Berkeley Heights Board of Education Honors Retiring Teachers; Awards Student Commendations for Scholarship and Athletic Achievements

Teacher Joan Tonto thanks the Berkeley Heights Board of Education, students and their parents for her commendation as she retires from township schools. Looking on is Superintendent of Schools, Judith Rattner.

BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ - It was a night of milestones for the Berkeley Heights public schools at Thursday's Board of Education meeting as nine teachers officially wound up their careers with the school system, many of their students were cited for academic achievements and the Central Jersey Group 2 champion Governor Livingston Softball Team was honored for its achievements on the diamond.

The board also honored three of its own, as Superintendent of Schools, Judith Rattner, was commended for being named Superintendent of the Year by the Gateway II Chamber of Commerce and President of the New Jersey School Administrators Association, and Conor Quinn and John McNamara were cited for serving as student representatives to the board for 2009-2010.

Retiring teachers honored were: Clifford Lauterhalm, Jody Pfeiffer, Joan Tonto, Susan Coen, Joan Eichhorn, Susan Provence, Dorine Karnash, Mary Ann Ranger and Kathleen Vagell.

Recognized for academic achievements were 2010 National Merit Scholarship Finalists and Commended Students, students recognized by the Union County School Boards Association for distinguished contributions to their school and community, the 2010 Union County Superintendents' Roundtable Outstanding Scholar, winners of the 2010 Union County School Counselors' Association "We Care Scholarship", students recognized for participation in the 2010 New Jersey Scholars Program, winners of the 2010 Union County Administrators' Student Recognition, Future Business Leaders of America State Help Desk Champion, the winners of the Berkeley Heights League of Women Voters Citizenship Award, winners of the "Voice of Democracy" essay contest sponsored by the Berkeley Heights Veterans of Foreign Wars, winners in the Union County and New Jersey Teen Arts Festivals, those who attained perfect Scholastic Aptitude Test scores in mathematics, reading and writing, top achievers in the 2010 Science Olympiad and the Merck State Science Exam, students named to the Junior Engineering Technical Society, and winners in Latin I, Latin II and Poetry IV in the ACL/NJCL National Latin Exam.

In addition to the championship softball players, student athletes in a number of other sports also were cited for their outstanding achievements.

In other business, the board formalized its contract amendment with the Berkeley Heights Education Association through which Berkeley Heights teachers agreed to freeze their salaries for the first two months of the upcoming school year at their current levels and decrease by half the amount they will ask the school district to pay for taking graduate courses for the upcoming school year.

Board of Education Vice President John Sincaglia explained the reductions agreed to by the education association add up to about $239,000 of the $902,866 reductions in the 2010-2011 school budget agreed to with the Township Council after township voters defeated the proposed budget in the April school election.

Replying to a resident who questioned some of the budget reductions outlined at a board meeting last month, Mr. Sincaglia noted Mrs. Rattner had prepared a list of proposed reductions to meet the figure agreed to with the council and those reductions totaled the agreed reduction amount. He added even though the board made some reductions in areas other than those suggested by the governing body the bottom line total was still the same.

Board member, Dr. Gerald Crisonino, reported the board, in cooperation with the Superintendent, is exploring further ways to increase revenue such as charging fees for student activities, instituting parking fees at Governor Livingston High School and allowing parents to use credit or debit cards to pay for student lunches in cafeterias.

Superintendent Rattner noted about 10% of the athletic budget, or about $70,000, was reduced due to the budget defeat, and an intramural program will be instituted in the middle school to involve a greater number of students than currently participate in sports.

In addition, she said, the township Recreation Department may offer activities to offset school activities which do not draw the minimum of 25 participants the school board feels necessary to justify a stipend for a coach or advisor.

Booster clubs also will be approached for donations to various sports, she added.

Rattner's proposals are expected to be presented at the Thursday, July 8, board meeting so they can be enacted by September.

In other actions, the board approved the re-employment of approximately 200 tenured staff members and 58 non-tenured staff members for the 2010-2011 fiscal year.

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