Saturday, April 27, 2013

Reorganizing the Englewood Board of Education

The Climate:
The feeling of enlightenment at Thursday night's School Board Meeting made me think of what Juneteenth must have been like those many years ago when the slaves were declared officially free. People were hugging each other and smiling as if released from shackles. There was no sliding against the wall afraid of hidden cameras recording every move. There was applause, courteous attention paid during privilege of the floor, happy laughter and the meeting ended before 10 pm. It is hoped that the meetings lasting until 2 and 3 am are a thing of the past. My old Supervisor used to joke that the average person has no more than 2 hours of meeting time in his/her brain and when that is over they shut down. It has been suggested that the Board begin to have workshop meetings for the hashing out and another meeting where action will be taken. This is said to have shortened meetings in other districts.

Positives: Organizing the Board of Education

  1. This was the first time that each resident actually got a signed certificate certifying the election before the swearing in of the new Board members. Last year, the Community objected to the swearing in ceremony that took place before the election was certified and we never saw a certification document.
  2. Thursday night's reorganization events were very different. After each new Board Member was sworn in there was thunderous applause and standing ovations. I have not seen the Residents of Englewood so happy to welcome new members to the School Board. (The meeting was not just attended by 4th Ward Residents.) There were a lot of items to be voted on, that did not appear on the Reorganization agendas the last 2 years. One wonders about the reasons behind that.
  3. Howard Haughton was unanimously elected President of the Board and Harley Ungar was elected Vice President. Haughton took charge of the meeting and  proceeded quite differently than Presidents in the recent past.
  4. This was also the first time in over 10 years that a Delegate to the New Jersey School Boards Association was selected. Devry Pazant is the Delegate to NJSBA. It will be good to hear the report on the activities of the Delegate Assembly which will be held on May 18th of this year.
  5. It was the first time that a Delegate was also selected for the Bergen County School Boards Association.  George Garrison III volunteered for this appointed position.
  6. It should be noted here that members of the Community thought that Dr. James was Molly Craig-Berry until they heard the absent Board Member's voice on the conference call. It has been noted more than once that it is very confusing to have the Assistant Superintendent at the Board table. Dr. Carlisle and the Board Secretary/BA are confusion enough, but it is understood why they are there. Dr. James and the Board Attorney should be relocated to another position, perhaps at the table with the Administrative Assistants or in that vicinity at a table of their own. 
  7. It was the first time that anyone challenged the appointment of the full time Board Attorney who is a member of the Weiner/Lesniak Law Firm and makes over $140,000.00 per year. It should be noted that it is not mandatory or necessary to employ a full time Attorney.
    52:13D-16. Certain representations, prohibited; exceptions - Some of us feel that there is a Conflict of Interest in this Law Firm being involved in Public Education in this manner since a state Senator is obviously in control of much more than 1% of the revenue from the actions of said firm. It gives the appearance of impropriety, especially when members of this law firm represent entities in finding loopholes to avoid compliance with the law.  Parsippany and Englewood are just 2 School Boards that demonstrate or display appearances of impropriety.  Our Board Attorney advised both Englewood and Parsippany and both School boards found themselves in situations contrary to state law. Parsippany's Mayor came out against this and in favor of the People. Our Mayor has remained mute on this subject even when questioned.  It has always been a concern that the Attorney sits at the Board table with his voice in our President's ear during all Board Meetings as if he is the 10th Member of the Board of Education. In order to function in that capacity, the Board and the Attorney have to satisfy some very different requirements.

  8. It was very good to see the people treated with respect by the new President of the Board.  He pointed out publicly that the new members had not gotten the agenda prior to that morning. Dr. Carlisle pointed out that they did not get the information because it was about personnel and it would have been unethical to give them the information before they were sworn Board Members.
Well, Dr. Carlisle, that is the reason that type of action should not be included in the agenda of the very first meeting of the new school board. Make a note of it. After careful examination, there are many things on the reorganization agenda that should not have been voted on by new Board Members since you did not get the agenda to them in a timely manner. They never had time to review many items that are germane to the operation of the district. To the people who put this reorg agenda together, nice try, but no cigar. The people are learning.
                                             "How are the children?"

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Our Schools Are In Crisis: Restoring Trust

The Future Shall Involve
Rethinking Past Decisions and Actions 
that have been less than successful in providing a 
Thorough & Efficient education to all children.
The Future Shall Include
Reforming Tracking practices that are old, outdated and ineffective in helping all students 
Achieve Academically.
The Future Shall Provide healthy and Nurturing School Environments where children feel both 
safe and confident to voice their fears. 
The Future Shall Embrace
Rebuilding and Restoring the Trust
Between the Englewood Public School Board 
and the Entire Community.