BoE Meeting 8/14/2007 – Recap
Here’s a recap of last weeks Board of Education meeting.
The Board of Education held a regular meeting on Tuesday evening. All nine members of the board were present.
Report of the Superintendent of Schools
Superintendent of Schools Jack Raslowsky thanked the public for coming out and taking an interest, and thanked the board members for their work and preparation in committees. He welcomed Michael Mullins of the Hoboken Reporter as the beat reporter for the school board. Raslowsky noted the pending appointment of the new Supervisor of Early Childhood Education, Jessica Peters, as the “last piece of the administrative puzzle” and welcomed her to the school district. Peters will be leaving her position with the NJ Department of Education’s Division of Early Childhood Education.
Read the rest of the recap below
Tricia Snyder, Chairman of the Finance Committee, reported that the committee had met with the Superintendent and School Business Administrator to review and clarify the responsibilities of and stipends for the positions recommended on the agenda and to remove any that were felt to be unnecessary. Roughly ten positions were removed for further review.
Board member Carmelo Garcia remarked that he was not being notified of openings in the rotating seat in committee meetings that he would have been interested in attending. Board President Theresa Minutillo responded that he should contact the appropriate committee chair in advance to inquire about openings and to express his interest in attending.
Board Member Carrie Gilliard stated that it is still unclear as to whether the Demarest High School will be a vocational school or an alternative school and that she was unhappy with the separation of students between the two high schools. Other members echoed her concern. Raslowsky explained that Demarest will be an alternative school for children that have special learning needs or other needs that “have not been served well by traditional structure” though with a vocational track available. He also explained that separate programs in separate places better serve the variety of needs in the high school spectrum. Current high school students have a wide range of histories, backgrounds, and ages – ranging from 13 to 21 – that might be best served by separate facilities.
Board Member Carmelo Garcia expressed his disappointment with what he believed was an apparent lack of progress made in videotaping the Board meetings and made a motion for a resolution to prepare a plan for the next meeting. Minutillo assured him that she has had numerous discussions to date with the superintendent, and that an inventory will be done to see if the school system already has the equipment necessary to perform the videotaping. She also reminded him that, up until recently, the board had been against videotaping of meetings In October of 2006, Minutillo was the lone vote against a resolution authorizing a more restrictive policy on videotaping of meetings by private citizens.
School Business Administrator Contract Hearing
The Board voted unanimously to renew Mr. Brian Buckley’s contract. Raslowsky noted that Buckley provided clear and prompt information when requested and that he looked forward to continuing to work with him. Minutillo commented that she also appreciated his responsiveness to her questions.
Gilliard requested that students participating in the Culinary Arts course provided by the Urban Kitchen submit assessments of the course to determine the value of providing the course. Raslowsky replied that he would have that done at the end of each instructional cycle. The item passed 8-0-1 with Frank Raia abstaining.
All staff appointments were approved as recommended.
James Monaco was reinstated as a computer teacher, assigned to the Calabro School, effective September 1, 2007. On March 28, 2007, Monaco was arrested and charged with racketeering, promoting gambling, conspiracy to commit financial facilitation of criminal activity and conspiracy. He and five other Hoboken residents were accused of being part of the $500 million international gambling ring toppled by the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s office. Monaco was – and still is – a ten-year employee with the school system, as well as a former Roberts appointee to the Zoning Board. He has not yet been found guilty of any charges. (Despite these charges, Monaco is presumed innocent, unless and until found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, following a trial at which the defendant has all of the trial rights guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution and state law)
School Board Administrator’s Agenda
The Board approved an additional payment of $11,959 to the law firm of Scarinci & Hollenbeck. The firm was appointed as General Counsel to the Board of Education in June of 2006, with a contract total not to exceed $59,400. Since then, invoices for an additional $230,064, not including this recent one, have been approved. Raslowsky assured the board that only one more invoice for legal work would be received from Scarinci & Hollenbeck before the new In-House Counsel assumes their legal duties. Joseph R. Morano, formerly of Scarinci & Hollenbeck, was appointed at the last meeting as In-House Counsel at $130,000 per annum.
The Board approved a request from Hoboken’s Recreation Department for use of the high school football field by the P.A.L. Football League for practice and games between August and November.
A number of workers compensation cases were discussed in closed session.
Adam Lebenstein advised the Board that video coverage of the meetings is currently available at Beth Mason’s website wethepeoplereports.org.
Hoboken Councilman Michael Russo informed the Board that he donates his services as a physical therapist to the high school football team during practices and games. He asked that the board continue to grant him permission to be on the field and to treat students under general consent of parents.
Claudia Guiller stated that her son is a student at Calabro elementary school and that she was pleased that the school, which had been moved to 310 Jefferson Street while renovations were being made, would be back in its original building at 524 Park Avenue. She expressed her concerns that the school had been without a gym teacher, librarian, and computer teacher (see above) in the past year. Raslowsky assured her that Calabro will be fully staffed for the coming year.
Jessica Peters, the new Supervisor of Early Childhood Education, thanked the Board for the opportunity to join the Hoboken school system and stated that she hopes to expand and improve the Early Childhood program.
The Hoboken Board of Education will meet at 7pm at 1115 Clinton this evening. As always, items may be added or removed from the agenda up until the last minute.
School Business Administrator Contract Hearing
The Board will vote to renew the appointment of Brian Buckley as the School Business Administrator for one year at a salary of $145,000, effective July 1, 2007 to June 30, 2008. Mr. Buckley is responsible for the development, preparation, and management of the district’s $53 million budget. He oversees district-wide payroll and accounting operations and ensures that the district is compliant with all state and federal reporting requirements. While the Board does not publicly discuss personnel matters, the public will be allowed to comment.
Appointments of High School Advisors and Aides
Few meetings pass without recommendations for appointments and re-appointments to various part-time positions, paid by stipend or hourly rates. This meeting is no different, with roughly 100 individuals recommended for positions including athletic coaches and assistant coaches, student activity advisors, library aides, detention aides, luncheon aides, custodians, security guards, and bus drivers. Several new positions have been added that are not called for by the teachers’ union agreement and should prove for lively discussion.
Urban Kitchen – Culinary Arts Course
The Board will vote on contracting with the Urban Kitchen to provide a ten-week course, meeting once a week for 90 minutes, for 70 students at the Demarest alternative high school. The cost will be $350 per student for a total cost of $24,500.
Supervisor of Early Childhood Education
The Superintendent of Schools, Jack Raslowsky, will make a recommendation for this position. The Supervisor of Early Childhood Education oversees the 3 and 4-year-old pre-K programs in Hoboken.
These and other items at tonight’s meeting.