Sparta Board Tries New Workshop System

January 22, 2013 at 3:31 PM

SPARTA TOWNSHIP, NJ – A new system of workshop meetings set up by the township board of education resulted in three hours of discussion Monday, Jan. 21, and a recommendation by Sparta Superintendent of Schools Dennis Tobin, that board members review their agenda packets as soon as they receive them, and call or email committee chairs or staff with questions prior to the meeting.

That would allow time to look up answers the staff cannot come up with quickly, Tobin said.

Each committee chair reports on the meeting immediately prior to the workshop, and other board members discuss items that may come up for a vote at the regular meeting.

Sign Up for E-News

The next regular meeting is at 7:30 p.m., Monday, Jan. 28.

Residents and board members had some of the same concerns at the workshop.

In the wake of the December shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newton, Conn., school security was one topic.

“A lot of districts are talking about security in the wake of things that have happened,” Tobin said.

He noted at one time, Sparta had school resource officers who were on-duty township police officers, but they were cut from the school budget two years ago.

Two officers were used, one for the elementary schools, and one for secondary. The program was township-wide, and included Sussex County Technical and Pope John XXIII schools, as well as the public township schools, Tobin noted.

He said a meeting with Sparta Mayor Gil Gibbs covered security, as well as other topics, and a meeting was held with all building administrators.

“I asked each building principal to reinforce safety measures,” Tobin said.

Each school has an emergency operating plan.

“They make sure visitors state the purpose of their visit, and have a visitors’ badge when they are in the building,"Tobin said.

He also noted administrators went over the plan with students and faculty, reminding them not to open doors for anyone.

There is a magnet system that could facilitate lockdown procedures, he said. Currently, the doors must be pushed open and keyed down before they are closed to lock them from the inside. The magnet system allows doors to be locked from the inside without pushing them open first.

Personnel committee chair Karen Scott said the committee discussed finding shared services money for resource officers.

Also discussed was the practice of dual-use classrooms. These are areas for small group instruction that may not be separated from other areas by solid walls.

Tobin said the district looked into building walls in these areas, but would not be allowed.

In older buildings, such as the township elementary schools, all classrooms are the same size, Tobin explained. In the high school, there are differences in the square footage.

In the Alpine School, the stage is used for English as a Second Language classes.

“I’m concerned about distractions,” board member Kim Yeomans said.

Tobin said the administrators try to schedule small-group instruction at different times, but that is not always possible.

Resident Leonor DiStefano said she volunteers in the Alpine School library on Monday mornings, when there are library classes in the main part of the room, and small group instruction behind a partition.

"We can hear them,” she said.

Tobin said the county has approved Sparta’s dual use classrooms.

The board also discussed going from half-day to full-day kindergarten.

Yeomans said the board will have a demographic study done before any decisions can be made. Board business administrator Linda Alvarez said a demographic study is required every five years. She said she is sending out a request for proposals to three firms that do those studies.

Tobin said there are eight sections of half-day kindergarten. DiStefano pointed out there may be more children if it goes to full day. She said she sent her son to a private kindergarten, “as it was a better day for him.”

She did say she believes Sparta gets the job done in two and a half hours.

Tobin said the district realizes they may need 10 to 12 sections if they go to full day. There is room in Mohawk Avenue School for the full day classes.

Board vice president Richard Bladek said it affects common core standards to have a full-day kindergarten.

Also discussed was the on-going high school construction project. Tobin said they are finalizing the swipe-card system, the orchestra pit, blinds for the art room windows, and some final signage.

At the regular meeting, the board will vote on such matters as payment for the pit orchestra for the high school musical, and accompanists for choir concerts, a change order on the new backstop, charges for audio-visual technicians working when outside groups use the high school auditorium, field trips and substitute teachers and aides.


Follow The Alternative Press for Sussex County News, as well as The Alternative Press of Sussex County's Facebook Page, for news, and other information.


TAP Into Another Town's News:

TAP Into Another Town's News:

Sign Up for E-News


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 ...

Sussex County Legislators vote NO to domestic violence bill

December 4, 2016

To the Editor:

Domestic violence claims at least 2,000 lives each year. Seventy percent of the victims are women. More than half of the time, the weapon used to carry out an “intimate partner” homicide — when a person targets a spouse, boyfriend or girlfriend, or someone with whom they previously had a romantic relationship — is a gun. To prevent intimate partner ...

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 ...