The NJSBA Board of Directors met on Friday, May 10, 2019, at the Association’s headquarters in Trenton.
Action Items: The Board of Directors approved the open and closed session minutes of the March 15, 2019 Board of Directors meeting, the NJSBA Legislative Committee appointments, a $50,000 donation to Sustainable Jersey for Schools and revisions to GO Policy/4131.3, Tuition Reimbursement Advance Eligibility.
Executive Director’s Report
Dr. Lawrence S. Feinsod provided a year-end report on NJSBA activities and progress toward the goals of the current strategic plan.
- Rutgers University Division of Continuing Studies Partnership – NJSBA is entering into a partnership with the Rutgers University Division of Continuing Studies. This agreement marks the beginning of the NJSBA Online University, an activity that is directly related to three goal areas of the NJSBA Strategic Plan: Building a “Future Ready” Association; enhancing direct services, and making training more accessible. Rutgers will provide in-kind services to develop 14 courses. The online programs will cover mandated training and other professional development areas. Our goals are to expand course offerings for board members and make training available to a larger audience, including school district IT directors, facility managers and personnel administrators.
- Donation to Sustainable Jersey for Schools — The Board of Directors approved a $50,000 donation to Sustainable Jersey for Schools. Sustainable Jersey for Schools is one of NJSBA’s longest-standing and most successful collaborations. Today, more than 56%, or 328 of the state’s operating school districts, are members of the free program. In fiscal year 2018 alone, Sustainable Jersey awarded over $330,000 in grants to local school districts. Since its founding, the program has provided $1.8 million in grants. Thanks to Sustainable Jersey, our state’s public schools have implemented over 3,900 actions in areas such as energy efficiency, waste management, healthy school environment, student and staff wellness, and student learning.
- NJSBA Website: Future Ready — Three years ago, NJSBA launched its new website. A recent analysis by the NJSBA marketing unit, which tracks website activity, shows a 40% increase in traffic to NJSBA.org over the past year. The site is a valuable information source for school board members, other public officials, the news media, parents and other citizens who care about education.
- Workshop 2019 — At the March meeting, Dr. Feinsod, executive director, announced that the Workshop 2019 speaker will be Ian Hockley. Ian founded a non-profit group called “Dylan’s Wings of Change” and named the group in honor of his son, who was one of the children killed in the Sandy Hook mass shooting. The organization works to develop youth leadership in schools through a program called “Wingman,” which teaches children to be empathetic, courageous and inclusive. Last month, we announced a collaborative effort with the foundation to provide resources on social and emotional skill development for New Jersey schools and districts. The partnership includes the introduction of the Wingman program to 17 schools in New Jersey. The Educational Leadership Foundation of New Jersey will also offer several no-cost Wingman Workshops to school board members later in 2019. Workshop 2019 is scheduled for Monday, Oct. 21 through Thursday, Oct. 24 and will feature more than 250 training and information sessions, including expanded Monday programming. Information, including program and hotel registration, is available on the Workshop website.
- Advocacy — Governor Murphy signed a bill that would expand the pool of qualified candidates for Class 3 special law enforcement officers – a viable lower-cost option to employing traditional school resource officers. Another new law will require arbitrators in tenure cases to receive training on “unbecoming conduct,” particularly when it involves sexual assault and child abuse. The NJSBA alerted lawmakers to the need for the training after arbitrators allowed staff to return to the classroom after engaging in questionable activities. In addition, the State Board of Education is considering revisions to certification requirements that would give flexibility to candidates for the Career and Technical Education (CTE) endorsement. This reflects a recommendation of the NJSBA Task Force on Educational Opportunities for the Non-College-Bound Learner. These changes are expected to increase the pool of CTE teachers, who are currently in limited supply.
Other pending legislative items:
- S-59 – Requires municipalities to share certain payments received in lieu of property taxes with school districts; informs counties and school districts of application for property tax exemption.
- S-2436 – Directs the Board of Public Utilities (BPU) to develop and implement electric school bus pilot program
- Amendments to certification of vendors who provide mold remediation and removal
- Joint Committee of Public Schools did not move on the 11th grade testing issue
The Board of Directors recognized retiring Immediate Past President Don Webster, who has served as an officer on the NJSBA Board of Directors since 2010, in the position of Vice President for Finance from 2010 to 2014, President from 2014 to 2019 and Immediate Past President from 2017 to 2019. Webster made significant contributions to the New Jersey School Boards Association’s mission to advance public education through his leadership of the 2014 School Security Task Force, the Task Force on Educational Opportunities for the Non-College-Bound Learner, the 2018 School Security Committee, and other Association committees, all while continuing to fulfill his responsibilities as president to his local board of education.
The board also recognized retiring Vice President for County Activities Christy Tighe; Eileen Miller, member representing Salem County; Ray Morris, member representing Sussex County; and Helen Kirsch, member representing Union County.
The board acknowledged a new alternate member, Jacqueline McAlister, who will represent Cape May County.
School Board Members of the Year Tribute
President Sinclair announced the creation of the School Board Member of the Year photo display in the NJSBA headquarters first floor conference room. During the public comment session at the March Board of Directors meeting, it was suggested that we honor the state’s school board members of the year in the same way as the NJSBA past presidents, with a photo display. The new display, with photographs of the 14 New Jersey school board members of the year, was unveiled. There will also be a luncheon for the past Board Member of the Year recipients on May 22, who will have the opportunity to view the display.
In addition, the Board of Directors received reports from the president, immediate past president, vice president for county activities, and vice president for finance.
Information items included Association financials, May 18, 2019 DA Update; GO/4131.3R, Tuition Reimbursement Advance Eligibility; legal case summary; information on Legislative Day, May 16, 2019; NJSBA President and Officers’ reports, and special education week proclamation.