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Board Meeting Questions & Answers » Board of Education Questions and Answers 2014-2015

Board of Education Questions and Answers 2014-2015

Board of Education Questions and Answers 2014-2015


Answers to questions asked during Public Comments sessions at recent Board of Education meetings.



These are questions that required further research for a response.

These types of Q & A's will be posted here after each Board of Education meeting.

BOE Meeting 6-8-15

Enrollment Chart Presented by Dr. Burton with Projected Enrollments and Possible Class Additions:

Download Chart here




BOE Meeting 11/24/2014



QUESTION: Why do we need a full week off in February on the school calendar--what is the rationale?

ANSWER: There are many reason that our educators believe a full week in February is needed:

  1. High school students use this break to visit colleges
  2. This is often a time of high rates of illness and the break allows for a break from germs among students and staff.
  3. During winters where there are more than 3 snow days that must be made up during the spring break, the February break is then the only meaningful break students and staff may get during the second half of the year.

QUESTION: What is the next step with regard to possibly having a student rep on the BOE?

ANSWER: At this time, the Policy Committee is not recommending any changes to BOE policy with regard to this, and the board's established committee, the Student Liaison Committee, is exploring ways to enhance communication and opportunities for student input using the committee that is in place.



QUESTION: What is the vehicle by which communication from the Student Liaison Committee gets to the BOE?

ANSWER: The Committee Chair reports back to the full BOE in the same manner as other committee chairs report on the deliberations at other committee meetings. The Student Liaison chair and the MHS principal are exploring additional ways that communication from the MHS committee can take place such as having liaison committee students attend public BOE meetings and make relevant comments.





BOE Meeting, October 27, 2014





QUESTION: Is the district spending $100,000 a year on the trailers at Glenwood School?

ANSWER: No, there was a one time cost of $100,000. It is not an annual cost.



QUESTION: How many students from other communities pay tuition to attend Millburn schools?

ANSWER: 2 students (special education only) are currently paying tuition to attend Millburn schools. See the residency report here





QUESTION: Can you give us some details about the robotics curriculum at the Middle School?

ANSWER: Here are the units of study:

  • Sensor Technology and the Implementation of Program Loops and Logic
  • The "Arterial Bypass" Surgery (Robotic assemblies)
  • "Micropahge" - the Design Engineering Challenge

Throughout all of the units students have the opportunity to work with a number of engineering and process tools. These include the natural impact of sound and light on sensors, logic as the fundamental underpinning of programming, and testing programs as part of the Design Engineering Cycle. Students also build their collaboration skills through developing the project specifications, engineer journaling, and the iterative design process.
BOE Meeting, Sept 22, 2014

QUESTION: Why just come to us now with a five-year plan with this dire situation?

ANSWER: First of all, the current budget situation is not dire. The forecast that was presented is intended to highlight certain structural cost pressures that may lead to a much more difficult budget environment if preemptive action isn’t taken. We have discussed these issues numerous times in recent budget seasons and have had budget forecast documents in the past--just not in this format. As just one example, on January 28, 2013 Board President Jeff Waters made a presentation on the District’s finances that highlighted some of these same issues. That presentation is posted with all documents presented during the 2013-2014 budget process, and can be found here. In 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014, future budget forecasts were presented either in the Finance Committee or at public BOE meetings.



It is the board's intention to keep Budget Forecasts in the format presented on Monday night (9/22/14) moving forward and to update this current forecast, as needed, on a regular basis.





QUESTION: Can we get a list of why the CCSS are positives for us and what changes to the curriculum will result from the CCSS?

ANSWER: There are changes to the standards that are referred to as shifts in the NJ Core Curriculum Content Standards to the Common Core State Standards as follows:

Shifts in ELA - http://www.corestandards.org/other-resources/key-shifts-in-english-language-arts/

Shifts in Math- http://www.corestandards.org/other-resources/key-shifts-in-mathematics/

The impact on curriculum and instruction can be seen in the alignment of the standards to what is being taught and how it is being taught. For example, one of the main shifts in Language Arts has been a greater emphasis on being able to reference information from the text and to cite examples to substantiate an answer. These new expectations are raising the bar on students' reading comprehension and writing skills.

In Math, students are asked to understand not only how they solve a problem or complete a procedure, but also why it works and when/where to apply it. There is an equal intensity level on acquiring skills as there is on the understanding of why they work and how to apply them in multiple ways. The emphasis is on getting students to think more deeply about the math beyond simply "doing the math".




QUESTION: How are the negotiations going with Dr. Crisfield for a new contract?

ANSWER: That is a personnel matter and as such is not discussed in a public forum.





QUESTION: Is it possible to insert another level in the MHS Biology curriculum course offerings between Accelerated and AP?

ANSWER: We will look to review the Biology curricula as part of the Next Generation Science standards review and articulation. As an outcome of these new sets of standards, there will be changes to the curricula to give students in the Accelerated program more of a challenge without having to go to the AP level.



QUESTION: Regarding the new "No drop" policy at MHS, what exactly are the rules and what is the impact on enrollment as a result of this new policy?
ANSWER: The purpose of this procedural change was to ensure students fully understood the commitment and the expectations of their schedule of courses for the next school year. If they were having any hesitations, students were to reach out to their counselors for additional guidance and information in order to make a final decision on whether they were going to take the number of AP courses they had on their schedule. To avoid switching students into other classes once the school year started, the HS would give them a study hall in lieu of an elective if they dropped the AP course. As a result of the new procedure, there were a minimal number of students who opted to drop before the school year. On the whole, there were about a dozen students who dropped an AP course in all English, Social Studies, Science, World Language, and Math AP courses combined.
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BOE Meeting, Sept 8, 2014
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QUESTION: Why is the number of students in the Millburn Schools so high compared to the percentage of school-age students in the township as a whole as reflected in the most recent U.S. census (2010)??

ANSWER: It is not clear that it IS unusually high, once all the relevant census data points are considered. Further, it impossible to know the reasons why we have the number of students we do, as families consider many factors when choosing where to live. One possibility is the Millburn schools are so appealing that we have a relatively large percentage of the households in our town with school-aged children (in order to attend the excellent schools).



QUESTION: What is the legal basis for the BOE not sharing the outcomes of residency investigations?

ANSWER: The BOE has the legal and moral obligation to protect the privacy rights of students and their families. The BOE will publicly report on the total number of investigations, and outcomes in general, at certain intervals during the school year, but only in a way that makes it impossible to ascertain the outcome of any one student's situation.



QUESTION: Is the BOE investigating a specific family [details omitted from this Q&A out of respect for family privacy that lives in a certain nearby town [again, details omitted from this Q&A]?

ANSWER: The BOE will not respond to questions about individual students or families. The BOE WILL report on the total number of residency investigations, and outcomes in general, at certain intervals each school year.



QUESTION: Is the BOE pursuing affluent border jumpers?

ANSWER: The BOE investigates all leads it receives with regard to residency.



QUESTION: Why is the Property Committee not notified of residency investigations?

ANSWER: The Property Committee IS kept apprised of all ongoing residency concerns.



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BOE Meeting, August 25, 2014
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QUESTION: Are families found to be non-residents being pursued for tuition for the time they were in Millburn schools but not domiciled in Millburn? ANSWER: Yes.





QUESTION: What is the legal basis for the BOE not sharing information about the outcomes of residency investigations.

ANSWER: The BOE is committed to protecting the the confidentiality and privacy rights of all Millburn students. If legal action is taken against any family for any reason, including residency matters, it is the board's obligation and intent to protect the student from any harm during and after the legal proceedings.


QUESTION: How are BOE election ballots counted?

ANSWER: All election details are handled by the county.



QUESTION: Why was the world language program in Grades 3-5 changed four years ago?

ANSWER: It was changed because the program at that time was not working and students were entering Grade 6 without any usable foundation in Spanish (their 6th grade teachers started from scratch in the Spanish I curriculum). We now have a Understanding by Design (UBD) plan in place that looks at where we want our students to be towards the end of high school and then works backwards, all the way to Grade 3, with expectations for each grade that exceed what we were able to accomplish under the old world language approach at the elementary school level.



QUESTION: Why did the SE Committee choose to report on the # of students who came to the district with IEPs over the past two months?

ANSWER: This was done to help portray the complexity of the special education staffing and planning requirements over the summer months.







QUESTIONS CONCERNING TESTING





QUESTION: What tests do we use, by grade?



ANSWER:
 
a. MAP (Measures of Academic Progress) Assessments are given to some elementary, MS and HS students at a cost of $10,000

b. ACCESS assessments are given to all district ELL students at a total cost of $1,200.?





QUESTION: What are the purposes of each test?



ANSWER: MAP measures LAR and Math
ACCESS measures the English proficiency of students whose first language is not English





QUESTION: Have we eliminated finals?



ANSWER: Yes, as officially reported at the 9/8/14 BOE meeting, we have eliminated final exams at the High School. The decision was based on a review of the number of assessments given throughout the year, including AP exams, SGO assessments and standardized assessments. Both midterms and finals were part of the discussion and the decision was to keep the midterms as all students would take midterms. Eliminating the finals will allow for the recapturing of 10 instructional days that will still include end of unit assessments, final projects or other performance measures.







QUESTION: Can we identify the costs of all these tests?



ANSWER: See above







QUESTION: What is the course content for robotics in Grades 7-8?

ANSWER: The Robotics 8-week Cycle Elective Course includes the following scope and sequence topics: ?

  • Intro. to robotics & construction techniques
  • How robots move & introduction to the programming environment
  • Sensor technology and program logic & loops
  • The "Arterial Bypass"
  • "Microphage" the Design Engineering Challenge
 

MEDIBOTICS, the infusion of Medicine, Robotics and Information Technology, was initiated by a National Science Foundation grant with a primary goal of encouraging your people to pursue careers in S.T.E.M fields. This 8-week course seeks to do exactly that: examining the nature of robots and construction techniques, robot movement and the programming environment, sensor technology using logic and loops, a robotic "surgery" and a design engineering challenge. The application of mathematics principles is an integral part of the course.



QUESTION: Who can teach robotics at Middle School and is robotics integrated between Middle School and MHS?

ANSWER: Lester Greenberg and Cloe Kawecki are teach robotics at the Middle School. We currently have a new HS course, Applied Problem Solving and Design, that integrates the work from the elective course at the MS to the HS Robotics course.


QUESTION: Are there ever background checks done on BOE candidates?
ANSWER: Background checks are required when a person is elected to the board, not before.



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BOE Meeting, July 28, 2014
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Question: Regarding the recent arrest of a district custodian, why wasn't there an arrest after the 1st alleged incident?

Answer: The district contacted local law authorities immediately after becoming aware of the allegations. Please remember that this is a personnel matter and the district is prevented, by law, from discussing the matter any further.



Question: Is there a cap of how much money in total can be paid as a result of agenda item M.3.i?

Answer: Yes, there is a cap of $5,000 for the agenda item that approved a professional services agreement for services on personnel matters within the district.



Question: Will the district make suicide prevention materials available to parents?

ANSWER: Yes we will make suicide prevention information available to parents beginning this fall. The high school website has links posted to recommended sites.



Question: Is it possible to outlines changes to the district curricula in a document or forum that that public can access?

ANSWER: The changes to the district curricula are reflected in each meeting's agenda where revisions are made. The changes are ongoing therefore we list all the documents that were reviewed by the Program Committee and then come to the full BOE for approval. The nature of the curriculum revisions are listed in each of the Assistant Superintendent's reports and are also announced at the BOE meetings. To date the majority of the curriculum revisions are reflective of changes to benchmark assessments, alignment to the Common Core State Standards, and the inclusion of technology integration.







Question: Given the recent tragic events involving two students from another New Jersey district who were in a car crash, how can the district increase efforts to educate high school students about the dangers of unsafe driving?



ANSWER: The dangers of unsafe driving are an integral part of the sophomore Health course on Driver's Ed along with the Junior and Senior Health classes. Topics that are covered include:

  • the effects of alcohol and blood-alcohol concentration levels for safe driving.
  • the difference between over-the counter medicine and prescription medicines.
  • the traffic laws governing the use of alcohol.
  • driving inattention takes place when a driver’s focus and attention are not on the driving task for any reason.
  • myths and truths of alcohol use and how alcohol effects your blood alcohol level for safe driving.
  • when buying any medicines they must read the label for warnings that affect safe driving.
  • how levels of alcohol impairment can be detected and measured.
  • how driving distractions can be cognitive, visual, auditory, or bio mechanical.