Hoboken BoE meeting recap
Here’s the full recap from this week’s regular Hoboken Board of Education meeting. All nine members of the board were present. Agenda was published earlier in the week, and can be viewed after the article break.
Family Members Need Not Apply
The Board finally adopted a controversial nepotism policy as mandated by the state. As a district that receives Abbott funding for its Early Childhood programs and school construction, the Hoboken school district is required to comply with a number of directives – including adoption and enforcement of a nepotism policy – that seek to ensure the effective and efficient operation of schools.
Continue reading more, including public video taping of meetings, paid family leave, and other issues after the jump.
Initially introduced at October’s meeting, the first reading of the resolution was tabled by unanimous vote so that members might have more time to review it. The resolution was re-introduced at November’s meeting, where an amended resolution – proposed by Board member Frank Raia – was approved by a 5-4 vote, with Board President Theresa Minutillo and Board members Carrie Gilliard, Rose Markle, and Tricia Snyder voting against the amended resolution, preferring the original version proposed in October. The amended resolution included a clause that would prevent the policy from taking effect until all other Abbott districts had adopted their own nepotism policies. Only a few districts have done so to date.
The amended resolution was presented for second reading at this month’s meeting. Raia stated his belief that the policy “is prejudiced against poor people. You have six hundred districts and only thirty-one have to pass it…they want a nepotism policy, it should be for everyone.” Minutillo responded that “they’re holding us to a higher standard because we’re getting additional funding.”
The amended resolution – with the wait clause – failed to pass, with only James Farina, Francis Rhodes-Kearns, and Raia voting to approve. The resolution was then voted on with the amending clause removed, passing by a 6-3 vote, with Farina, Rhodes-Kearns, and Raia voting against. Surprisingly, Carmelo Garcia and Anthony Romano, both of whom had supported the amended resolution on first reading, voted to approve and to abstain, respectively.
“Abbott” is the short-hand description referring to a series of New Jersey Supreme Court decisions growing out of litigation filed in 1981 on behalf of children residing in New Jersey’s most economically disadvantaged municipalities. The name is now used to distinguish the 31 school districts selected by the Court and the Legislature to benefit from state financial assistance and to implement specific remedies mandated by the Court. The 31 Abbott districts currently receive more than half of all funding provided to the state’s 616 districts.
As the state is currently considering a new school funding formula which would do away with the Abbott program, debate over Hoboken’s nepotism policy may soon be moot.
Videotaping: Everyone’s A Star, Like It or Not: Take Two
On second reading, the “Videotaping Electronic Recording of Public Portions of Meetings” policy resolution was passed by an 8-0 vote, with James Farina not present for the vote. By doing so, the Board “recognizes the common law right of private citizens to electronically record the public portions of its meetings subject to reasonable restrictions.” The Board’s previous policy required that cameras be shut off at a public speaker’s request. Last year’s New Jersey Supreme Court decision in Tarus v. Pine Hill precludes the Board from enforcing such a policy.
Paid Family Leave: Headache in the Making?
In a unanimous vote, the Board voted to approve a resolution opposing proposed legislation that would mandate ten weeks of paid family leave for every employee in New Jersey (S-2249 and A-3812). The resolution cites the difficulty and cost of employing substitute teachers, as well as the administrative and logistical challenges inherent in implementing a paid leave system, as reasons to oppose the legislation.
Because He Says So…
In a recurring theme, debate ensued over what should have been ordinary personnel hires. Board members Gilliard, Markle, Snyder, and Minutillo objected to staffing recommendations – in this case for “Highly Qualified Teacher Aides” – made by Superintendent Jack Raslowsky. In an apparent oversight, the Board was not provided with job descriptions and resumes for the two individuals. Carrie Gilliard voiced the opinion of the four objecting members by stating “I cannot vote for these people – it’s nothing personal – I just feel that we should have resumes to look at, to know a little bit about them” while Vice-President Rhodes-Kearns stated “I believe our superintendent read the resumes and saw that they met the criteria for these positions.” The candidates were approved by a 5-4 vote.
A Few Quick Notes
- A vote on hiring two golf coaches was tabled until it can be determined whether the schools will receive a $10K golf grant for equipment and “other costs.”
- Christopher Corbin of ZogSports was thanked for the organization’s $3000 donation to the Connors school.
- Wallace School Principal Charles Tortorella provided the Board with an update on the good things happening at his school.
- Joseph Miele, the district’s Coordinator of Service Learning, and several students from the Hoboken High School Emergency Response Team displayed a video presentation detailing the positive experiences participating students have had in the program.
- Carmelo Garcia voiced his admiration for the photographic work of students in the 2008 Hoboken “Kids with Cameras” calendar, available at the Hoboken Historic museum.
DATE: Tuesday, January 15, 2008
TIME: 7:00 p.m. Stated Session
LOCATION: Board Meeting Room, 1115 Clinton Street, Hoboken, NJ 07030
- Approval of minutes.
- Utilization of facilities: outside agencies and community facility requests.
- Adoption of resolutions, Second Readings – Videotaping Public Meetings, Nepotism.
- Personnel: resignations, appointments, transfers and postings.
- Possible closed session discussion on litigation settlement, current litigation, potential litigation and personnel items, previous Superintendent’s contract, Board Secretary; discussion of negotiations with HEA and other employees, discussion of employee stipends; raises for non-union staff, clerks.
- Leaves of absence; Family Leave; Maternity Leave.
- Appointment/non appointment of tenured and non tenured staff, including additional Substitute Teachers, Game Supervisors, Spring Coaches, Tutors, Clerks and other staff for Saturday HSPA Program and NJASK, After School Advisors, Mentors, Home Instructors, and Extra-Curricular positions.
- Fiscal reports, school reports, Board Committee reports, Board Secretary/Treasurer Reports, Fire Drill reports.
- Possible discussion and/or action on the future of the school district’s facilities.
- Attendance at workshops.
- Out of State Travel.
- Approval of field trips.
- Claims, regular and Workers Compensation Third party Administrator.
- Special Education Self Assessment, Special Education Out of District Placement.
- Adjust mileage reimbursement rate.
- Accept grant awards; apply for grants.
- Accept donations.
- Award of contracts through bidding, state contracts.
- Corrective Action Plans – Program Improvement Plan (Food Service).
- Budget transfers; grant appropriation modifications.
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.