WEST ORANGE, NJ - In a 90 minute Board of Education meeting at Hazel School that focused on beginning of the school year ups and downs, Hazel Fifth Grade Chorus students opened the meeting with Pledge of Allegiance, the Star Spangled Banner and America the Beautiful, and high school students were acknowledged for receiving Gold Medals in a national Family Sciences competition.
Board of Education meetings typically begin with audience members raising questions about the agenda, which is usually posted on the BOE website with allowable attachments the day of the meeting. Questions arose as to increased cost of re-pointing and waterproofing of the Roosevelt Middle School roof in the amount of $32,250.00, due to the discovery of damaged bricks, gutters and lintels caused by water damage.
Interim Superintendent James O'Neill recognized three students, Tricia Elias, Melissa Dennis and Casey Kriak, for receiving Gold Medals in Orlando, Florida over the summer in a Family, Career, and Community Leaders of America Conference (FCCLA) in Orlando, Florida. Their project, "Fire Safety for Preschoolers" won not only state but national recognition.
Mr. O'Neill also acknowledged that there has been some problems with busing in the school district since the start of school, but the district and transportation have been working to resolve them.
Board members then shared reports. The high school has a new traffic pattern for parent pick up and drop off; the Toe Touch Cheerleaders Club is having a Pancake Breakfast on Saturday, 9/29 in the Tarnoff Cafeteria ($8.00 for adults and $5.00 for children 12 and under); the Y is offering a free Health and Wellness nutrition course at Hazel School starting in October (check the district website for more information); several HS students were accepted this into NJ regional bands: 11 into the NJ Symphonic Band, 5 into the Region 1 Symphonic Band, 4 into the NJ Regional choir, and 1 into the NJ Regional 1 orchestra. Future recognition at a BOE is planned.
Some school year statistics: West Orange comprises 13 square miles. 4,412 public school students are bused, which equates to 65% of the school population. 642 non public school children are bused; 361 students receive aid in lieu of busing; and 90 spec ed students are bused out of district. There are 434 new students this year in West Orange schools and 458 new Kindergarten students. There are 6,930 students in district, 131 over last year, and more are coming in. There are 874 teachers and 112 support staff, not including aides. The Nursing Plan for the district was approved, along with various resignations, recissions, and appointments.
School is closed Wednesday, September 26, for Yom Kippur.
Public comment began with issues regarding an AP Anatomy and Physiology course at the high with glitches in teacher certification potentially affecting students' ability to take the AP exam; the bus for the marching band competition did not arrive as expected but the problem was solved by the district and Vanderhoof bus in time to get the kids there; transcripts for seniors should be available at this time through their junior year; the high school cell phone policy may go under review as technology changes (currently cell phones are not allowed to be used); the parking situation and teacher attendance at the HS Back to School Night were brought up (not enough parking and several teachers not present). Lastly, hippotheraphy (horse therapy for spec ed students, mandated by study teams) was questioned, and a question arose about the status of the contract resolution with Dr. Anthony Cavanna. Mr. Christiano, Board Attorney, responded that they were hopeful that a resolution was 'imminent' but did not expound upon that.
The next meeting is scheduled for October 8, 2012, 8:00 pm, at St. Cloud School. Tonight's meeting will be televised on 36/45.