SPARTA, NJ- Sparta schools will be open on Saturday, May 31 following an early dismissal schedule. The board of education voted on Monday night to take the unusual step of using a Saturday to make up for a lost day of instruction.
The harsh winter led to ten missed days of school. The school calendar allowed for four snow days. After those were all used the district had to eliminate days from spring break. When spring break was exhausted, that left the district with one additional day to make up. The only vacation days remaining on the calendar were Good Friday and Memorial Day. Rather than use those holidays the board has decided to go to school on Saturday to reach the 180 day state requirement.
At the last few board of education meetings there has been a clash among board members regarding their seating assignments. President Karen Scott had been trying to assign seats because she said some board members "get along too well." She explained their side discussions were distracting from board business at public meetings. Some board members groused at being told where to sit.
At the previous board meeting Richard Bladek said, "I haven't been told where to sit since second grade." Though it was revealed that Linda Alvarez had received several emails last year from the board president with seating charts.
Twenty minutes were then spent on the topic that night. Scott asked if board members could simply accept their seating assignment. If that was not possible then she was going to seek to revise the bylaw regarding duties of the president to specifically include developing a seating chart if necessary. Board member Kim Yoemans did not agree, making it necessary to amend the bylaw .
When the item came up on the agenda on Monday night, Yoemans called a point of order "opposing the question." No one at the board table was familiar with the procedure. Yoemans explained that to do so required board members be polled as to whether or not they agreed to vote on the question; the resolution to amend the bylaw.
Yoemans said, "There are much more important things we should be spending our time on." She did not want the board to take the vote. Her discussion took approximately ten minutes. Ultimately the board voted to support the first reading of the amended bylaw.
Yoemans also remains the only board member to not accept a committee assignment. After being sworn in last January, Brenda Beebe, Bladek and Yoemans refused the committee assignments given to them by Scott. Beebe and Bladek later came to an agreement with Scott to serve on assigned committees.
The agenda had three resolutions that related to resurfacing the high school track. The preliminary budget presentation shows an estimated seven hundred thousand dollars to refurbish the track. Two of the three track resolutions were tabled due to the anticipated re-vote for full-day kindergarten.
Business Administrator Linda Alvarez announced board member Richard Bladek had been certified for completing Board Member Academy training. To earn this distinction he had completed at least 20 hours of training and completed one year of service. Bladek will be recognized by New Jersey School Board Association at a awards ceremony at Farmstead golf course later this spring.
The members of the audience who chose to speak at Monday's meeting were again supportive of full-day kindergarten. All but one spoke with appreciation for the board of education members revisiting the issue and asked that board members vote to implement a full-day program for next year. The high school track coach spoke of the poor condition of the track.
A parent did raise the concern that the week formerly known as Spring Break would not have the educational rigor of a regular school week. Tobin assured her that the administrators have all discussed this issue and the expectation is that there be meaningful instruction that week.
After the public concluded their comments board member Scott Turner spoke. He said he had been the target of much criticism for not having attended the February 27 board meeting where the full-day kindergarten vote took place.
"The vote was 5-3 so my vote wouldn't have mattered anyway. If it was going to matter I would have dragged myself out of bed to get here." Turner explained that he suffers from MS and that some days are more difficult than others. He did say that he was committed to attending the next meeting that has the full-day kindergarten vote on the agenda, "if I have to drag myself here in a wheel chair."
The next board of education meeting is scheduled for Monday, April 21 at 7:30 in the auditorium of Mohawk Avenue School.