The NJSBA Board of Directors met virtually Friday, Oct. 1, 2021. President Irene LeFebvre presided over the meeting from the Association’s headquarters in Trenton. Immediate Past President Mike McClure participated in the meeting from Association headquarters. Vice Presidents Tammeisha D. Smith and Dr. Karen Cortellino participated virtually. Vice President Bruce Young was not present. Executive Director Dr. Lawrence S. Feinsod provided his report to the board from headquarters.
Action Items: The Board of Directors approved the following items:
- Extension of payment of dues for Board of Director members’ boards
- Annual ACES grant request from Education Leadership Foundation of New Jersey
- Open session minutes of the May 7, 2021, meeting
- Closed session minutes of the May 7, 2021, meeting
- NJSBA legislative committee appointments
- NJSBA resolution subcommittee 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.
Board of Education Meetings There is a disturbing trend that boards throughout the country – including New Jersey – are dealing with at times; highly contentious school board meetings. The issues that are triggering this include mask mandates, misconceptions about the teaching of critical race theory, and debates about the COVID-19 vaccine.
In response to this, the National School Boards Association sent a letter to President Biden this week asking the federal government for assistance in stopping threats and acts of violence against board members, schoolchildren, and public school district officials and educators. The assistance requested is for help monitoring threat levels.
NJSBA’s response included an Op-Ed in NJ.com, titled “Parents, Please Be Civil at School Board Meetings” by Dr. Feinsod, which made the case for the importance of restoring civility at board meetings. County school boards association meetings this fall have had presentations on dealing with board meetings in turbulent times – and more are on the schedule. NJSBA has provided resources to boards in the form of handouts on how to talk about education equity and critical race theory, and leadership tips on dealing with a divided community.
NJSBA’s Newest Pandemic Report Last month, NJSBA released its latest study on education during the pandemic titled “Rebuilding Opportunities for Students,” its fifth since the pandemic began. The report looks at the challenges facing school districts and students in dealing with pandemic-related gaps in academic and social-emotional learning, and provides information on effective practices and programs, meeting the needs of special populations, the role of arts education in social-emotional learning, and directing coronavirus relief funding so that it has the optimal impact on growth and learning for students.
Labor Management Collaborative On Sept. 8, the U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona and the president of the National Education Association, Becky Pringle, visited the Delran School District in Burlington County to learn more about the New Jersey Public Schools Labor Management Collaborative, which NJSBA helped establish. The initiative encourages the collaboration between management and labor to positively impact student achievement.
Legislative Update In mid-August, NJSBA President LeFebvre, Executive Director Feinsod, and Director of Governmental Relations Jonathan Pushman attended a virtual meeting facilitated by the National School Boards Association with U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona.
President LeFebvre and Dr. Feinsod also participated in a meeting with New Jersey Senators Steve Sweeney and M. Teresa Ruiz, along with the leadership of the other education associations and unions to discuss the federal stimulus money. The senators were interested in learning about the ways in which districts intended to spend these funds.
There also was discussion of two significant pieces of legislation that have been enacted since the last NJSBA Board of Directors meeting in May. The Special Education ‘Aging Out’ Bill (s-3434/A-5366) was signed in June. NJSBA originally had concerns about the funding for this bill, however, it successfully obtained amendments to provide for funding. In addition, amendments to Chapter 44 (A-5825/A-3487) were enacted in early July. Among the provisions of this law is the requirement that boards and unions engage in negotiations to “substantially mitigate” any financial losses resulting from the implementation of Chapter 44, the law that addressed school employees’ health benefits coverage and payment obligations.
Hybrid County Meetings NJSBA rolled out its hybrid county meetings this summer. These hybrid meetings are designed to accommodate members who would like to be present in-person at meetings, as well as those who prefer to attend virtually. Virtual county meetings will be held in January and February to allow the counties to gather without worrying about rescheduling due to weather and any other possible issues.
Virtual Workshop 2021 Workshop 2021 is fast approaching. The range of programs scheduled for this year will address such timely topics as social-emotional health, equity and data security. Exciting keynote speakers are lined up who will motivate and educate all of us.
Member Engagement Since March 2020, the NJSBA website has received more than 1.7 million views; the Facebook page has more than 5,300 followers, which represents an increase of 67% since March 2020, and approximately 100 Facebook Live programs were presented. In the 18 months since the pandemic started, NJSBA has hosted 99 webinars, with 3,200 live attendees, and 2,200 attendees viewing the program recording later. NJSBA’s podcasts, Conversations on New Jersey Education, has had more than 300,000 views.
The NJSBA Strategic Plan The first of two virtual strategic planning sessions with board and staff members will be held Saturday, Oct. 2. The second planning session is scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 16. The completed plan will be presented to the Board of Directors at its Friday, Nov. 19 meeting.
Return to Headquarters On Oct. 4, all staff returned to the NJSBA headquarters in Trenton. The Association will operate on a hybrid schedule with all employees in the building Monday through Wednesday for “Collaboration Days,” with most working remotely on Thursdays and Fridays. A small number of employees will be in the headquarters office five days a week.
Recognition of Retiring & New Members
The following retiring members were recognized for their service to the New Jersey School Boards Association and the students of New Jersey: Naomi Davidson, alternate for Camden County; Charles Miller, alternate for Hunterdon County; and William Monk, member for the Urban Boards Committee.
The following new members and alternates and re-elected members and alternates were introduced.
All members attending took the Oath of Office.
- Camden County Alternate – Joseph Miller, Audubon Board of Education
- Cape May County Alternate – Thomas Belasco, West Cape May Board of Education
- Hunterdon County Alternate – Robert Imhoff, High Bridge Board of Education
- Gloucester County Member – Natalie Baker, Swedesboro Woolwich Board of Education
- Gloucester County Alternate – Michele Giaquinto Clearview Regional Board of Education
- Monmouth County Member – Al Miller, Howell Township Board of Education
- Ocean County Alternate – Stephanie Wohlrab, Brick Township Board of Education
- Sussex County Alternate – Ronald Hoffman, Hardyston Board of Education
- Urban Boards Alternate – Marsha Hershman, Lindenwold Board of Education (Camden County)
- Burlington County Member and Alternate – Harry Litwack and Erica Campbell
- Cape May County Member – Jacqueline McAlister
- Hunterdon County Member – Laurie Markowski
- Mercer County Member – Dana Krug
- Morris County Member – Paul Breda
- Ocean County Member – Richard Casey
- Somerset County Member and Alternate – Robert Morrison and Barry Walker
- Vocational Boards Member and Alternate – Elizabeth Martin and Jon-Henry Barr
- Warren County Member and Alternate – Paul Williams and Scott Nodes
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 legislation, Workshop 2021, and the revised GO/Regulation 6603.1R, NJSBA Board Member Academy.
Information items included Association Financials, NJSBA DA Update – November 2021, NSBA DA Resolutions, Executive Director’s Goals 2021-2022, GO6603.1R NJSBA Board Member Academy Revisions, Legal Case Summary, Member Dues Update 2021-2022 and Officers’ Reports.