In a virtual meeting Saturday morning, NJSBA delegates elected leaders, approved two resolutions and heard a comprehensive report on goals and activities during the past year from Executive Director Dr. Lawrence S. Feinsod.

During the semi-annual Delegate Assembly, attendees elected the following slate of officers, who ran unopposed:

  • President: Irene M. LeFebvre, Boonton Town Board of Education, Morris County.
  • Vice President for County Activities: Bruce R. Young, Carlstadt-East Rutherford Board of Education, Bergen County.
  • Vice President for Finance: Tammeisha D. Smith, Knowlton Township Board of Education, Warren County.
  • Vice President for Legislation/Resolutions: Karen Cortellino, Montville Township Board of Education, Morris County.

“One of the great strengths of this Association has always been the quality of our leadership,” Feinsod said, “and this slate of officers is no exception. Irene, Karen, Tammy and Bruce are incredibly dedicated to the young people of our state and to our public schools. They are exceptional human beings.”

Feinsod also praised the service of outgoing president Mike McClure of Maple Shade, Burlington County, who will now become the NJSBA’s Immediate Past President.

“It has been a pleasure to work alongside Mike,” Feinsod said, “and I have appreciated his amazing commitment, his insights and his wise counsel. Mike has a firm belief in the need for a strong system of public education, and a burning desire to promote the achievement of all students.”

Two resolutions were also approved. The first resolution concerned efforts to create an inclusive environment for all students. It read as follows:

“The NJSBA believes that local school boards and districts should make all necessary and appropriate efforts to raise awareness, employ best practices, and create an inclusive, safe and positive school climate for all students, including, but not limited to, those that are actual or perceived as being lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning, or other sexual orientation, gender identity or expression.”

The second approved resolution was proposed by the NJSBA Special Education Committee. This new policy language was approved:

The NJSBA believes that trained non-lawyer parent advocates provide a valuable service to parents and students. Mandatory training of non-lawyer parent advocates is essential to protect the interests of parents, students and districts. Training for parent advocates should result in an understanding of the appropriate role of a parent advocate as well as the requirements of federal and state special education laws and regulations; IEP development, and conflict resolution. Training should be ongoing. The state should provide  funding for such training.

No Dues Increase  During the meeting, Feinsod told delegates that the NJSBA would have no dues increase for the 12th consecutive year while maintaining effective training programs, legislative advocacy, consultation with field service representatives, and communications products such as School Board Notes, Print Notes, School Leader and special reports.

Additional highlights from the report from the Executive Director included:

  • NJSBA has also helped boards save money in other ways, freeing up dollars for the classroom, Feinsod told the delegates. More than 400 school boards participate in NJSBA’s ACES program, saving more than $250 million in energy costs over the past decade.
  • NJSBA’s Cooperative Pricing Program has also provided valuable opportunities for school districts to save money during the past year on COVID-19 goods and services, on technology and cybersecurity solutions, on the Canvas online learning management system, and on telecommunications and IT audits.
  • Most recently, the NJSBA has launched the NJSBA Online University. Beginning in June, the Association will offer 100 courses for professional development credit. The courses will allow all members of the educational community to access learning at their own pace, at a time convenient for them. See a story on the Online University in today’s School Board Notes.

Workshop 2021  The NJSBA decided in March to hold Workshop virtually in 2021. That decision was based on data from a survey of members, feedback from potential sponsors and exhibitors, and financial projections – which estimated a loss to the Association in excess of $100,000 if Workshop were held in-person in Atlantic City. The virtual Workshop will feature three days of training sessions, keynote presentations, a live exhibit hall, and enhanced networking opportunities. All sessions will be recorded and available to attendees for a month following the conference.

The website is live online and Workshop registration, as noted in an email to the membership, is now open. Group registration will be the same price as last year, and registration allows boards to bring up to 25 people from the district to the conference. See an article on Workshop registration in today’s School Board Notes

Increased Online Presence  NJSBA’s website has had 1.2 million page views from March 2020 to March 2021—some 200,000 more than the previous year. It also has had 303,000 site users, up from 250,000 the previous year. Content from the NJSBA Facebook account has been viewed 428,223 times since mid-March last year. Meanwhile, NJSBA’s Facebook Live videos – featuring 91 programs since March of 2020 – have been viewed 91,984 times. The Association has conducted 88 webinars. Those programs have been viewed by members in 465 individual districts, which is 80% of the NJSBA’s membership.

District Challenges  In closing his report to the Delegate Assembly, Feinsod noted the challenges boards have faced.

“Nothing about this pandemic has been easy, and the effects of the past 14 months will be felt for years to come,” Feinsod told the delegates. “We know that the next several months will continue to present many challenges for boards. Please know that NJSBA will be right there alongside you, providing the resources, training, and advocacy you need to serve your students and your communities. Thank you for your commitment to New Jersey’s children. Always remember that your decisions truly affect the lives of each and every child in your district.”