The NJSBA Board of Directors met virtually on Friday, Sept. 25, 2020. 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:

  • Extension of dues payments for Board of Director member districts
  • Open session minutes of the May 8, 2020 Board of Directors meeting
  • Closed session minutes of the May 8, 2020 Board of Directors meeting
  • Legislative Committee appointments
  • Board of Director representatives to the 2020-2021 NJSBA Nominating Committee

Executive Director’s Report Dr. Lawrence S. Feinsod provided a report on NJSBA activities and progress toward rising to the challenge presented by the public health crisis to ensure that the members continue to benefit from essential training, advocacy, and direct service.

NJSBA is staying connected with its members—and helping them to stay in touch with each other—through virtual county meetings, an increased number of new podcasts, webinars, Facebook Live events and videos.

On a weekly basis since March, NJSBA has presented at least five original online training and informational programs. These sessions are broadcast live and then archived on our website.

Participation in social networking programs has been very strong, as indicated by the following numbers: Webinars – 452 districts, 78% of membership; Facebook Live – Viewed 67,315 times; Social Media (Facebook reach – 286,699; Twitter – 5,000+ followers, 223,200 accounts); ‘Education Matters’ – 4,382 views; Podcasts – 3,596 listeners; – 629,928 page views, an increase of 140,437, or approximately 30% over the same period last year.

Recent and upcoming programs address cybersecurity, tackling the digital divide, negotiations during the pandemic, and the health emergency’s impact on school board meetings. In addition, regularly scheduled Facebook Live events feature our staff experts from field services, legal, policy, labor relations and governmental relations. These programs allow members to obtain information and interact with staff experts.

Because our members need to stay connected during these uncertain times, we maintained a high level of activity, even during the summer months. The county school boards associations continued meeting in June, July and August. School Board Notes continued publishing on a weekly basis. Our field services team conducted 16 online programs on various aspects of school governance, implemented a virtual summer leadership program, and facilitated an increasing number of superintendent searches. Our Legal and Labor Relations Department responded to more than 850 school district requests for information on school law and negotiations. They also continued to provide contract analyses, salary guide assistance and training and information programs for board members, school attorneys and personnel administrators. The NJSBA School Policy Service responded to more than 600 inquiries since March. Our Call Center answered an average of 300 calls per week.

In May, we launched the first of our series of special reports on education during the pandemic. It was titled “Searching for a New Normal” and addressed potential issues involved in the reopening of schools. On August 31, we followed up with a second report, “Choosing the Best Road Back for Our Children.” Its centerpiece is an Advocacy Agenda for Public Education during the Pandemic, which emphasizes the need for additional support from the state and federal government. In the near future, NJSBA will issue a third report which will address the digital divide. And early in 2021, we plan to release a report on the psychological impact of the pandemic on our students.

NJSBA Online University – Members received an update on the current status of the NJSBA Online University, which we have developed in partnership with the Rutgers Division of Continuing Studies, a national leader in web-based training. NJSBA’s Online University includes completely revamped governance programs, using a new learning management system that is compatible with Cobalt, is user-friendly, and gives members the ability to track online course completion.

Workshop 2020 – Members received a virtual walk-through of Virtual Workshop 2020, which will include 100 training sessions, many of which will focus on the issues related to the current pandemic; keynote speakers; a legislative update, with state Senate and Assembly leadership; student performances and an interactive exhibit floor.

Advocacy Update – Advocacy has also taken center stage as we’ve addressed the pandemic.

The Executive Director chaired Leadership for Educational Excellence (LEE) through June and, to help our members navigate the school reopening process, increased the frequency of meetings to one per week. LEE is comprised of the state’s major educational organizations. The virtual weekly meetings included the commissioner of education and senior Department of Education staff. One of our major goals was for the state to issue strong and universal health and safety standards to guide districts as they planned to restart the education process.

his month, Governor Murphy appeared on NJSBA’s Education Matters video program to discuss the state’s school reopening strategy. In addition, Deborah Cornavaca, the governor’s deputy chief of staff, provided a straightforward, informative presentation to the County Association Leadership.

NJSBA testified to the Senate and Assembly budget committees for additional financial support to help all school districts meet the challenges of operating during the pandemic and was a leading advocate in the effort to restore funding for School Based Youth Services, which would have been severely reduced in the governor’s proposed 2020-2021 state budget.

The appropriations act, which was amended to include funding for the School Based Youth Services Program, received final legislative approval on September 24.

NJSBA worked with the New Jersey Association of School Administrators, the New Jersey Principals and Supervisors Association and the Garden State Coalition of Schools to oppose legislation concerning the appointment of athletic coaches. The proposal, which has stalled in the Legislature, would infringe on a board of education’s responsibility to make prompt and responsive personnel decisions.

There has also been progress on legislation that would provide financial flexibility for school boards and assistance in securing personal protective equipment and technology during the health crisis.

Recognition – The Board of Directors recognized the following retiring members: Dr. Anne Erickson and Noel Naylor, who represented Atlantic County and Ericka Jacho, who represented Essex County. In addition, the Board of Directors recognized the following new members voted onto the board by their respective county associations or NJSBA committee: Atlantic County: Amy Hassa, member and Jerome Page, alternate; Bergen County: Sheli Dansky, member and Clara Williams, alternate; Essex County: Shane Berger, member and Shannon Cuttle, alternate; Gloucester County: Jennifer Cavallaro-Fromm, alternate; Hudson County: Maria Mattiace, member and Haissam Jaafar, alternate; Passaic County: Nancy Schwartz, member and Joseph Canova, alternate; and Urban Boards Committee: Diane Johnson, member and Sheila Etienne, alternate.

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 Executive Director’s 2020-2021 goals; legal case summary, NJSBA Delegate Assembly update; and written reports from the NJSBA president and officers.