The NJSBA Board of Directors met virtually on Friday, March 19, 2021. President Mike McClure presided over the meeting from the Association’s headquarters in Trenton. Executive Director Dr. Lawrence S. Feinsod provided his report to the board from headquarters.
Action Items: The Board of Directors approved the following items:
- NJSBA 2021-2022 Budget
- Open session minutes of 2/5/21
- Legislative Committee Appointments
Executive Director’s Report – Dr. Feinsod addressed NJSBA activities and the progress made in enabling school districts to meet the challenges presented by the public health crisis, ensuring that members continue to benefit from essential training, advocacy, and direct service.
- County Meetings – In keeping with his commitment to participate in 21 county meetings this year, Dr. Feinsod has attended the meetings of 18 counties so far. He highlighted the upcoming county meetings for students that the counties hold every spring. This year the programs will be held virtually. The “Unsung Heroes” program, which focuses on students who have overcome significant obstacles to success in schools, and the “8th Grade Dialogue” programs, where select groups of students, who are about to begin high school, talk about their experiences and their views on education. The board members were shown a video sneak preview of the 8th grade students from Gloucester and Camden counties.
- Association and State Budget Updates – The proposed NJSBA budget for the next school year (2021-2022) represents a 1.9% increase over last year’s budget, and for the 12th consecutive year, does not raise dues for the NJSBA membership.
Committee hearings are currently being conducted on the governor’s proposed budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1. The NJSBA provided input to the Murphy administration as the budget was being developed, and is continuing to advocate for members by giving testimony on the spending plan. Some highlights of the proposed budget include adding $578 million in formula aid; $25 million more for Extraordinary Special Education Aid; a new $75 million capital maintenance and emergent needs program in the Schools Development Authority; funding for preschool education; and calls for $50 million in Stabilization Aid, which will help districts that are adjusting to new funding levels as determined by the school funding reform measure enacted in 2018. NJSBA is also expressing in its testimony a need for aid to some districts to address the increased costs experienced from the Chapter 44 health care reform law.
- Advocacy Update – In one of its pandemic special reports, NJSBA detailed a Pandemic Advocacy Agenda – changes in the law and regulation that would enable boards of education to serve the needs of their students during this health crisis. Significant progress has been made in achieving several of the legislative goals in that agenda, including S-2691 that allows school districts to maintain a 4% surplus for the 2020-2021 and the 2021-2022 school years, which was signed by the governor last week. The transfer of those funds between line items and program categories in budgets will not require the approval of the New Jersey Commissioner of Education. The measure will give districts considerably more flexibility to handle unexpected events. Also on March 1, A-4461/S-2698 requiring the state to enter into contracts and coordinate with certain cooperative purchasing systems to assist public schools in the purchase of COVID-19 related goods and services, passed in the state Assembly and is now on the governor’s desk.
- NJSBA’s COVID Response – NJSBA closely tracks how well we engage with our members and members of the public through our social media and other online channels. For example, the website has had 1.2 million page views since last March – some 200,000 more than the previous year. The website also had 303,000 site users, up from 250,000 the previous year; content from the Facebook account has been viewed 413,738 times in the last year, while our Facebook Live videos have been viewed 84,791 times; and 69 webinars were conducted in the last year and have been viewed by members of 463 individual districts, which is nearly 80% of our membership.
- New Jersey Public School Labor Management Collaborative – On March 24, the N.J. Public Schools Labor Management Collaborative will hold its inter-district meeting and will welcome U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona and National Education Association President Becky Pringle. Phil Murphy and Acting Commissioner of Education Dr. Angelica Allen-McMillan are also expected to participate. This program encourages greater collaboration between unions and management to strengthen and improve teaching and learning, and has been found to lead to better student outcomes.
- Post-Pandemic Initiatives – The ELFNJ Board of Trustees recently approved a grant of $25,118 to NJSBA that will enable it to acquire the hardware and software necessary to create a virtual component at county meetings when they can once again be held in-person. The purchase also includes additional tablets, Swoogo Event software and Zoom licenses, all of which will help in the post-pandemic era to provide a virtual alternative for members at in-person events.
- NJSBA Strategic Plan – In the coming months, NJSBA will be developing a new Strategic Plan. Prior to the next Board of Directors Meeting on May 7, NJSBA will be sending out a survey to members of the Board of Directors to solicit their input on what they see as the Association’s strengths and challenges.
- Workshop 2021 – The difficult decision has been made to hold only a virtual Workshop this October. The decision was based on data from a member survey, financial projections, and feedback from potential sponsors and exhibitors. It is a decision that both ensures the health and safety of members and staff, and protects the Association from sustaining a projected financial loss in excess of $100,000. The 2020 virtual conference was a resounding success. It attracted 6,000 participants who were able to access more than 100 sessions and nearly 140 exhibitors. Virtual Workshop 2021 is anticipated to exceed those high numbers.
Board members also received more detailed reports from NJSBA staff on the following items: Workshop 2021, advocacy initiatives and the proposed 2021-2022 NJSBA budget.
Emily Cannon, of the Pittsgrove Township Board of Education, was sworn in as a new member representing Salem County.
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.
Information items included association financials, revisions to GO/4117R – Separation/Disciplinary Action, a legal case summary, and nominees for NJSBA officers’ positions.