The NJSBA Board of Directors met virtually on Friday, Jan. 28, 2022. Due to the impending winter storm, President Irene LeFebvre presided over the meeting virtually. Vice Presidents Bruce R. Young, Tammeisha D. Smith, Karen Cortellino, M.D., and Immediate Past President Michael R. McClure also participated virtually. Executive Director Dr. Lawrence S. Feinsod provided his report to the board virtually as well.

The Board of Directors approved the following items:

  • Proposed transfer to Building Needs Allocation Fund.
  • Open session minutes of the Nov. 19, 2021, meeting.
  • 2022-2023 advocacy agenda.
  • Legislative committee appointments.
  • Resolution subcommittee appointments.

Executive Director’s Report

Feinsod addressed NJSBA activities and the progress made in enabling school districts to meet the challenges presented to them, including those of the public health crisis, ensuring that members continue to benefit from essential training, advocacy and direct service.

School Board Recognition Month  At the end of December, the governor issued a proclamation declaring January to be School Board Recognition Month, and at the monthly meeting of the New Jersey State Board of Education, that group approved a resolution recognizing the contributions of local board members.

NJSBA is celebrating School Board Recognition Month by periodically spotlighting a local board member from the state in School Board Notes. The members featured are those who responded to a survey posted in the newsletter asking board members about their service and board accomplishments and how NJSBA has been a help to them. This feature will be continued throughout the year.

The video program, Education Matters, is also releasing three interviews that Ray Pinney , director of county activities and member engagement, did with longtime board members. The series is called “Two Centuries of Service,” which is how long these members have collectively served on their boards.

Both of these initiatives help humanize the work of local board members, and these stories are being promoted through NJSBA’s social media channels.

Wind Down Empowerment Series On Jan. 25, NJSBA debuted the Wind Down Empowerment Series. Initially featured at Workshop 2021, these sessions provide a forum where board members can gather virtually to informally discuss issues of concern with NJSBA staff experts and other board members. This initiative aligns with the objectives of the NJSBA Strategic Plan, which calls for the Association to encourage the sharing of ideas and best practices between members through small group and interactive participation. The meeting was well-attended, and the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. The Wind Down Sessions will be held throughout the year. The next one is scheduled for Feb. 24, 2022.

The Climate Change Education Thought Leaders Committee Report  In June 2020, New Jersey became the first state in the nation to incorporate K-12 climate change education across content areas when the New Jersey State Board of Education adopted the 2020 New Jersey Student Learning Standards.  In response, NJSBA and Sustainable Jersey joined forces to determine an appropriate plan for implementing these standards statewide. The result is a 35-page report that  details the key needs of districts implementing these standards, makes recommendations, and provides resources. NJSBA expects to release the report Monday, Feb. 7, at a Facebook Live Event and will make the full report available by posting it on the NJSBA website and circulating it to members.

2022-2023 Advocacy Agenda/Action Plan  The NJSBA Board of Directors unanimously approved the 2022-2023 Legislative Advocacy Agenda. NJSBA bylaws state that the Association shall adopt positions consistent with its policy; encourage, promote and assist in the development of local, county and statewide legislative networks; testify at meetings or hearings of the state Legislature and New Jersey State Board of Education, and initiate policy recommendations for consideration by the Board of Directors. Topic areas include accountability, advocacy, funding, local governance, school district staffing/collective bargaining, special education, student achievement and vocational education.

Executive Director Search Update

Feinsod has announced his plans to retire as executive director, effective July 1.  In the coming weeks,  LeFebvre and  McClure will form an Executive Director Search Committee, which will conduct a search and recommend a new executive director to the NJSBA Board of Directors, which must vote to approve the choice.

LeFebvre and McClure are committed to casting a wide net to find the right person who brings the right set of skills to the position – skills that will ensure that NJSBA  continues the progress that has been made under Dr. Feinsod’s leadership.

Recognition of Retiring and New Members

The following retiring members were recognized for their service to the NJSBA and the students of New Jersey: Joseph Steele, alternate for Bergen County; Shannon Cuttle, alternate for Essex County; Maria Mattiace, member for Hudson County; and Sheila Etienne, alternate for the Urban Boards Committee.

The following new members and alternates were introduced and were asked to take their oath of office, as well as members who were not present at the Oct. 1, reorganization meeting or the Nov. 19 meeting: Michael Jacobs, Ridgefield Board of Education alternate representing Bergen County; Jonathan Castaneda, West New York Board of Education member representing Hudson County; Cynthia Atkins, Roselle Board of Education alternate for the Urban Boards Committee; and Chanta Jackson, Neptune Township Board of Education alternate for the Urban Boards Committee.

The Board of Directors also received reports from the president, vice president for county activities, vice president for finance, vice president for legislation/resolutions, and immediate past president, and detailed reports from NJSBA staff on advocacy and legislation and Workshop 2022.

Information items included association financials, legal case summary, schedule of NJSBA holidays, School Board Recognition Month – New Jersey State Board of Education resolution, School Board Recognition Month – governor’s proclamation and written reports from officers.