The NJSBA Board of Directors met on Friday, Jan. 17, 2020, at the Association’s headquarters in Trenton.
Action Items The Board of Directors approved the following action items:
- Request from the Educational Leadership Foundation of New Jersey, NJSBA’s non-profit arm, for a grant in the amount of $50,000 for fiscal year 2019-2020 to continue support for New Jersey’s successful digital learning initiative. The funds come from administrative fees for the Association’s energy-purchasing program, the Alliance for Competitive Energy Services, which can only be granted to non-profit organizations for education-related efforts.
NJSBA’s grant will be matched by a two-year $200,000 allocation from the New Jersey Department of Education. The Sustainability Institute at The College of New Jersey, which will administer the program, will cover other costs estimated at $192,000. This program advances digital learning and assists schools in securing and implementing technology. A feature of the New Jersey program is the awarding of certification that recognizes schools’ and districts’ progress. That distinction has promoted a name change to Digital Ready – NJ.
- NJSBA 2020-2021 Advocacy Agenda
- Open session minutes of the November 15, 2019 Board of Directors meeting
- NJSBA Legislative Committee appointments
- NJSBA Resolutions Subcommittee appointments
Executive Director’s Report Dr. Lawrence S. Feinsod provided a report on NJSBA activities and progress toward the goals of the current strategic plan.
- Mental Health Services– To build upon the work of the Task Force on Mental Health Services in the Public Schools, NJSBA has created a Health and Wellness Committee.The first meeting will take place on Jan. 27 and will involve a steering committee of 19. On Feb. 18, a meeting of the full committee, consisting of 39 members appointed by NJSBA President Mike McClure, and resource persons, will take place.
- Educational Equity – In 2019, NJSBA established the NJSBA Equity Council. The Council has addressed subjects ranging from inherent bias to the need for a diversified teaching workforce. A significant amount of NJSBA training is being focused on educational equity. On Saturday, Feb. 8, the Field Services staff will conduct three regional leadership forums simultaneously that will help school boards understand their critical role in developing a vision for equity in their districts. A statewide conference is planned for later this year. In addition, numerous programs at Workshop 2019, including the N.J. Commissioner of Education’s keynote presentation, centered on educational equity.
- Association Management System (Cobalt) – NJSBA’s new Association Management System will go live during the week of Jan. 20 with minimal interruption to members. The new system will provide improved data collection and member access to course completion and certification records.
- NJSBA Online University – To improve the quality of its online programs, NJSBA has partnered with the Rutgers Division of Continuing Studies, a national leader in web-based training. NJSBA’s Online University will be launched on Feb. 3, with completely revamped governance programs, using a new Learning Management System that is compatible with Cobalt, is user-friendly, and gives members the ability to track online course completion.
Dr. Feinsod also reported on recent developments at NJSBA, including the following:
- Career-Focused Learner– The NJSBA Career-Focused Learner Ambassadors Group, created to advance the work of the Task Force on Education Opportunities for the Non-College-Bound Learner, will hold its first meeting on Saturday, Jan. 25. The Ambassadors will speak to local boards of education and other groups about the needs of career-focused students, current opportunities, and how school districts can expand educational options.
- School Board Recognition Month –January is School Board Recognition Month in New Jersey. President McClure and Dr. Feinsod attended the Jan. 8 State Board of Education meeting, during which they accepted a resolution honoring New Jersey’s 5,000 local board of education members. Gov. Murphy and Lt. Gov. Sheila Oliver also issued a proclamation expressing appreciation for the work of local school boards.
- NJSBA-U.S. Army Partnership– NJSBA’s unique partnership with the U.S. Army is designed to advance STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, math) education in the schools. As part of the agreement, the Army places a STEAM education fellow on the NJSBA staff at no cost. This month, Sgt. Joe Wittmer, the STEAM Education Fellow for the past year and a half, has been re-assigned. Dr. Feinsod expressed appreciation for Sgt. Wittmer’s contributions to the STEAM Tank Challenge and other efforts. The new U.S. Army STEAM fellow is Sgt. First Class Edwin Morel.
Advocacy Update The Executive Director’s report included an update on advocacy provided by the NJSBA’s Governmental Relations Department. The update referenced legislation that moved in the final days of the legislative session, which ended Jan. 13. A new legislative session begins on Tuesday, Jan. 21, with the expected reintroduction or new versions of several bills that were not approved, including the vaccination bill. Members were also reminded of deadlines for grantsto promote consolidation and shared services.
The governor’s budget address will take place on Feb. 25.
Recognition The Board of Directors recognized three new members, Dana Krug, West Windsor-Plainsboro Board of Education, member representing Mercer County; Sheila Etienne, Asbury Park Board of Education, alternate representing the Urban Boards Committee; and, Jon-Henry Barr, Union County Vocational Board of Education, alternate representing County Vocational Boards.
In addition, the board received reports from the president, vice president for finance, vice president for legislation/resolutions, and immediate past president.
Information items included Association financials, legal case summary, written reports from the NJSBA president and Officers, schedule of NJSBA holidays (July 1, 2020-June 30,2021); the governor’s proclamation honoring local school boards, and the New Jersey State Board of Education’s resolution recognizing January as School Board Recognition Month.