Saturday, March 30, 2013

Did Your Polling Place Change?

ENGLEWOOD RESIDENTS: Do you know where to vote in 

the School Board Elections?

Polling Places have changed again!  Click here to find your street in order to determine your WARD, DISTRICT and POLLING PLACE.

April 16, 2013....  7:00 AM - 9:00 PM
Lines 3, 4 and 5. Keep Public Education Alive!

Come out and question the incumbents and the new Candidates. Find out where they stand on the subject of Education and why they want to become School Board Members. Question the incumbents on policies supported during their 9 years already served on the School Board.

Meet the Candidates:
1.) Parent Teacher Organization of EPSD
     Meet the Candidates Forum 
     April 8, 2013 @ 6:30 pm
     Place: McCloud Elementary School 

2.) League of Women Voters 
     Meet the Candidates Forum
     April 11, 2013 at 7:30 pm
     Place: Public Safety Complex
     73 Van Brunt Street

Streets Wards and Districts

Polling Places


Tuesday, March 26, 2013

A Change Is Bound to Come!

Citizens For Public Education  Support the Dream Team!

Left to Right: Devry Pazant, Carol Feinstein, Junius F. Carter III
Candidates for Englewood Board of Education
Lines 3, 4 and 5
Keep Public Education Alive!
VOTE: April 16, 2013

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Make The Call!

It would have been a simple thing to post the Preliminary School Budget on the Englewood Public School District Website.

So why are residents required to purchase a copy at the Englewood Public Library?
How many of you have voted yes on the School Budget in the past without ever seeing it. The Law says that they must share it with us...

It is foolhardy and unfair for the Board of Education to expect residents to vote on a School Budget that we have never examined. Break the cycle. 

Tell the present Board of Education that these insensitive practices must end. Tell them to post the Proposed Budget on the District Website so those who have Internet access may see it for free. It is our money that is being spent. This way, we may print it out and discuss it with our neighbors. I will see you all at the Board of Education Meeting. I do not work so I will attempt to make both of these dramas.

Let them hear from you.

Thursday, March 21
Budget Hearing and Board Meeting
7:30 PM
The 2013-2014 School Budget will be 
presented and voted on by the Board
"State of the District" presentation

A regular Board meeting will follow 
Grieco Elementary School Cafeteria


Ph: 201-862-6000
Fax: 201-569-6099
Henry Pruitt III, Board Vice-President
Molly Craig-Berry
Enrique Diaz
Mark DeMontagnac
George Garrison III
Glenn Garrison
Howard Haughton
Harley Ungar
Donald K. Carlisle, Ed.D. - Superintendent of Schools

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?

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Just Say No to the Meals & Entertainments @ Conventions

public domain photo
Mr. David Popkin brought up an issue that has been discussed at length with our Board of Education. It was in reference to the guideline regarding acceptance of meals and entertainment at conferences. Mr. Popkin was entirely correct in his assertion that our Board should beware and avoid these practices. 

This policy was recently reinforced by the School Ethics Commission.  Read about it here.

An educated Community is the best defense against School Board Corruption. The information is there for everyone. We have the law and we have our vote.

public domain photo

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