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Board Meeting Questions & Answers » Board of Education Questions & Answers 2017-2018

Board of Education Questions & Answers 2017-2018

Board of Education Open Forum - January 21, 2018 - Comments & Questions

Open Forum - 1/21/18


Board President Berylin Bosselman opened the meeting at 1:09 pm. She welcomed everyone and explained the difference between forum and regular public meeting (more informal).

She discusses banning the word “transparency’ – suggests “hiding.” She wants to see more candid communication when facts can be delivered

Dr. Burton commented on a few of the topics that may be on people’s minds.

We need and want to hear what people are thinking; priorities, as we plan for next year and develop next year’s budget.

Board President Berylin Bosselman:

  • Transportation report – personnel issues – some not able to be shared. Need to openly explain some of what went wrong but could not discuss individual people
  • Washington school – “what went wrong” – may also not be able to be discussed in public


Public Comments:

Q. Ross S. – HS junior – recent teacher protest at school – what does it mean that contracts aren’t renewed? How long to get it settled?

A. Teachers contract is currently being negotiated. Every three years we begin conversation. Even though the contract expired at the end of June, staff is still covered by previous contract. All would want matters to be settled. Teachers have ways of expressing the desire to move process along. They exercise their rights to notify the board that they would like to get process moving. Can’t say when will be settled – it’s a process. Working through contract language and terms of contract.



Q. Cari S.– I seem to remember having contract settled last time too? Would it help to start negotiation process sooner?

A. The fact that there is a time period without contract is standard – happens in most districts. Starting sooner doesn’t necessarily mean ending sooner.   Although agree, that we should start sooner.


Q. Cari: While common practice – does have adverse consequences, certainly don’t want to put students into the middle…

A. Can’t force the other side to agree with you.   As a board we represent the community – includes fiduciary responsibilities. The full board is committed to getting to a successful contract as soon as possible.   If we can’t afford a certain increase, that will also impact programs if tax cap doesn’t allow us to increase above a certain level. There is -2% tax increase cap – if go above that, then need a referendum. Out of $80,000,000 budget – 80% of budget is salary and benefits. All board members on negotiating committee are returning board members.


Q. Why MHS teachers are staying in library tutoring students for large amounts of dollars when won’t answer questions for students.

A. What teachers do outside of their day is not in up to us. They can’t tutor their own students. And can’t tutor on school property.


Q: Teachers shouldn’t be able to tutor students in their own school district. Get rid of binders – heavy – should use notebooks – tidier, organized. Binders recipe for disaster.

A. We need to push ahead to foster a relationship between students and teachers to develop resiliency. One of main objectives of innovative schedule to allow for students and teachers to develop a relationship. If a different process is better for a child, they should talk to their teacher.


I encourage you to speak with the teacher if something works better for him. Hope that once we have Chromebooks in everyone’s hands, that organization will be on a laptop. We are doing work in terms of assessment framework, and how to communicate with building teachers and principals.   Teachers nurturing, but also give them skills they need (resiliency). Students/Parents should communicate with teachers, if feel not getting anywhere (perverse pleasures), reach out to the principal.

Wonder if we should evaluate allowing teachers to tutor within the district.



Q: Eric S – Regarding plans to put Chromebooks in everyone’s hands – actually not a fan of that. What is plan of what is being done with Chromebooks and what kids are doing with them?   Troubling that reports that students are already distracted?

A: Thoughts into 1:1 – cart model at younger grades to address some of those concerns seen in MS pilot years ago.   Also have some software in place to monitor usage. Believe we need a balance between computers and paper. Address learning standards – need technology learning. But use technology for application not necessarily note-taking. The computers are not opened from bell to bell – teachers make smart decisions on when to use devices. Have Go Guardian and Gaggle to monitor usage. Notebook is not a goal but a tool – what can do with knowledge.   Giving students choice about how to take notes. Highest form of self-regulation and resiliency is for a student to realize how they work best. We want students to have access to these devices to be prepared for post-secondary education.



Q: Ben, MHS senior– I take a number of AP classes; at least half of the computers are not just taking notes and doing what they are supposed to be doing in class.


A: Feel shouldn’t go full-blown 6-12 until we can figure out how to use and monitor appropriately. The programs that we have for monitoring is on the district devices (5,6 and 9th grades) – so wouldn’t necessarily be on the personal devices for seniors, etc.) Point being – don’t need computers for taking notes. Technology being introduced is more interactive. Some schools taking away phones during the school day – maybe need to look into that.



Q: Catherine Dorum – assessment framework review – specifically at the MS whether quality of homework, guidelines and how much homework can be given each night – how is it going with limits, looking at guidelines for grades, (Dr. Kasun in Freehold’s work) – what do you do on a given night if a student has reached their limit?   Thought if student has reached that night -do we tell them to stop?


A: There was a great presentation at HS recently. The HS chairs shared insights to help parents understand the process behind homework at the HS. It would be great to share with MS Opportunity to ask those kinds of questions, would be great.

We have begun to look at this, not fully flushed out. Limits, return of homework…. Working on revising regulation. Reviewing with program committee, teachers, etc. If a student worked hard, but got it all done, but student got 100% for effort – problem. Hashing all that out.


Q: Parity between teams – how much notice for assessments, guidelines for how many tests assigned in one day – can we also see how spread out these assessments can be. Some teams known to be tougher than others – parity in giving notice and number of tests in a given week.

A. Shouldn’t be as much of a concern at the MS with the team structure. Yes, looking into.

If student exhausted, time to cut off the homework – put it in writing as a parent that “he tried and couldn’t do anymore”. Self-regulating.



Q; Students may skirt this homework issue by copying homework – shortcut… integrity issue. Genuine option.

A: As we move towards assessments to be assessing skills rather content memorization, will be more difficult to “cheat” on homework.



Q: Cari S. – Substitute teachers shortage -what are policies in place to see that meaningful learning takes place when have substitute.


A: If set stage for work to do, substitute should be able to monitor. When teachers are out, they should have lesson plans. One day – read notes, have conversations about what have been doing in class. By three days, more of a concern – then teacher should reach out to colleagues to give guidance to sub.

More pressure on students to do some reading on their own. Don’t have subs as specialized as biology – try to get internal coverage, using other teachers. Should be a lesson plan. Chair people should be monitoring this so we can discuss with them and make sure this is happening.

Subbing in the district, if you are certified teacher – form to fill out on line, criminal background, county sub cert – 6-8 week; college grad – another process; 60 credits – another process.   Only can work 4 days a week. Some will work every all 4 days, some pick and choose and only want to work one or two days per week. Transient group. To find someone highly qualified for content area, are pretty rare.   By nature, level of transience. Level of unpredictably in whole process (call out for emergency). Can’t always plan for it.

We need to get word out to Community – process to be a sub – highly skilled people in the community. Get word out.



Q: Leanne Sager – next year’s calendar – is that set in stone? February break vs less days in June.

A: Just for next year poll was in favor of removing Feb break.


Q: Teacher evaluations – how are they done, particularly at the HS. Some teachers help prepare for next year, but others don’t teach as course described – students have been discouraged from taking courses because will impact their GPA. If kids lucky enough to get teachers who give higher grades. (added that MS is issue too)

A. We are working on assessment framework for grades K-12. HS already underway. Some AP courses are more rigorous than others based on content or year students taking them. Marshall model for evaluation – teachers are observed 6 times a year in unannounced setting. Summative evaluation at end of year (60 criteria) – real time feedback throughout year and summative at end of year. Common expectations for all teachers. Summative translated to grades 1-4 at end of year (effective, highly effective….)



Q. But how to address discrepancies?

A. Recognize discrepancies and so that is goal of framework – don’t want to make teachers automatons. Granular work of framework is available on the website.   Some of the evaluation systems include student feedback. We can look into something like that for information for framework. Let teachers see results to inform their teaching. Get that input in January rather than June.


Q: What actions have been taken to fix bus disaster that happened?

A: Investigation was done – will be received by board tomorrow evening. Have had interim supervisor since October, fixed some procedures and protocols.   Board has an ad hoc transportation committee addressing matter on high level – what do we do to better inform community about transportation.



Q: Catherine D. –

     a. Wellness at the middle school – wellness policy is out of date; where are we with that? Trying to     eliminate pop tarts and Snapple from MS offerings. Part of financial contract with Pomptonian – relying on sale of Snapple to make our cafeteria function. Not supposed to serve these kinds of things. Try to have vegetarian options at middle school. Diversity shift in our community.

     b. Regarding gym at middle school – proposal to offer middle school gym every day to address lack of recess.

     c. Opportunities to offer most up to date issues in health classes – sleep issues with phones in room, vaping.



     a. Policy engaging with Pomptonian to talk about offering choices but asking them to come to board meeting to talk about how they develop their menus.   Fit within guidelines or what can we offer to make sure that students still will want to eat (balance). Pomptonian can tailor their offerings to districts outside the federal program.  

     b. PE – would be a budgetary impact – discuss as part of budget

   c. Re health education opportunities: Health classes – work as part of consortium.   Dr. Brooks (highly recognized psychologist) – will be working with teachers. Things we look to bring in. Dr. Miron just did that recently at the HS. Already programs at MS, maybe not having a student in the school you may not be aware. We are discussing adding some of things to the health curriculum – updating content.



Comment:..Jane F.:

Our students are prepared for college when they leave our high school.   I hear a lot about stress, anxiety individual child’s situations – as a parent who had children go through – system is a good one. I want to reassure people, elementary very nurturing and lots of opportunity to be involved; then get to MS – big transition for not just student, but myself – child becoming more independent. My kid made multiple mistakes, many of the same mistakes – series of learning moments. Education is not an easy process. Child grows, what works best for my child. Will grow – child’s ability to talk to teachers. May not always seem fair, but not necessarily a bad thing.   Support child, but allow them to make mistakes. A million colleges out there and more than one school right for your student.

Are they prepared? I have yet to hear from anyone that the children were not prepared for school. Keeping that excellence is what we are here for to continue the conversation.



Ms. Bosselman thanked everyone for attending.