Board of Education Approves James Finley As District Supervisor

James Finley appointed District Supervisor of Science, Arts and Computers with Superintendent Judith Rattner. Credits: Bobbie Peer

BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ - The Berkeley Heights Board of Education appointed James Finely the new District Supervisor of Science, Art and Computers in the Berkeley Heights Public Schools for the 2014-2015 fiscal year at Thursday evening's board meeting. 

Finley, a graduate of Gov. Livingston High School, has 10 years of public school teaching experience and has served as an adjunct professor in the Rutgers Graduate School of Education for the past five years.  Finley earned his Bachelor of Science Degree in Psychology and Elementary Education from Susquehanna University and he received his Master of Science Degree in Science Education from Rutgers.  

The appointment is effective July 15, 2014 and is contingent upon receipt of his pending Supervisor Certificate prior to the start of the 2014-15 school year.

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Superintendent Judy Rattner responded to an earlier board request and provided a data dashboard that the administrative team can use as a "scorecard" to determine student achievement at Gov. Livingston High School.  

The data points of the dashboard include: HSPA (total proficient), SAT (math, writing, critical reading, total, and percent taking), ACT (composite score, percent taking), GPA (mean and median per grade level), Final Grades (percent passing wit C or better per subject area), AP Scores (number of exams, percent of students with score of three or better), Student Participation (athletics - percent per season, extracurricular - percent per year).

Board member Doug Reinstein commented on the importance, as part of the dashboard, to have some comparison to peer groups outside the Berkeley Heights district.  Rattner agreed that the district will choose to compare the scores to available data of surrounding districts as well as state and national data. 

The board passed a resolution opposing legislation A-2873/S-770 that establishes procedures and standards regarding public service privatization contracts. The Berkeley Heights School District realize a cost savings and improved services by sub-contracting its food service operations. The resolution asks Gov. Chris Christie to veto the proposed legislation. 

The legislation that has been passed is a union-backed bill that "would place severe obstacles in the way of a school board's ability to subcontract services and save tax dollars."  The resolution states, "S-770(A-2873) would severely undermine the board's ability to subcontract services, which could cause school funds to be diverted from classroom instruction as well as burdening property taxpayers."

Legislation also passed a bill allowing disabled students participation in sports. Rattner stated that Athletic Director Ann Clifton is inquiring about this legislation and identifying the district's obligations.  The district is awaiting guidance on the necessity of policy adjustments.  

The board approved the submission of the IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act) Grant Application for the 2015 Fiscal Year in the amount of $516,310 for Basic and $13,031 for Preschool to the New Jersey Department of Education. Rattner stated that the district is eligible for $48,000 more than the current school year.

The board approved the assignment of Vincent Gulbin as the new Girls Head Basketball Coach at Gov. Livingston High School.

The Board of Education's next meeting will be held Thursday, July 24 at 8 p.m. in the Music Room at Columbia Middle School.

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