BOE Swears In New Members And Makes Various Appointments

BOE Swears In New Members And Makes Various Appointmentsthumbnail
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Published: January 6, 2016 @ 8:30 PM EDT

The Roselle Park Board Of Education (BOE) held its reorganization meeting last night at the Roselle Park Middle School (RPMS). The first order of public business was the swearing in of Kevin Cancino, Troy Gerten, and Sundjata Sekou. Mr. Gerten is the only incumbent with the two new members taking seats on the board after being given their oaths of office by Susan Guercio, the school district’s Business Administrator who acted as the President Pro Tem until a President was voted on by the BOE.

After having a roll call of the 2016 BOE, nominees were accepted for President. BOE member Alex Balaban nominated Loren Harms but Mr. Harms declined the nomination and, instead put forth Mr. Chris Miller’s name as a nomination. The Board unanimously approved Mr. Miller for another year as the BOE President. The meeting was then turned over to the new president.

“I thank Mr. Harms and the thank you to the board for nominating me and electing me to be president of the board for the year 2016 and I really appreciate your confidence as we go forward in an exciting year this 2016 with many, many decisions to make,” said President Miller as he formally took over the meeting. He thanked Mr. Gerten for returning to the board and welcomed the two newest members. He added, “This board that we have now is a wonderful representation of our diverse community.”

President Miller then accepted nominations for Vice President. Mr. Harms was nominated and unanimously voted in as the BOE Vice-President for 2016, with Mr. Miller commended Mr. Harms for his years of service as a councilman, Little League volunteer, Municipal Land Use Board member, as well as a BOE member.

As the BOE went through the agenda, a change was made to the public participation portions of the meeting where a comment portion was allowed for each major section of the agenda: Reorganization, Personnel, Education, and Business. With a three-minute time limit imposed on speakers, the separation allows for more comment or question per section as opposed to only having three minutes for 40 items.

The board approved various positions in the district such as school physician, insurance brokers, various coordinator as well as officials. The BOE Attorney, Auditor, and Architect, all no-bid contracts, were awarded with the attorney’s appointment being until the end of the school year in June. According to Mrs. Guercio, this was done so their bills at $160/hour (which has not increased since 2010) would coincide with the school budget, which is based on the school year not the calendar year. Committees were named but BOE members were not assigned to them. President Miller stated he would reach out to members to determine which committees would fit best with members’ areas of strength or interest. Meeting dates were also approved.

The list and location of scheduled meetings are listed below:

Meeting Date
Location
January 5, 2016
Roselle Park Middle School
January 19, 2016
Roselle Park Middle School
February 2, 2016
EJF/Aldene Elementary School
February 23, 2016
EJF/Aldene Elementary School
March 8, 2016
Sherman Elementary School
March 22, 2016
Sherman Elementary School
April 5, 2016
Robert Gordon Elementary School
April 26, 2016
Robert Gordon Elementary School
May 10, 2016
Roselle Park Middle School
May 24, 2016
Roselle Park Middle School
June 14, 2016
Roselle Park High School
June 28, 2016+
Roselle Park High School
July 26, 2016*
Roselle Park High School
August 9, 2016*
Roselle Park Middle School
August 23, 2016
Roselle Park Middle School
September 6, 2016
Roselle Park High School
September 20, 2016
Roselle Park High School
October 4, 2016
EJF/Aldene Elementary School
October 18, 2016
EJF/Aldene Elementary School
November 1, 2016
Sherman Elementary School
November 15, 2016
Sherman Elementary School
December 6, 2016
Robert Gordon Elementary School
December 20, 2016*
Robert Gordon Elementary School
+ - Meeting is a closed session at a location outside the district. No action will be taken.
* - Meeting will be held only if necessary.

School Superintendent Pedro Garrido gave his report and announced that the PARCC (Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers) scores will be presented to the Board and public at the January 19th meeting. Without giving any specifics while adding that the district did not receive any sub group scores or analysis of the tests from the New Jersey Department Of Education (NJ DOE) the superintendent stated, “We did get back encouraging scores across the district. In most cases we were at or above state and PARCC averages.”

Superintendent Garrido commented on the ranking from Niche K-12 (link), a national ranking website on school districts. He also stated that in an effort to improve communications with parents and the community, the school district has started a Twitter account (link). Mention was also made of the change from No Child Left Behind (NCLB) to Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) and that a significant change is that ESSA gives more control to the states.

During the meeting Mr Sekou asked about bullying, which was an agenda item, “Mr Superintendent, are parents well  aware of what to do for bullying incidents, of how to go about it. Are [sic] literature sent home about if the child is bullied, what to do? Are parents invited for any workshops on bullying and intimidation? Are those things being done?”

“Yes, ” replied the Superintendent, “Part of the Anti-Bullying Bill Of Rights, Mr. Sekou, is to provide parents with programs. I know last year there were two program where the law was explained to the parents. However, if any parents have any questions, each of the buildings has an anti-bullying specialist. Again, we are required by the Anti-Bullying Bill Of Rights to have an Anti-Bullying Coordinator, Ellen Bachert, who is at the high school and they can provide any information to the parents. We would love parents, if they have any concerns, to please call any of the building’s anti-bullying specialists.”

During New Business, Alex Balaban asked about a new initiative that will allow school districts to engage with the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission to help with determining residency for students. Although potentially helpful, no detailed information is yet available as to how it will be implemented but it was a welcome opportunity since a townwide registration check will be conducting for the 2016-17 school year.

During the final public portion, resident Jeanine Goodis asked about the change in the number of buses to and from the Union County Magnet School. It was changed from three to two buses just before the winter break. Mrs. Goodis said, “It’s day two of the buses and the reports I got, again from male students who barely notice that there is a bus, is that they’re doing okay.”

Her comment had to do not so much with the change but with the way it was communicated. She stated that she did not receive notice until after she read about it in a community forum on Facebook. She reiterated, “My biggest issue was the way we were notified. I knew nothing about it, my kids knew nothing about it . . . So far it’s working. I just wish we had been notified differently.”

After the meeting, Mr. Cancino commented, “I’m very happy that I was given the opportunity to do it. I hope it’ll be a great year. I’ll be learning a lot from it and I really hope I can give back to the community as much as the as much as the community has given to me.”

Mr. Sundjata, in addition to expressing his gratitude for being serving. He stated, “I want to thank my family for allowing me to be apart of the process. Also, I want to thank the Roselle Park residents who commented and like my post on the Roselle Park Forum. Plus, I want to thank the Roselle Park residents that I met in person. I sincerely appreciate all your support. It [also] felt great having my wife and children in the audience. It also felt great to hear my two-year old son say ‘da da’ and to see my seven-year-old daughter blow me a kiss as she watched the proceedings.”

The next meeting will be in two weeks at the Roselle Park Middle School again at 7 p.m.