October 15, 2013 at 12:32 AM
MILLBURN, NJ - Students at Millburn High School now will be able to order sandwiches from the high school's cafeteria in advance through use of Apple IOS devices such as iPhones and iPads thanks to an “app” invented by two of their fellow students.
The application, Millburn High School EzCafe, was developed by students Adam ElShaer and Andrew Kiselik, who demonstrated the innovative system at Monday evening's board of education meeting.
Using the app, students will be able either to order a pre-made sandwich from a set menu or “make their own” by selecting bread, one meat or other protein, choosing to have a particular type of cheese or not have cheese, and selecting a spread and vegetables.
Salads also are available, and to-go sandwiches and to-go salads each cost $5, as do make-your-own sandwiches including one meat and unlimited topping. Each additional meat costs $1.
To take advantage of the system, students must have money in their account, which their parents can add by sending a check or cash into the cafeteria system or by signing up for a free account at ww.myschoolbucks.com and adding to the account by credit card. Each order is verified with the student's identification number and name.
The students said Aramark, the school's cafeteria vendor, developed a preliminary menu based on what they feel are student tastes and what many already are eating in the cafeteria. The menu can change due to student requests of if Aramark has new selections that fit into the ExCafe mobile app.
Currently, they added, the system only works on Apple IOS devices, such as IPhones and IPads, running iOs version 6.1 or later. The cafeteria also has an IPad available for the use of those who do not have access to one in their homes. In addition, those interested in pre-ordering lunches may do so by emailing either email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Later in the meeting, members of the Aramark staff distributed samples of pre-ordered lunches to board members.
Board president Jeffrey Waters noted the ideas which led to development of the new system first surfaced through the high school's student liaison committee, one of two such board-sponsored committees in the district schools.
Waters said the Millburn High School committee has 24 student members and the committee at the middle school has 12 student members. Also involved are principals, vice principals, other school staff members and board members.
The board president said each grade level is represented on the respective committees, which represent a diverse mix of academic levels and backgrounds. He noted students are free to openly express their opinions and recent topics have centered on more accessibility of school libraries after school hours, cycle classes and AP courses.
Referring to the cafe app, board member Lise Chapman praised the tremendous amount of entrepreneurial spirit she has seen in the high school. She also complimented such organizations as the Millburn Education Foundation for stepping forward to fund innovative programs when some school officials in the past may have been reluctant to endorse them.
On the student liaison committees, however, Chase Harrison, who is a student at the high school and a candidate for a one-year unexpired term on the board, said the committees are not quite as representative of the student body, since they only include 15 to 24 students and they are not as diverse as they could be.
Harrison also again requested from the board statistics on the number of students who had left Millburn High School to attend private schools.
Waters said the board would get Harrison the numbers he was requesting.
The board also had a lengthy discussion on the student growth objectives—a state requirement that is part of the new teacher evaluation system and which were a major topic of discussion at Monday's fullday staff development sessions.
Board members and Superintendent of Schools James Crisfield acknowledged that the district had to do a better job of communicating that the growth objectives were not designed to add more stress for student achievement upon students or parents but were supposed to help in evaluating teacher progress and effectiveness.
Crisfield added that their are many portions of the new state evaluation system which are not yet as clearly defined as school staff members and supervisors across the state would like them to be and this doubt at times may have come across in the way student growth objectives are explained to students and parents.
The superintendent also said he would look into a request by board members to remove student growth objective milestones from Power School to alleviate some of the stress concerning student achievement.
On another topic, Crisfield said, in developing what, if any, school resources would be the topic of future public referenda, all stakeholders including staff, parents (through the parent-teacher organizations), students and staff would be involved.
He said needs would be broken down to determine whether they were space-driven, essential to preserving district buildings, pose security or safety concerns or were necessary for 21st century learning environments.
Partially in response to the superintendent's remarks about possible referenda, former board member Josh Scharf again raised the question of the district's tracking of non-resident students attending township schools.
Scharf said that even though the topic had been raised in national superintendents' publications and superintendents around the state and nation said they were concerned about the fiscal implications of ineligible students attending public schools, Millburn officials had not done a great deal to remedy concerns in township schools.
Reasons for this, he said, perhaps stemmed from the fact that larger “headcounts” could bring in more grants and non-resident students could achieve higher scores, thus enhancing the reputation of the district.
Scharf said, however, especially with township residents possibly being asked to make decisions on referenda in the future, overcrowding could become an issue.
He added that ineligible students with higher scores graduating from Millburn schools possibly could “crowd out” township students in the higher quality colleges.
The former board member noted Millburn has had a history of high academic achievement and he thus believed the township did not have to depend on high-achieving non-resident students to keep its scores high.
In a report later in the meeting, however, Crisfield noted the district now has a registrar one of whose main functions will be to verify that every legal document presented by entering students or their parents to authenticate eligibility is legitimate.
He also said that students in certain grades would be re-registered on a “semi-random” basis in a continuing effort to confirm eligibility.
The superintendent said this was being done despite the fact that recent efforts have not produced the name of one student in the Millburn schools who is attending illegally.
On another matter, Scharf said that board member Michael Birnberg was skirting state school board ethics laws by advocating his “student first” initiative.
Scharf contends that school board members only are supposed to be involved in programs formally promulgated by the board and should not be initiating their own programs. He also said that the superintendent and school business administrator, as the paid professionals, should make sure that board members obey all ethical standards.
Neither the board members or members of the administration commented during the meeting about Scharf's accusations.