Board to Consider Official Vote on Franklin Modular Classroom Trailers; Funding of Middle School Renovations Studied
Friday, July 13, 2012 • 6:42am
SUMMIT, NJ—The board of education is expected to take more formal actions at its meeting on Thursday to put into place the board’s temporary solutions to the space issues at Franklin School.
School Business Administrator Louis Pepe announced at this Thursday’s workshop meeting of the school body that the agenda for the regular meeting on Thursday, July 16, is expected to include votes to move along the placement of modular classroom trailers at Franklin and possible funding for architectural work in conjunction with the temporary solutions to the capacity issues at the school.
In addition, operations committee chairman Ed Mokuvos announced the committee had started discussions on long-term solutions to the Franklin issues along with the effects possible renovations to the middle school and institution of full-day kindergarten might have on both space allocations in the district as a whole and on the school body’s debt picture.
He also asked Pepe to meet with the city’s chief financial officer, Scott Olsen, who also serves as treasurer of school moneys, to get a clearer picture on the amount of allowable overall debt Summit is allowed to carry in order to figure out where the various school capital outlay projects fit into the city’s financial picture.
On another facet of the full-day kindergarten issue, Celia Colbert, who chairs the board’s education committee said her group has begun discussing the role it will play in exploring the full-day issue and it will meet again next month to prepare for a board discussion of the issue at the September workshop meeting.
Colbert also announced both general education and special education students in Summit had scored near the 100th percentile in the first round of the state HESPA standardized tests.
Assistant Superintendent of Schools Julie Glazer said the results of the second round of the tests should be announced by the end of this month.
On educational achievement, board president George Lucaci noted the focus of the national No Child Left Behind Act has changed from requiring national achievement targets to more emphasis on the number of students prepared to attend college and those taking advanced placement courses.
He also said there seems to be a lack of knowledge among some Summit residents that the city district, like many school districts, is dealing with an achievement gap.
The role of parents in helping students perform better in school led to a lively discussion among Lucaci, Superintendent of Schools Nathan Parker and board member Katherine Kalin about parent involvement in the light of socio-economic factors and the fact that parents in two-job households face some difficulties in devoting the time needed to meet the academic achievement needs of their children.
On another issue, Lucaci noted the state legislature has adopted a tenure reform bill calling for teacher tenure to be moved from three to four years, better monitoring of teacher performance and new forms of teacher evaluation.
He noted Governor Chris Christie still has not signed the measure into law because he feels it does not go far enough.
Summit, the board president added, already has changed its teacher evaluation procedures.
Two items involving athletics are expected to draw the board’s attention in the coming months.
Mokuvos said the education body is looking into the role played by private funding of athletics and athletic-related activities in light of the board policy that says the body has no commitment to continue a particular privately-funded activity if the private funding should stop.
He noted the board is taking a closer look at private funding of various athletics-related activities.
For example, the music boosters funded and continue to support a trailer that carries the away band’s equipment but the board helps to maintain the trailer.
Kalen noted the board is considering an amendment to its athletics policy that would excuse those participating in varsity sports from an obligation to take physical education classes.
She said athletes might be permitted to take a study hall instead of physical education.
Lucaci pointed out that many athletes, in addition to participating in their own sports, also spend a great deal of time in practices and in attending sporting events of younger athletes.
On another matter, Parker announced the board probably would introduce and vote next week on a new communications specialist to replace Catherine Fernandez, who retired last month after 25 years with the Summit district.
He said the person who will be recommended to the board has considerable experience in the promotions area of the private sector and is expected to bring a great deal of marketing expertise in enhancing Summit’s reputation among organizations rating the achievements of schools and marketing the city’s schools to college organizations.
Thursday’s workshop session was the first to be held in the Summit High School Media Center.
Lucaci said the new location is more comfortable than the board meeting room at the Wilson Primary Center, and the high school provides more parking for those attending the sessions.