BoE meeting 11/20/2007 – Recap
11/27/2007 “week late” recap:
The Board of Education held a regular meeting on Tuesday evening. Board members Carmelo Garcia, Carrie Gilliard, and Tricia Snyder were absent.
Report of the Superintendent of Schools
Superintendent Jack Raslowsky thanked the Board for their work and wished the public a Happy Thanksgiving. He introduced Pedro Medina, Vice-President of the Student Council at Hoboken High School, who will be attending BOE meetings and will serve as a liaison between the Board and the High School. Raslowsky had little else to say and was visibly annoyed. Just prior to the start of the meeting, he had a terse conversation with Board President Theresa Minutillo in which he voiced his displeasure with her comments in a recent article by the Hoboken Reporter.
Report of the Board President
Board President Theresa Minutillo thanked parent Jean Marie Mitchell for her update on the Saturday U program that appeared on Hoboken 411 – http://hoboken411.com/archives/9297 – and requested that it be posted on the Hoboken schools website. She added that she would like an update on the soon-to-be-revamped website and asked that a schedule of Board meetings be made available on that website.
Read the rest of the recap after the jump.
Rose Markle, Chair of the Facilities/Security/Transportation/Technology Committee, that progress is being made in cleaning up litter and debris at the high school athletic field. The former school ambulance will be refitted for use as a maintenance vehicle. A cost-analysis is in progress to see how well the district’s transportation system is performing.
Francis Rhodes-Kearns remarked that she and Rose Markle had recently attended a meeting at which U.S. District Attorney Christopher Christie was the keynote speaker. She read a statement as follows:
“He (Christie) acknowledged that New Jersey is in a state of crisis. People are skeptical and cynical. He recognized that the arrests and conviction of corrupt politicians by his office contributed to the feelings of mistrust by the public. However, (he) thinks that school board members can rise above that feeling by being concerned about serving the public, not self-serving. He believes we are seen as people who are trying to make things better, people helping children. He stressed the fact that our principles should never be compromised. We know the significance of character education for our students. If we expect that of our children, we must expect it of ourselves. We must lead by example. In order to help our district operate better, we must demand accountability and transparency. A board member must not be a rubber stamp. Mr. Christie understood that he might be preaching to the choir, and he added that he preaches to the choir so that they will sing. In ending his speech, he said school board members are the last ones left. If we screw up, there will be no one.”
Rhodes-Kearns finished by stating that the board, superintendent, teachers, students, and parents, and community must all work together to build a better future for the children.
At this point, members of the public are invited to comment only on agenda items on which the Board will take action. None spoke at this time.
Schools grant writer John Paterna spoke to the Board about the 21st Century Community Learning Centers program, which offers academic remediation in the form of tutoring and homework assistance, and enrichment in areas such as music, arts, recreation, and cultural activities. Paterna advised the board that the five-year grant ends next June and has a small chance for additional funding. The program has recently had issues with liability insurance and filling posts with teaching staff.
The Board passed a resolution based on a sample resolution prepared by the New Jersey School Board Association that asks the state to restore the principle of majority rule as it pertains to special budget questions in school board elections.
Earlier this year, the state passed legislation that put a 4% cap on increases in local school tax levies. School districts may exceed the cap for specific items or services by putting “second ballot questions” before the voters in school board elections. Rather than passing by simple majority, such questions must now receive affirmative votes by 60% of the voters to pass. According to the NJSBA, 87 second ballot questions were proposed by 65 school districts in this year’s school elections, of which 46% were passed. If the 60% rule had been in place, only 25% would have passed.
The Board voted 6-0 in favor of the resolution, which will be forwarded to our state representatives.
Minutes of meetings going back to June of 2006 were finally approved. Agenda items regarding staff and faculty assignments and student placements were approved with a minimum of discussion.
School Board Administrator’s Agenda
The board approved the following field trips at no cost to the district (students fundraise and/or pay their own way):
- High School Senior Class Outing – Fallsview Best Five Resort, Ellenville, NY, February 29-March 2, 2008,
- High School Harvard Model Congress – Washington, D.C – March 12-14, 2008.
- High School Italian Club – Italy, April 17-27, 2008.
Gary Enrico, president of the Hoboken teachers Association, stated his belief that Board President Minutillo’s recent comments in the Hoboken Reporter could have a negative effect on staff morale. Minutillo stood by her comments.
Former school board candidate Felicia Rubino-Drasheff listed her concerns about the delay with meeting minutes, lack of updates to the district’s website, the need for police officers in the morning to handle traffic at the Wallace school, and the possible loss of Abbott funding and additional loss of funding due to the city’s increasing use of PILOT payments from developers which give little or no money to the schools.
Phil Cohen urged the Board to adopt the Nepotism policy and stated that he found Minutillo’s comments refreshing and that poor results should be acknowledged.
Executive (Closed) Session
The Board continued discussions regarding negotiations with the teachers’ association and ongoing litigation.
Tonight’s Hoboken Board of Education agenda for your perusal:
DATE: November 20, 2007
TIME: 7:00 p.m. Stated Session
LOCATION: Board Meeting Room, 1115 Clinton Street
See full agenda after the jump.
1. Petition State Government to restore Principle of Majority Rule to Special Budget Questions.
2. Approval of minutes.
3. Utilization of facilities: outside agencies and community facility requests.
4. Adoption of resolutions, State Long Term Care Insurance: Introduction of Policies, Nepotism.
5. Personnel: resignations, appointments, transfers and postings.
6. Possible closed session discussion on litigation settlement, current litigation, potential litigation and personnel items; discussion of negotiations with HEA and other employees.
7. Leaves of absence: Family Leave: Maternity Leave.
8. Rescinding prior resolution.
9. Nursing Services Plan.
10. Appointment/non appointment of tenured and non tenured staff, including After School Advisors, Liaisons, Mentors, Home Instructors, Extra-Curricular and Coaching positions.
11. Fiscal reports, school reports, Board Committee reports, Board Secretary/Treasurer Reports, Fire Drill reports.
12. Possible discussion and/or action on the future of the school district’s facilities.
13. Attendance at Workshops.
14. Claims, regular and Workers Compensation Third Party Administrator.
15. Opening new bank accounts and designating authorized signers.
16. Contract for Home Instruction services.
17. Approval of field trips.
18. IDEA, Part B Application, absorbing FY2006 carryover funds.
19. Lease purchase of 2 copiers through state contract.
20. Consent and request NJ Dept. of Education and NJ Schools Development Authority to approve and reassignment of temporary classroom units from Calabro School project to Connors School project.
21. Out-of-State Travel.
22. Special Education: evaluations, agreements, outside placements.
23. Award of contracts – Dentist RFQ.
Any matters relating to the above items may come before the Board. Please be advised that the Board may be required to go into closed executive session during this meeting to discuss litigation settlement, current litigation, potential litigation and personnel items. Action may be taken on all agenda items.