Education

Board of Ed President Funt Addresses Questions on Livingston School District

February 28, 2014 at 2:07 AM

LIVINGSTON, NJ - Board of Education President Barry Funt met with League of Women Voters members on Wednesday night to answer questions pertaining to the Livingston school district.

LWV members Judy Friedman, Renee Resky, and Robin Weiss, as well as community member Denise McDonald, were on hand to discuss issues such as the school calendar, special education, state testing mandates and student stress.

Funt was open about the myriad challenges that face any school district, even a high-achieving one such as Livingston.

Funt on the changes to the school calendar

“We had professional development for the teachers on the Tuesday and Wednesday after Labor Day. Generally, school would start right after that. But since Rosh Hashanah began on a Wednesday (Sept. 4), and we always have off for that holiday, we lost a week of school,” he said.

He explained that in constructing the 2013-14 calendar, the Board tried to accommodate the parents who had complained about conflicts with summer camps that began in June. Ending the school year early, coupled with the late start, effectively eliminated the week-long February break. That break could have been useful in alleviating the district’s current scheduling difficulties, according to Funt.

While noting that the Board could have hardly predicted this winter’s unusual weather patterns, Funt promised that next year’s calendar would give the District more breathing room.

“We’re looking to start earlier, end later and restore the February break,” he said.

Funt on online teaching

Friedman asked Funt about the possibility of holding online school sessions in the event of excessive cancelled school days.

“We’re really not set up for that kind of thing, logistically,” Funt said. “Some families probably don’t have internet access at home. Those students would be punished unnecessarily.”

McDonald also noted that many parents telecommute and might require the use of the family computer.

Funt on increased testing, open enrollment and student stress

McDonald raised concerns about the amount of homework and testing that students, specifically students at the high school level, are subject to.

“My children are studying and doing homework all the time,” she said. “And that doesn’t even include extracurricular activities and sports.”

Funt explained that state mandates in recent years have gotten more rigorous and that he does not foresee that changing.

“Every [state] administration wants to put its own stamp on things—I understand that. [Governor Chris Christie] has kind of positioned himself as the ‘education governor.’”

Livingston’s open enrollment policy and its relationship to student stress was also a topic of discussion. Prior to the policy’s enactment, Livingston students required a teacher recommendation to move up to a more rigorous class (e.g. going from an Honors class junior year to an Advanced Placement class senior year). The open enrollment policy allows students to take any class with parental permission.

“Some students have an ability to handle seven A.P. classes—it’s just in their DNA,” he said. “Of course if you have the mindset of ‘my kid is going to Harvard’ you might pressure your child into taking on more than he or she can handle. In that area, pressure generally comes more from the parents than the teachers.”

“On the whole, that kind of thing sorts itself out,” with most students taking classes commensurate with their academic level,” said Funt.

Funt added that the district has added more members to its guidance department and trains teacher to spot at-risk students who may be susceptible to stress. He emphasized that the district continues to take student stress and workload seriously.

“It’s very hard being a high school student today,” he said.

Funt on hiring practices

Friedman asked Funt about Superintendent John Alfieri’s hiring of two of his previous colleagues, Matthew DeLaRosa and Barbara Linkenheimer. DeLaRosa serves as Director of School Safety, Energy Management and Strategic Construction Planning and Operations, while Linkenheimer serves as Interim Assistant Superintendent. DeLaRosa's position was newly created. Linkenheimer replaced the District's Assistant Superintendent for Special Services after he resigned.

“I know Dr. Alfieri has gotten some flack for hiring people he knew instead of conducting a broad search,” Funt said. “The way I see it, [the Board] hired Alfieri to be the CEO of the Livingston School District. We empowered him to make decisions like this. If the hires turn out to be mistakes, then [the Board] is accountable for hiring Dr. Alfieri in the first place.”

He added, “If the person being hired is a qualified candidate, then I don’t see a problem with making that decision based on personal trust and a healthy working relationship.”

Funt said that the level of cooperation and communication between the school and the police department since DeLaRosa’s hire has been unprecedented. He also praised DeLaRosa’s work in preparing the District for upcoming construction projects at each school.

“I believe that that position will end up paying for itself,” Funt said.

Funt also had unstinting praise for Linkenheimer’s performance, specifically in the area of special education.

“We recently underwent an audit for violations in our special ed department—improperly filling out forms and things like that. [Linkenheimer] cleared that all up and really transformed the place. It’s running very efficiently now.”

TAP Into Another Town's News:

TAP Into Another Town's News:

Sign Up for E-News

Livingston

Chris Brown Named President at Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices New Jersey Properties

Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices New Jersey Properties is proud to announce the appointment of Chris Brown to President of the 21-office real estate brokerage headquartered in Somerset, New Jersey. Previously serving as Executive Vice President and General Sales Manager, Brown is a member of the company’s ownership team along with Bill Keleher, Seymour and Nancy Litwin, and Steve Janett.

Montclair First Responders Rush to Rescue Man Under Fallen Oil Tank

December 4, 2016

MONTCLAIR, NJ – Members of the Montclair Fire Department spent nearly two hours on Saturday afternoon rescuing a man who was trapped under an oil tank in a trench at 26 Linden Avenue.

According to published reports, Montclair Fire Department officials arrived after being alerted by witnesses to find the man in a trench filled with dirt and under the tank up to his ...

Randolph's Brendan Fletcher Reaches Top 8 on NBC’s “The Voice”

December 4, 2016

LOS ANGELES, CA - “And though the course may change sometimes, rivers always reach the sea,” Led Zepplin, Ten Years Gone

After years of changing his course, living in New Jersey, Boston, Brooklyn, and Charleston, all while singing in small local bars, at open mic nights, and working as a bartender to make ends meet, Randolph’s Brendan Fletcher always ...

Don't Sacrifice the Environment to Fund the State Treasury

November 23, 2016

Dear Editor:

New Jersey’s Natural Resource Damages (NRD) program is an incredibly important and necessary program rising from the state’s history of incremental spills and discharges, as well as historic industrialization. 

NRD requires polluters to go beyond the mandated cleanup and to pay damages for restoration and compensation for the public loss of use of natural ...

Friends of the Livingston Library Restocks Its Ongoing Book Sale for December

December 1, 2016

LIVINGSTON, NJ — Friends of the Livingston Library has fully restocked its Ongoing Book Sale for the month of December. On a monthly basis, Friends takes down all stock and replaces it with entirely new inventory. 

This is the “Friends flip.” Approximately 1200 items of fiction, non-fiction, children’s books, DVDs, and CDs are available at great ...

Andy’s Family Music Showcases Alex Weiss on Drums

LIVINGSTON, NJ — Andy’s Family Music Center of Livingston is proud to highlight 11-year-old Alex Weiss, a fifth grader at Collins Elementary School with an aptitude for drums.

Alex studies drums at Andy’s under the instruction of Joe Vitello. He says hid favorite band is Fall Out Boy and that his dad is his number one musical influence.

Check him out in the video ...

https://www.tapinto.net/towns/livingston/columns/meadowbrook-camp-corner/articles/q-and-a-with-owners-of-meadowbrook-country-day-camp

Recently, the owners of Meadowbrook Country Day Camp, Dan Milman and George Stein, took part in a fun Question and Answer session. Below are the questions and their responses. To learn more about Milman, Stein and Meadowbrook, click here to read a recent article that ran on TApinto.net.

WHEN YOU HEAR THE WORD CAMP, WHAT VISUAL COMES TO MIND?

George: A six lb.

Getting a Handle on Thanksgiving

This year, on our National Day of Thanks, I would like to express my gratitude for having hands.

We typically don’t thank our body parts because they seldom leave us.  Most of us have not experienced unfortunate accidents or suffered the horrible consequences of war; tragic events  which might cause us to lose a limb.  

Most of us take our fingers and hands and elbows ...

Beckerman’s Theory of Everything

Any armchair theoretical physicist knows that Stephen Hawking has pursued a lifelong quest to come up with a Theory of Everything. This all-encompassing theory would tie together general relativity (large scale and high mass galaxies, stars, etc), quantum theory (quantum mechanics, quarks, atoms, subatomic particles), and Newtonian physics (gravity on small bodies, gas laws, electromagnetism) to ...