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High School Evacuation Site Approved at Board of Education Meeting

Christopher Harewood

Wednesday, May 28, 2014 • 11:11pm

WEST ORANGE, NJ - The West Orange Board of Education reviewed approvals and responded to parent concerns about education in the meeting that took place May 27.

BOE members addressed questions from residents regarding the reinstatement of several supervisory positions. As part of unfunded state requirements for teacher evaluations, and the implementation of the district's Marzano Model to comply, Dr. Donna Rando explained that each teacher must have 3 evaluations per year. With 800 teachers in the school system, that represents 2,400 evaluations per year, not including pre and post reports.

The West Orange Armory was approved as the high school's evacuation site. "We are required to have evacuation sites for all of our schools," Laura Lab said.  "The armory is the closest facility that can hold 2,300 kids."

The grant application for the New Jersey Child Assault Prevention project was also approved for the 2014-2015 school year. The CAP program aims to reduce the abuse of children through bullying, known adults, and strangers through training programs and other educational formats.

Laura Lab reported that the WOHS Air Force Jr. ROTC was instrumental in the Memorial Day Celebration at Town Hall on May 26. "They did a fantastic Job," Lab said.  

An AP Recognition award reception also took place for students in AP programs who received scores of 3, 4, or 5 an AP exams.  In addition, Scholarship Night was set for May 29 in the auditorium at West Orange High School beginning at 7 P.M. The scholarships will be distributed under the direction of the West Orange Scholarship Fund and approximately $33,500 in scholarships from organizations and individuals across the township will be distributed.

Board members Laura Lab, Mark Robertson and Sandra Mordecai attended the School Board Assembly Delegation on May 17 and participated in a discussion regarding the NJEA Teacher's convention in November. Only 9% of the state teachers attended last year's convention, but public schools are closed for two Professional Development days. 

"The School district needs to have control over the allocation of those days," said board member Mark Robertson. The idea of having the convention during the summer recess was suggested but no decisions were made.

The board also discussed the issue of the School Choice Act (NJSA 18A:36B-14, and NJAC 6A:12-1), which authorizes school districts to act as "choice schools" to accept and educate students from different school districts (sending districts). The SCA was enacted to increase options for parents/students in selecting a school that best meets the needs of of the student. It was recently amended by the New Jersey Department of Education to limit the growth of choice schools to 5% for the 2014-2015 school year, a measure reproved by the School Board Assembly Delegation.

One parent expressed concern about preparation for the upcoming PARCC exams, arguing that they were a lot different than what children were used to and wanted to know the board's thoughts on it.  The West Orange School districted piloted PARCC testing at some of the schools, representing elementary, middle and high. 

The PARCC exam - short for the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers - is being implemented for students in kindergarten through the 12th grade in participating states. PARCC is in the process of revision and is scheduled to be administered during the 2014-2015 year.

The next Board of Education meeting is scheduled for June 9 beginning at 8 P.M. in the Library Media Center at West Orange High School.

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