Education

Tempers Flare at Sparta Board of Education Meeting

August 27, 2014 at 1:50 AM

SPARTA, NJ – Tempers flared as the Sparta Board of Education discussed the resolution to approve the District Goals for 2014- 2015.

The point of contention was not a new one. Board members Kim Yoeman and Brenda Beebe questioned the language for the first and second goals to improve student achievement. They were at odds with the phrase “as measured by the PARCC assessments, indicating that Sparta is at the median or better than their” state selected peer groups.” 

Yeoman’s and Beebe’s objection was three-fold. They did not agree with using the PARCC as the assessment on which improved student achievement would be measured. They did not agree with a goal of being at the median or better, nor did they agree with having the state selected peer groups be the comparison. 

Sign Up for E-News

Yoeman also had concerns about the board’s ability to have access to the special education sub-group scores to see if the second goal had been achieved.  Beebe, however, said this was not a concern of hers. 

Dr. Melissa Varley, assistant superintendent for Curriculum and Staff Development, along with several board members, stated that data would continue to be available to the district, but that “it might look different, in a different format.”

The Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers is the new standardized test that is mandated by the state. This is the first year that it will be implemented. While the district was able to participate in the pilot program last year, it will be completely different from past testing, including the fact that students will take the test on computers.

The underlying reason for the tense discussion was brought public when board member Jack Surdoval said he seriously objected to the language directed at his fellow board members in an email sent by Yoeman and Beebe.

He said he was, “dumbfounded by the accusation that I am shirking my responsibility as a board member.” 

Tobin said he did not know about the email. 

President Karen Scott said, “You were not copied on it.  Just the nine board members.”  She added, “The board has fully discussed this issue at the goal setting meeting and last week’s work session which you could not attend. You can vote no if you do not agree. That is your prerogative as a board member.”

Yoeman expressed agitation saying this was an important issue and the board needed to discuss it fully.  Scott, Surdoval and McEvoy answered that point by reminding her they had devoted an entire special meeting of nearly four hours to developing the goals. They had also discussed it at length at the work session that Yoeman did not attend. 

There was additional heated discussion, including accusations of "eye-rolling" by board members. The vote was finally called. Beebe, Yoeman and Rich Bladek all voted no.  Todd Muth, Kelly McEvoy, Karen Scott, Jack Surdoval and Scott Turner voted yes. Frank Favichia was not in attendance.

After the vote, Tobin admonished the board about the necessity of including the board administrators on board email. He said this was important because they needed to be sure board members were not violating the Open Public Meetings Act by holding board meetings via email. 

A New Jersey School Board’s Association’s document on the topic of Open Public Meetings Act and Technology advises, in part, “…NJSBA recommends that board members not engage in e-mail discussions or communication with a quorum of its membership. “  https://www.njsba.org/legal_02/opma.html

That is exactly what happened in this case. All nine board members were copied on the emails on this topic.  Informational email is permitted but a back and forth discussion of board business by a quorum of board members could violate OPMA.  In violating the law they could also be found to be in violation of their Board Member Code of Ethics. 

The superintendent is also a member of the board. As such, all correspondence sent to all board members must include the superintendent, except in matters regarding his evaluation.  

 

TAP Into Another Town's News:

TAP Into Another Town's News:

Sign Up for E-News

Sparta

Sparta Police: Third Sparta Man Charged with DWI in One Week

December 2, 2016

SPARTA, NJ- For the third time in less than a week Sparta Police have charged a Sparta resident with driving while intoxicated.  On November 27. Cpl. Marc Rubino stopped a 2015 Jeep, after seeing it being driven down the middle of the road, according to police. 

Christopher Liddle was pulled over for driving completely across the double yellow lines on West Shore Trail at 1:40 ...

Motor Vehicle Stop Leads to Newton Man’s Arrest

NEWTON, NJ-- A Newton man faces drug charges after being pulled over  for driving while talking on his cell phone.  Newton Special Officer Raul Couce stopped Bryan Johnson on November 10 at 7:53 p.m.

Couce found that Johnson was found to have two active warrants for his arrest. The warrants were issued by both the Essex County Superior Court and the Morris County Superior ...

Sparta Police: Sparta Man Faces DWI Charges on Report of Erratic Driving

SPARTA, NJ - A Sparta man faces charges of driving while intoxicated after his erratic driving prompted a call to police on November 25.  Sparta police responded to a report of an erratic driver on Stanhope Road, which included the license plate information, around 7:48 p.m. police report.

Sparta Cpl. Joe Anotnello spotted the 2007 Land Rover on as it turned from Park Road onto East Shore ...

Don't Sacrifice the Environment to Fund the State Treasury

November 22, 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 ...

Newton High School Student Shares Her Dominican Republic Mission Trip Experience

November 27, 2016

NEWTON, NJ- A Newton High School student traveled to the Dominican Republic on a mission trip over the summer with a group from Sussex County.  Freshman Gemma Meade put together a slide show with photos of her trip to provide a backdrop to a presentation she made to her fellow students.

Meade’s French teacher began celebrating Thanksgiving with her classes on Tuesday and had Meade ...

Upcoming Events

Sun, December 4, 1:00 PM

Station Park, Sparta

Holiday Festival and visit with Santa

Arts & Entertainment

Fri, December 9, 5:30 PM

The Stickley Museum at Craftsman Farms, Morris Plains

Holidays in the Log House: The Candlelight Tour

Arts & Entertainment

Sat, December 10, 5:30 PM

The Stickley Museum at Craftsman Farms, Morris Plains

Holidays in the Log House: The Candlelight Tour

Arts & Entertainment

Sun, December 11, 1:00 PM

Van Kirk Homestead Museum, Sparta

Lime Crest Quarry: Eons in the Making, Men in the ...

Arts & Entertainment Education

Roxbury Eyes Little Lake Hopatcong Peninsula, State Says "Go For It"

December 2, 2016

ROXBURY, N.J. - Roxbury Township is on the verge of getting its first chunk of lakefront property on Lake Hopatcong, a strip of land that once served as a steamboat passenger platform in Landing.

The first thing it wants to put there: A big Christmas tree.

The state, which owns the half-acre peninsula adjacent to Lake's End Marina, is eager to enter into a ...

Curriculum Currents November Part 3 - Update to the Sparta School District Website

Over the past months, the Sparta School District has been working on plans to update our current website. Working from feedback received in Superintendent Forums and other community meetings, the focus of this update is to provide a site that is more easily navigated, helping our community find important information in a more efficient manner.

The website is scheduled to receive this update on ...

Sparta Camera Club EXPO XXXII

December 3, 2016

Are you looking to take a break from the usual holiday rush? The Sparta Camera Club is holding their 32nd  photo exhibit and sale.  EXPO XXXII.  The club received over 200 entries EXPO XXXII. The photos are placed in number of categories that include; flora, fauna, landscapes, cityscapes, people, monotones, and sports.  Once the category winners are determined, the EXPO ...