Written by Jordan Lauterbach: firstname.lastname@example.org Friday, 27 April 2012 00:00
“The teachers have really taken care of their home and we appreciate it,” Board President Carolyn Mazzu Genovesi said. “There wasn’t a board member who wasn’t very concerned about our teaching staff. We love our teachers and every single one of us is sitting here because we believe strongly in quality public education and we really didn’t like the position that the state has put us in.”
The district completed the negotiations without the use of lawyers. Superintendent Ed Melnick acted on the board’s behalf during contract conversations, according to Genovesi.
“Those of us on the board are both astounded and pleased that we were able to reach this agreement,” Genovesi said.
Teachers weren’t the only employees willing to work to help ease potentially rocky financial waters. District administrators agreed to take a pay freeze for the 2012-13 school year.
“This district works as well as it does because of the incredible commitment and dedication of its employees,” Melnick said. “The reason it works so well is because there is always that chair in the middle of the room in which you have to have a student, and that’s what everything in this district is about.”
The agreement allows the district to reinstate 15 positions that were scheduled to be eliminated. Although the board will still have to vote on which will be kept, Melnick did offer his recommendations of which positions be reinstated.
Among the positions recommended by Melnick for reinstatement were a full-time elementary school music teacher, a full-time school-wide enrichment specialist, an elementary math academic intervention specialist, a social studies teacher for grades seven through 12, a technology teacher for grades six through 12 and a business teacher for grades seven through 12.
“Potentially, I would love to expand the business program to the middle school,” Melnick said. “We’d begin to offer some financial literacy courses to students at the middle school as part of the elective program.”
A family and consumer science teacher, a computer staff developer, an additional classroom teacher at Glen Head Elementary School, a physical education teacher, and two special education teachers were also on Melnick’s recommendation list.
Those positions that were not recommended to be reinstated by Melnick were an elementary health teacher, a middle school English teacher, and a high school language other than English teacher.
The board also received the first draft of the district’s plan for 2022. Community members, board members, and faculty were all invited to participate as part of a “long range planning committee.”
The plan, scheduled to be revised and adopted by June, will act as a guide for district goals over the next decade and focuses on three areas - curriculum, facilities, and community relations.
“Each committee was asked to look in their area at what the current district strengths were, what the weaknesses were, what potential opportunities existed, and what the potential threats were,” Melnick said.
Five hundred community members responded to surveys sent out by the district. The surveys dealt with all three of the focus areas. Each sub-committee turned the community feedback into a list of perceived strengths, weaknesses, goals and a recommended “action plan” for the district, according to Melnick.
The 26-page draft, also featured on the district’s website, was distributed during the meeting and featured the findings of each sub-committee.
Perceived district curriculum strengths include teacher quality, senior programs, number of co-taught classes, and the quality of district performing arts. District weaknesses include the vocabulary program, lack of quality homework, lack of student input on the curriculum, and a “low complexity of text at early levels.”
The report cited overall maintenance, the utilization of library space, and the existence of a SMARTBoard in each classroom as perceived district facility strengths. Weaknesses in this area included the lack of a “centrally located” illuminated sign to display district events, a lack of large teacher training areas, and “insufficient” indoor and outdoor athletic space, according to the draft.
The third area of concentration, community relations, highlighted the district’s website, the senior internship program, and opportunities for community participation as strengths. An excess of phone calls, inconsistent parent involvement, and the lack of community education on future funding threats were listed as weaknesses in the report.
Suggested action plans included individualizing the “guidance” experience of each student based on their individual needs, educating the community on the growing importance of involvement in the school community, and upgrading a number of the schools’ existing facilities, according to the draft.
The next step for the 2022 plan is for the district administration to receive feedback from the board regarding the draft and forward that feedback to the sub-committees for consideration and implementation, according to Melnick.
“The next step would be to draw out a very preliminary and tentative timeline with markers along the way,” Melnick said. “That is going to have to be flexible as we go along.”
The board of education is holding a town hall meeting and budget reading on May 3 at 8.p.m in the high school library.