified and the course must be approved. So did anything get State approval yet? The Title must be approved by the state. The course and curriculum must also be approved. Where is the curriculum? Who is going to write it? Will there be a curriculum? The teacher that this program was tailor made for must also go back to school and earn the 30 credits towards the standard certification that is required. She has 2 years to accomplish this. The taxpayer is basically going to pay for the training of an unqualified person to become qualified to teach while the person is teaching our children. We hope that the district is going to put together a mentoring program to train this teacher as well as all of the other new hires that do not hold standard certifications. Parents, remember that NCLB allows you to  legally question the certification of your child's teacher without repraisal. It is way past time to ask questions. Do you have any questions?
Family and consumer sciences: Foods, nutrition and food science: This endorsement authorizes the holder to teach nutrition, individual and family food preparation, food science, managing time and resources related to food preparation, and exploration of careers in foods and nutrition related occupations.
6A:9-9.1 Authorizations – general - pages 124 - 125
Special Education & Alternative School
He alluded to  the fact that Special Education students were coming back to the district. Exactly what does this mean? He also said that they were moving right along with the Alternative School for middle school students. This school already has 16 students with 2 parents saying no to the idea. Has this school been approved by the state yet? State law says an Alternative School must be housed in a separate facility and have different staff and administrators than the regular school. It has very specific instructions for Alternative Education Programs. Has the program been approved by the state? Is our board of education leaving itself open to 16 lawsuits?
6A:16-9.1 Establishment of alternative education programs
6A:16-9.2 Program criteria
6A:16-9.3 Student placements

Spending the money
21 new hires were presented to the board of education. Dr. Carlisle made his same excuse about not being able to find African American teachers.This writer wonders where the money is coming from since these new hires were not included in the budget. They are also not included in the Master Schedule. It was August 18th. Surely the Master Schedule has already been made. The schedule is generally made in May or June. Where are all of these new teachers going? Approximately 35 teachers left at the end of the year. Those 35 were replaced long ago. These are extras. Where is the money coming from? Are they even needed?

The Threats Continue
To top it off  he threatened the new young teachers. He said that if anyone decided to take a job closer to home after accepting one in Englewood that  he would call the new Superintendent and tell what they did. Now was that necessary? Dr. Carlisle is known for making threats. The nurses spoke up for themselves at a meeting and at the next meeting he threatened to outsource nurses. This is an interesting almost Chief School Administrator we have here. We are losing state aid in order to keep him and pay him over CAP. He talked about an Assistant Superintendent search, but I see no evidence that a search is being conducted. I was impressed with only one new hire. He stayed until the board adjourned for private session. I shook his hand and thanked him for staying. "It is my duty to stay," he said.

East lawn of Grieco Elementary
directly across the street from
the proposed 4,100 sq. ft shed.
This is also a flood zone.

Invasion of the Wetlands
Dr. Carlisle spoke briefly about the planned maintenance shed to be constructed on the "Wetlands" in back of the Little League Field. We will hear more of this since the proposed location is within the flood zone as designated by the State. Check this list of flood areas in the City of Englewood. Durie Avenue Park is the location of Grieco Elementary school, which is in the midst of the flood zone. They have already constructed a massive building on green space in the middle of a flood zone. Now they are all set to destroy the most lush greenery in all of Englewood. I wonder how the Little League Sponsors will feel when they are informed of the fact that some of their customers are getting their basements flooded so the little ball players will have a bathroom in a maintenance shed? What ever happened to providing a high quality porta john? Little League Baseball is a seasonal sport. It rains all year long.

Privilege of the floor -
The public was given 30 minutes to speak. The time had been decided upon before the meeting.The board president limited the number of people who could speak to 10, giving each person 3 minutes on the clock. The first speaker was not an Englewood resident. She spoke on behalf of the JCC of Tenafly. The first 4 speakers spoke about this music program. Mr. Matthews questioned the feasibility of paying someone (friend of a board member) over $25,000.00 to find speakers who will speak for free during a lecture series. Ms. Matos wanted to know why the older buildings at Quarles are still not air conditioned. She also asked the board to help fund the After School Program. The author reminded them that each new hire with a CE or CEAS must be issued a provisional certificate within 20 days of this handshake and acceptance of employment. They were reminded that they must also have a mentoring program in place in order to train these novice teachers. The $26,000.00 sign at DMHS was questioned. The board was asked to reinstate the music program that was abolished by resolution years ago. This present board did not seem to have knowledge of any resolution regarding the music program.

It was after 1am when the board returned to the floor. Many of the items that included surpurfulous spending were removed from the agenda. These things were to be revisited at a later date. Mr. Stephen Brown surprised everyone by voting NO on the $26,000 sign at DMHS. I was impressed when he said that his answer would always be no. Glenn Garrison was visibly upset by the vote to table the vote on the sign. He suggested that the Academy was the only thing that they marketed about the Campus and that it should even have a different address than DMHS.

This author has noticed that McKay Park has 2 lovely Little
League Baseball fields. One is even rather modern in that it is
covered with state of the Art turf .
The one above is destined to be underwater more often
than now once the massive shed is constructed adjacent to it.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Where 'O' Where are Dwight Morrow High School Sports?

Rear of Winton
White Stadium
 Are DMHS sports being taken over by DMAE, an academic program at Dwight Morrow High School?   Follow this link if you do not believe me.  This insidious invasion has worked its way deep into the fiber of the school and its official website. The DMAE Girl's losing basketball team has 184 photos on the DMHS official site and the winning boy's basketball team does not have a single one. Oh, and someone sent me on a search for one, but hey masked man, I never found it. What is wrong here? Is it because the Boy's basketball coach is a graduate of DMHS? Was he fired because he embodied too much of the winning history associated with DMHS sports. Is this another example of how the history of DMHS is being erased? 

(Oh, I forgot, the official word is that there is no official word on Mr. Akridge's coaching position.) Rumor is that DMHS has been relegated to the old gym and that DMAE controls the new one. Is that the real reason the floor colors were changed? Good try Ms Sheard, but you get no cigar for your "the white will turn yellow" explanation. In 27 years, I never noticed that the white in the blue and white of Teaneck's floor turned yellow.  Egads!

Where is the track coach's office located  now? Did they give him a new one or is he being removed like the plaques honoring former record holding track greats who have graduated from DMHS? Who will become the new keeper of the sports history of DMHS? Did anyone else find it odd and irregular that Phillip Dowell, the track star, who was injured playing football was pictured in the newspaper with Yvonne Sheard instead of with his track coach? Has Reggie Williams been erased also? Oh, he must be too old. Word on the street is that Gerald Akridge is being removed as basketball coach because he believes in winning too much and because he is too old. The white losing football coach looks older than both of these men. There is consistency here though. You may depend on EPSD being forever inconsistent.

Why are we allowing a private business concern (also an employee) who is obviously making money photographing prom pictures set the tone of our district by displaying the photos of our school teams as DMAE Sports? Did these DMAE teachers take it upon themselves to do this? It seems a mite unethical to me. Who gave him/them the authority to do this? Who sanctioned this? Garry Hollander, band director cannot take the heat for this one. Do we have a few loose cannons here in Englewood? Are these loose cannons teaching in the Academy and collecting a check made up of our tax dollars? Is there another "special interest group" involved here that is made up of teachers?
What is an Athletic Academic Facilitator? Is this a Guidance Counselor or a Health and Physical Education teacher? Inquiring minds would really like to know if this Title has been approved by the state and the board of education. We have not seen it listed on any agendas. All NEW TITLES must be approved by the state. Board of Ed approval is not enough. The new title must also be voted on in front of the tax paying public. Perhaps we will revisit this positon later in order to ascertain whether protocol was followed in Knighting Mr. Ceresnak. Another question. Who is the keeper of the DMHS Athletic website? We would like all website administrators to stand up and be recognized.

Has anyone noticed that the Athletic field and stadium is being allowed to collect garbage, stagnant water and equipment that should be properly stored? How would you like for your child to step on this neglected rake? Does anyone know what the Facilities Committee of the Board of Education and Mr. Hunkin is building beneath the stands at Winton White Stadium? Give us a shout out if you know what is going on beneath the stadium. The agenda from the July 21, 2011 board meeting indicated that renovations would be made to the snack bar to the tune of $22,000. I hope there will be more work than just that roof overhang for that amount.

Nothing was said about the extensive construction pictured in these photos.  I hope that all of that construction is planned to benefit the children, the sports program and the community. I hope that those rooms are lockerooms, bathrooms and storage rooms  for the teams. It seems awful strange that at the same time decisions are being made that will eventuall destroy the Athletic program all of this work is being done at the Athletic facility. Oh and where is that basketball court that was promised in the referendum? I hope that this is not a facility that will be used only to generate funds to fill that proverbial wormhole where funds from rented facilities disappear forever.

It should be noted that the overflowing garbage can to the right is located next to a sign that forbids food, drinks, chewing gum, sunflower seeds, smoking, metal cleats and the driving of stakes. I suppose the metal rake was used to spread the sand in the pit. Is anyone else wondering if tests or research was conducted to determine the effect all that plastic and artificial, man made "stuff" has on humans when they roll in it or breathe it in? Uhmmm! Where 'o' where are the folks who are supposed to take care of the stadium? Is it unkempt this way because it belongs to the City? So who bears the responsibility to keep it clean, the city or the board of education? To whomever is responsible, you must do better.

Perhaps a  porous cover
would make this less of a
 mosquito haven..

Does this neglect coincide with the neglect of our DMHS students and athletes? Did anyone else get that the new GPA requirement may be aimed at removing DMHS students from the sports teams altogether. Seems nothing is being done in the early years when these young people do poorly on the standardized tests. A little Title I Math and Reading, provided early on,  might do a lot to prepare these young people to achieve the GPA needed to participate in sports. Did anyone else notice that this new GPA requirement seems to be directed at boy's basketball? Is there a Master Plan of exclusion here? Is this part of allowing anything indicative of the traditional DMHS to fall into ruin or to actively erase it. Dwight Morrow High School is not written on the Billboard. Even Recreation's tiny little football players have a sign that gives them a shout out. Yeah, we noticed that guys. Dwight should be right up there with his friend Winton White. 
Where is the money coming from? Is this referendum money? I must check that. Are these our tax dollars at work and we have not even been told or asked what we think? In the top photo you will notice a large heating/air conditioning unit. Word on the street is that this will be Hunkin's office. Who is Hunkin and where does he get the authority? To whom does he report? I know whom the state says he should report? Perhaps the Business Administrator will be able to shed a little light here. According to Article 6A of the NJ State Administrative Code, the Business Administrator is the one who supervises such construction. Would anyone like to take bets on the fact that Mr. Olobardi knows very little of what is afoot here? Does Mr. Tabakin or Mr. Stephen Brown have inside information?  According to the NJ Licensure & Credentials Code, Mr Olobardi is the only person in the district certified to make the decisions that govern the construction shown here. And by the by, the board of education does NOT have the power to change that. So fellow taxpayers, do we have some questions for Mr. Hunkin, Mr. Olobardi, Mr. Tabakin and perhaps Mr. Glenn Garrison?

Dwight Morrow High School
. Home of the Raiders
There is still space at the top of the billboard to give DMHS and the RAIDERS a shout out. Stop allowing workfare to make decisions that affect a community in which they do not live. Stop the wholesale indoctrination of children into Stepfords guided by folks who are simply collecting a check. Perhaps the governor had this in mind when he created the new residency laws. Stop neglecting our school and our teams. GO RAIDERS! 

How are the children?

Saturday, August 6, 2011

What Does Englewood Do Right?

What is the POLICY for posting pictures of students publicly where anyone has access and may copy the photos and repost anywhere they please?

How are the Children?

Friday, August 5, 2011

Where 'O' Where is Our Attendance Officer?

"Parent Liaisons" Are NOT ATTENDANCE OFFICERS and we are not BERGEN ACADEMY...This perpetual denial is harming our children that you have sworn to protect.

I arrived in Englewood August 22, 1967. My Grandma lived in the attic of the house on the corner of Jay and Humphrey across the street from the Blue Moon. When I entered school that year one of the first things I learned was to stay off the street if you were not going to school. I never worried about it much, because I loved school, that is, until I moved to Englewood. I grew up in a farm community. The entire country depended on the produce that came out of Warren County, North Carolina. For that reason, we were never penalized for non attendance for the months of September and October. My report card had a giant X drawn through those 2 months. I couldn't wait to go to school. It was our only entertainment.

Dwight Morrow was an enigma to me. My 7th grade teacher had been very involved in the "Civil Rights Movement" and taught us a lot about the ways of folks up North. I thought I was prepared. Nothing could have prepared me to be the new girl at DMHS. I needed an attorney before I could even be registered. My Grandma was basically a functional illiterate and did not have a clue. Reverand Goodman of First Baptist Church was her advisor. He sent us to a lawyer named Sidney Dinsin. (last name spelling may be incorrect) His office was directly across the street from Woolworth's (now Victoria's Secret) My Grandma gave me a slip of paper with his address and the rest was up to me. Mr. Dinsin counseled me and drew up the papers that were sent South for my Mother to sign. He told me about the attendance policy and about the man who worked that job at the time. He said he was a friend of his and warned me that I should not cut school. I don't know how true that was, but I had never met a lawyer before so I took him seriously.

Our attendance officer was no joke. How did I know that? Everyone, and I do mean everyone took their cutting seriously. There were no children hanging out on the streets during school hours. At that time I did not know all that Mr. Wright did, but I do remember the respect that he was accorded.

The attendance officer in Teaneck reminds me of him. Al is a retired policeman that everyone takes seriously. Even though he is the enforcer, he is still well liked. There are stories of him watching kids get on buses under the Margaret street bridge and following them to New York where he meets  them at the bus. He has been known to return them to school and visit their homes. Teachers have been known to speak to him about missing students who show up in a shamefaced way later. Englewood needs that type of Attendance Officer now. No has to tell me that the "Credit Recovery Program" is filled with children who do not go to class or who are constantly truant. I live on a street that connects to a popular through way for kids leaving school. It is generally quite busy, especially when the weather warms in spring. There are no final exams to worry about. Students are basically cruising until released for the summer. Every little bit helps. State law requires that every school have an Attendance officer. It might also help to have formal final exams.

For the purpose of enforcing the provisions of this article, the board of education of each school district and the board of education of each county vocational school shall appoint a suitable number of qualified persons to be designated as attendance officers, and shall fix their compensation; except that if a county attendance officer or officers are appointed for any county, any district board of education of such county may be exempt from the appointment of a local attendance officer if such exemption is approved by the county superintendent. Each board shall make rules not inconsistent with the provisions of this article and subject to the approval of the commissioner, for the government of the attendance officers.

Not only is there no attendance officer, I do not see any indication that our board of education is even aware of the fact that children may NOT legally drop out of school at age 16 anymore. The new age is 18. It has been detemined that this might help students become more prepared for the workforce once no longer in school. Follow the link below to the new law.
http://www.njleg.state.nj.us/2010/Bills/A1000/869_I1.HTM  It seems that this bill is still not Law. One can only hope.

Why is the Board of Education NOT following the letter of the law in this matter? Perhaps an old time Attendance Officer would be a valuable addition to the school district. I do realize that we have what we have named "Parent Liasions". I must ask, how is that working out? Not well, it seems. Is that title a state approved one for someone who serves as the Attendance Officer?

How are the children?

Monday, August 1, 2011

Where 'O' Where is the Guidance Department?

Does anyone else find it unusual or strange that the Englewood Board of Education just hired a counseling service (Jonni Sayres and Associates - College Counseling Services) when we have trained guidance personnel? Why, oh why are we spending $400 a day to provide college counseling services to Dwight Morrow High School and Academies@Englewood seniors in order to reach the district’s goal of 100% of graduating seniors completing and submitting college applications. And why, oh why did we wait until they were seniors to begin preparing these students. And why, oh why is that even a goal? Are 100% of our seniors even interested in going to college? What about the students' goals? Do they know that they have a choice? Have they been introduced to the varying career opportunities available to students who are not college bound? By the time a student is a senior, his/her guidance counselor should have a pretty good idea what that student wants to do. A conversation should have even taken place with the student, guidance counselor and  parent by this time. Oh, and 2 more questions. Who pays for the application process? What schools are being targeted? Okay, 3 more questions. Who selects the colleges?

This summer, there was a freshmen enrichment program that was supposedly created to prepare 9th graders for the high school. Of course the application had a box at the bottom where parents were expected to circle whether the 9th grader was a DMHS student or an Academy Program Student. Why the distinction?
Why is it that we do not have full year freshmen seminar classes for all 9th graders? Jonni Sayres' services would be better utilized and we would probably get our money's worth  if we started to prepare our students earlier in their high school career, like other high schools. Perhaps if the school guidance counselor was doing more than warming a seat behind a desk while we outsource their services fewer students would need a credit recovery program. Full year freshman seminar should be a requirement for all students. Bring in Jonni Sayre's College Counseling Services when they are freshmen. You just might find out something about what our students want and what they are good at. It is time to begin focusing on what our students do well instead of focusing on their weaknesses. The district is literally breeding students with poor self esteem. By the way, that was the first reason on a list of reasons why a student would be sent to the punitive Alternative School that is being proposed. (A little Title I reading and math might help a lot. It might just keep them out of remedial reading and math once they enter college, if they decide that is what they wish to do. It might also keep them out of that orange jumpsuit.)

I recently sat through a board meeting where Dr. Carlisle and Ms. Y. Sheard spoke of something called a credit recovery program. This program seemed to be originating in the Athletic Department. What are we doing here? Is a coach more qualified to counsel and guide students than the school guidance counselor? I think not. What is at work here? What do guidance counselors in the Englewood School District do if they are not involved in helping students get the credits needed to graduate from high school? Most students don't even know what is required to graduate without the guidance counselor. Why is there a college career center at the high school if guidance and counseling  services are being outsourced? What is the job description of a guidance counselor in Englewood? Why is guidance being devalued in a town where it is most needed? 

In schools where guidance actually functions a student has the same counselor from 9th grade to 12th grade. The counselor is held responsible for making sure that his/her students have the required credits for graduation. Any help they get from the coaches is extra and usually only comes if the student is heavily involved in sports. So what is the job of the guidance counselor in Englewood? Health and Physical Education credentials do not qualify a person to function as a guidance counselor in any other district.

A lot of lip service is given to preparing students, but I see a severe lack of student involvement. I see students being used to achieve what adults think they should want. I do not see any sign that student A might decide that he/she wants to try an honors course and that student A would actually be allowed to try it. If high expectations really existed, students would be encouraged to take honors classes. We all know that they are not. They are constantly being reminded that they are not good enough. They are constantly reminded that another group of students deserves all of the services.
6A:9-13.8 School counselor (New Jersey Administrative Code)
The school counselor endorsement authorizes the holder to perform schoolcounseling services such as study and assessment of individual pupils with respect to their status, abilities, interest and needs; counseling with administrators, teachers, students, and parents regarding personal, social, educational, and vocational plans and programs; and developing cooperative  
relationships with community agencies in assisting children and families. The certificate holder is authorized to perform these duties in grades preschool through 12.
Comprehensive Health & Physical Education (pages 118 - 119)
i. Health education: This endorsement authorizes the holder to
teach health education in all public schools;
ii. Health and physical education: This endorsement authorizes the
holder to teach health and physical education in all public
iii. Physical education: This endorsement authorizes the holder to
teach physical education in all public schools; and
iv. Swimming and water safety instructor: This endorsement
authorizes the holder to teach swimming, diving and water safety
in all public schools.

One should note that by "law" these 2 certifications or endorsements do not overlap in any manner. One cannot become a school guidance counselor with Health & Physical Education, Math, or any other certification than the one listed above.  If a board of education allows this, they are in violation of the School Ethics Code that they swore to uphold. The very first one, as noted below.

(Copied word for word from the School Ethics Act)
I will uphold and enforce all laws, rules and regulations of the State Board of Education, and court orders pertaining to schools. Desired changes shall be brought about only through legal and ethical procedures.

Where 'O' where is Guidance in Englewood?   Oh, and how are the children?