BOE Meeting Report

Mr. Patrick Spagnoletti gave his Superintendent’s Report for 2009-2010 school year and gave statistics from the Violence & Vandalism Report. There were only 25 incidents of violence with zero cost to the township, there were no weapons incidents and out-of-school suspensions were reduced by 15%.

Mr. Spagnoletti called forward all three elementary principals (Mary Christensen, Virginia Gilcrest, and James Salvo) to the dais where they had discussions but blocked sound from the microphones, so the audience was unable to hear what was said.

Agenda item 1 was approved by all the BOE – Vice President Loren Harms, Alex Balaban, Michael Genovese, Barney Leinberger, Christopher Miller, Scott Nelson, Barbara Sokol, President Roseann Rinaldi. Dr. Jeff Parrell was not in attendance that evening. All agenda items (2 through 24) were presented and approved with Mr. Balaban questioning item 14 and Mr. Spagnoletti explaining item 19. Mr. Nelson stated as part of the Curriculum Committee, they met to discuss textbooks and school agenda.

During the public portion Jake Magiera came forwarded and requested information on Item 20 (Acceptance for 2009 Safety Grant) in the amount of $27,950. Mr. Spagnoletti stated that it had been allotted for something that would provide safety and, in this case, sidewalk and playground repair was scheduled. He also mentioned that if awarded this grant again next year, they plan on replacing/repairing the steps to the gym at the Sherman Elementary School.

Mr. Magiera questioned the money given to the schools by the State this year and asked how much it was. Mr. Spagnoletti stated he did not have an exact figure but guessed around $350,000, so Jake wanted to know what was planned for the money. Mr. Spagnoletti stated that they had until 2012 to use the funds, and have deferred it into next years budget as they feel there will be more cuts next year and they will need the funds then. Jake questioned the pay freezes mentioned by Governor Christie, Mr. Spagnoletti stated that this would not occur until the contracts were up next year.

Larissa Chen-Horning came forward and stated that two months ago she had mailed a letter to Mr. Salvo, Principal of the Robert Gordon Elementary School and had not received any response. She provided copies of the letter to each Board of Education member. She spoke about her issue or nursing her infant son, Mr. Salvo, and the legal issues behind his actions a few months ago. She requested a public apology for Mr. Salvo’s behavior in attempting to and violate her right to breast feed in public.

Kenneth Iachio came forward and asked about the “no class trip” rumor. Mr. Spagnoletti stated that the issue was under discussion and asked Mr. Salvo to elaborate on the issue. Mr. Salvo stated they were discussing the field trips. Mr. Iaccio stated that trips are an experience and provide educationally sound information to children.

Cathie Springer came forward and, speaking on the issue of field trips, stated that each child learns in a different way and that field trips were an extension of learning. She mentioned that the school added six (6) new half days to the calendar. She said that she was tired of her child telling her what new Disney movie they saw in school on half-days and that this was something she could do with her daughter at home and should not be done in school. The PTA will raise over $7,000 in the budget for field trips, so money is not an issue. She wanted to know why the schools keep saying they are not sure they want to schedule field trips.

Elaine Weaver came forward and discussed how she felt that assemblies exclude kids, they are quite costly, and are not hands on. She stated that if perhaps the schools did a bit of financial tweaking they would be able to take kids on field trips, which would benefit them all.

Janine Goodis went before the dais and stated that she had met with the Council of PTA meetings. She always felt that her children benefitted from field trips and that as parent paying taxes she should have a say in the extracurricular activities of her children. She was bothered by the fact that the schools feel it is okay not to have field trips. They are a controlled environment for learning and benefitting all children. The PTA subsidizes the trips so funding should not be the issue. She had put together assemblies, stating they are difficult to organize, costly, and not at all informative to all children. She asked that the schools base the children’s education on what parents believe is right for their kids.

Christina Delarose, the PTA President at the Sherman Elementary School,  came forward and stated that  although she doesn’t feel field trips are that important, she is in concurrence with what the majority of the PTA parents. She stated that the PTA works hard to raise the funds, and that the schools should use the money to schedule field trips.

Tammy Lieberman came forward and stated that she grew up in Roselle Park and remembers all the fields trips as a child. She wanted to know who had the last say in scheduling field trips. Mr. Spagnoletti stated that the Board Of Education had the final say, after presentation from the principals. She asked if the money raised for the field trips are not used for the purpose intended, what happens to it. The BOE Attorney stated that as the funds belonged to the PTA they could do as they wished with it. Mr. Spagnoletti then said all the parents should talk to their PTA and the principals to raise the issue of the field trips.

Jen Love came forward and asked that if funding is not any issue, what other issues could there be. She wanted to confirm that no decision could be made by the Board Of Education, if no presentation has been brought forth by the school principals.

Kenneth Iaccio, came up again and wanted to bring up to the Board that if the Superintendent doesn’t present the case for the school trips, then the Board Of Education couldn’t make a decision..

Kathy Springer came up again and questioned the Board as to when would the issue be presented. Mr. Spagnoletti stated that a decision would be made prior to Thanksgiving of this year.

Elaine Weaver came up and stated that she herself transports 5 – 7 children each Wednesday to the Gifted and Talented program after school and wanted to know why they could not get the use of the bus owned by the schools. She was told that the bus is scheduled daily all over the different schools and use of it would be based on a student’s IEP.

Mr. Spagnoletti was concerned about the Gifted & Talented program. They are looking into moving it to the Sherman School, but that would cause a change in curriculum.

Jake Megiera, came up again and stated that the BOE should “heed to the voices of the mothers.”

President Rinaldi called for a short closed session at 8 p.m. At 8:45 p.m., Board of Education members left the meeting, having failed to re-open to the public to state if any action was taken on any issues discussed in closed session.