Report from State Board of Education Nov. 7 Meeting

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The State Board of Education met on Wednesday, November 7th, 2018. Vice President Kathy Goldenberg of Moorestown ran the meeting in President Areclio Aponte’s absence. The meeting began with a report by the 2018-2019 Permanent Student Representative, Nora Faverzani. As part of Ms. Faverzani’s year-long goal to open communication between students and policy makers, Nora brought to the board an idea for improving the NJDOE website by creating a tab on the page with student exclusive content.  Noting that the page currently is very parent-driven, and does not contain many resources for students, Nora suggested a new link on the page that could include simple explanations of proposed policy and code changes, clear and concise information about assessment, current board representatives and their email addresses, as well as to be a place for students to post information about topics discussed at student summits. The Board responded positively to this idea and are looking into it.


Board Member Dr. Ronald K. Butcher presented a Resolution posthumously in Honor of Dr. Thelma Napoleon-Smith, who had worked in the Trenton public schools in many capacities for 36 years, and had served with distinction as a member of the State Board of Education from 2003-2007. Dr. Napoleon-Smith’s family was in attendance and received the award.


There were four appointments made by Commissioner Repollet at Wednesday’s meeting:

David Greer to be the Deputy Assistant Commissioner, Division of Academics and Performance

Diana Pasculli to the Deputy Assistant Commissioner, Division of Academics and Performance

Tonya Coston to be the Deputy Assistant Commissioner, Division of Early Childhood Education and Amanda Schultz to be the Director, Office of Budget and Accounting.


Dr. Lawrence S. Feinsod, Executive Director of the New Jersey School Boards Association, together with Daniel T. Sinclair, President of the NJSBA, presented to the Board on the final report from their task force on educational opportunities for the non-college bound learner. After a year of deliberation and research, NJSBA’s task force issued the report. Expounding that for far too long society has defined success by the single measure of whether or not one is ready for a four-year degree immediately following high school, Dr. Feinsod described the report as a rethinking of how we prepare our students for success in the present and future economy, and includes features such as dual enrollment, apprenticeships, collaboration between business leaders and industry as well as the Department of Education. the NJSBA report is the culmination of a year of deliberation and research that has the potential to change the landscape in this area.  NJSBA’s primary goal is to share with the report with government decision makers.


The Commissioner’s report was an update on the Department’s Charter School Program Act Review – Outreach 2018 given by Julie Bunt and Vanessa Lawson.

Ms. Bunt and Ms. Lawson presented to the board about the Department’s efforts to get into the field and hear from folks in school buildings about how they are impacted by the policies and procedures of the charter school act.  The duo also explained the design of their outreach and described the five categories of soliciting participation:  tours of charter schools, stakeholder collaboratives, community focus groups, webinars, and written feedback through a guided question survey. They indicated that the largest participation has come from Passaic county, followed by Mercer and then Bergen, and the ongoing themes that they heard throughout the state have been funding, need for better collaboration, facilities, accountability and enrollment capacity.   Once they have finished collecting all of the raw data, it will be analyzed and compiled into a report with recommendations.


The Board considered a Proposal Level amendment to increase flexibility of sick time under new law. The Department initiated the amendment to align the rules at N.J.A.C. 6A:23A-18.6(a) with recent statutory changes.  The amendment proposed will increase the flexibility of approved private schools for students with disabilities (APSSDs) employers to pay earned unused sick time under P.L. 2018, c.10. The new law will require private employers to provide sick time to certain employees and also will permit employers to pay employees for earned unused sick time. The new law became effective October 29, 2018.


The Board considered Proposal Level amendments to specify that for purposes of NJQSAC, a review of a district’s social studies curriculum and instruction will monitor whether they include the Amistad Commission and Holocaust Commission mandates. The Department also proposed to amend another indicator in the District Performance Reviews (DPRs) to ensure alignment with a current data collection.


The Board considered for Second Discussion, a proposal for new rules to effectuate a State law authorizing a teacher leader endorsement to instructional certificates, to establish the criteria, and process that will be used to approve teacher leader preparation programs, and to establish the program requirements for teacher leader programs.


The Board considered for First Discussion, a proposal to amend N.J.A.C. 6A:3, Controversies and Disputes.  The proposed amendments, as part of a look at ways to reduce administrative burden, will reduce the procedural requirements when filing documents with the Office of Controversies and Disputes and will allow parties to submit documents to the Department electronically.  Other amendments are proposed to increase clarity and remove obsolete or confusing references in the rules. It is likely that the Board will vote on these proposed amendments next month.


Later that afternoon, three members from the Board received public testimony on Teacher Leader Regulations (second discussion) and Standards and Assessments (proposal). NJPSA testified in support of the proposal for the teacher leader endorsement.  The public comment period is still open, and the Board will accept written testimony on the subject until January 4th, 2019.


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