The New Jersey School Boards Association’s board of directors met virtually Friday, Nov. 19, 2021, with President Irene LeFebvre presiding over the meeting from the Association’s headquarters in Trenton.

Immediate Past President McClure also participated in the meeting from Association headquarters. Vice Presidents Smith and Young participated virtually. Vice President Cortellino was not present. Executive Director Dr. Lawrence S. Feinsod provided his report to the board from headquarters.

The board of directors approved the following items:

  • The 2020-2021 audit.
  • NJSBA 2022-2024 strategic plan.
  • Sending revisions to GO/9320, Officers Qualifications and Terms of Office, to the Resolutions Subcommittee for approval to be presented at the May 14 Delegate Assembly.
  • Open session minutes of the Oct. 1, 2021, meeting.

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

Board of Education Meetings  For the past seven weeks, NJSBA has been responding to inquiries both from board members and members of the public concerned about the National School Boards Association’s acting executive director sending a letter to the Biden administration urging the federal government to respond to harassment and threats to board members and others in the education community. The letter has been interpreted, in some cases, as an attack on parents and citizens voicing concerns at board of education meetings.

On Nov. 6, NJSBA sent an email to members clarifying its views on the issue. In it, NJSBA expressed its disapproval of NSBA’s statement, and is working within the organization to ensure that such a situation does not happen again. On Wednesday, the NSBA announced the appointment of a new executive director, replacing the person who had been serving as interim leader. NJSBA is hopeful that productive changes will now occur at NSBA.

Virtual Workshop 2021  NJSBA received extremely positive feedback from board members and others in the education community. More than 5,000 registrants participated in Workshop 2021. In addition, when the speakers, sponsors, exhibitors, Wind Down program guests and the parents who attended virtually for the STEAM Tank event are added in, the conference touched several hundred more. It also met its financial goals.

By popular demand, registrants have until Dec. 28 to watch or re-watch any sessions simply by logging back into the Workshop website.

Hybrid County School Boards Association Meetings The fall roster of  “hybrid” county school boards association meetings is well underway and on Nov. 10, the Essex County School Boards Association meeting had some distinguished guests, including Lt. Gov. Sheila Oliver, Acting Commissioner of Education Dr. Angelica Allen-McMillan, 2021-2022 New Jersey Teacher of the Year Theresa Maughan, and Maura Baker, a student at West Orange High School and the student representative to the New Jersey State Board of Education. A brief video excerpt from the meeting was shown.

Online University Hub NJSBA has formally introduced its Online University Hub, an online professional development academy for educators in partnership with the New Jersey Association of School Administrators. The program will offer engaging and interactive e-learning courses to all K-12 public school district stakeholders. The Online University Hub will deliver a subscription-based, remote learning center of more than 100 courses across 30-plus learning paths that support timely topics in education.

SHI, a Somerset, New Jersey-based company that serves districts and businesses with integrated IT services, and Eduscape of Montvale, New Jersey, a nationally recognized leader in K-12 professional development and innovation, are the private industry partners that will facilitate the program.

The Association will continue to offer its NJSBA Online University, where our members can complete their mandated training courses and receive other board-focused professional development.

Redefined Organizational Structure for NJSBA  As part of NJSBA’s moving forward efforts, a year-long examination of the structure and processes of the Association, an internal reorganization has been undertaken. There are now five divisions:

  1. Executive Office – consisting of the executive director, deputy executive director, chief public affairs officer, educator-in-residence, general counsel, governmental relations, human resources, member engagement and county activity services.
  2. Communications, Information Technology and Marketing
  3. Finance and Operations
  4. Professional Learning – consisting of the Training, Field Services and Legal and Policy Services divisions
  5. Members Services and Strategic Partnerships

This new structure will increase collaboration and efficiency, while maintaining the high standard of service provided to our members.

The NJSBA Strategic Plan  The process for developing the NJSBA 2022-2024 Strategic Plan involved stakeholder input, identification of the organization’s strengths and challenges, and the setting of goals and objectives. The attitudes of the general membership and the staff were assessed through surveys sent out last summer.

Five goal areas were developed:

  1. Impacting opportunities for student growth.
  2. Services for tomorrow’s world.
  3. Professional learning for effective governance.
  4. Partnering in public education advocacy.
  5. Future innovation and advancements in technology.

The next step will be to develop action plans and a timeline to implement the goal areas.

Recognition of Retiring and New Members

The following new alternate members 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: Addie Lane, Trenton Board of Education, alternate representing Mercer County; and Diane Morris, Mine Hill Board of Education, alternate representing Morris County.

The Board of Directors also received reports from the president, vice president for finance, vice president for legislation/resolutions, and immediate past president, and detailed reports from NJSBA staff on the 2022-2024 strategic plan, advocacy and legislation, and Virtual Workshop 2021.

Information items included Association financials, legal case summary, member dues update 2021-2022, NJSBA Delegate Assembly update, and written reports from officers.