BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ - Superintendent Judith Rattner advised the board that the school year has gotten off to a good start at Thursday's Board of Education meeting. Board President Helen Kirsch agreed, "I attended the teachers' welcome, the energy was phenomenal. It looks like it will be a really good year."
Rattner stated that back to school has gone smoothly with the common issues with transportation. With 2,000 students being transported, it takes time to get everything to run smoothly. She is thankful to the volunteers at MaryKay McMillin School for riding the bus to help with the transition. Notification improvements have been made by phone calls and email blast when the school is aware of a bus running late. They are trying to make further improvements by placing the bus lists in the Honeywell system.
The Gov. Livingston senior class requested to Principal Scott McKinney and the administration to reinstate the open campus policy that allows qualified students to leave school with a pass during a specific time period during lunch period. After review of the class list for discipline infractions, tardiness, absences and grade qualifications, McKinney endorsed and forwarded request to Superintendent Rattner for board approval.
"We are ecstatic about open campus. It's an honor to be here to persuade the Board of Ed to approve our request. " said Ian St. Clair, Senior Class Representative. There is a four page application that students need to read and follow the guidelines. A senior class meeting will explain the procedures to the students.
Out of the 250 students in the senior class, 200 qualify for the privilege. Rattner advised the class representatives that Principal McKinney is "the keeper" of this privilege and it can be taken away if a student fails to follow the rules or if conditions become dangerous. A tiered level of consequences for violations is in place.
The board unanimously voted to approve the request. The open campus will start on October 1 and pass cards will be mailed home.
Board Member Doug Reinstein reported that an agreement has been made in the litigation between the BOE and a group regarding the lighted events at Gov. Livingston. The issue is "finally resolved". The agreement allows for four lighted events at the high school per year. The portable temporary lights will be brought in for each event. Requirements were set for a time the lights and music must be turned off, with the exception for the Relay for Life event, due to the overnight nature of this event.
Board Member John Sincaglia acknowledged a letter from Berkeley Heights PTO President, Elisa Probst. He wanted to applaud the PTO for the generosity and work they provide to our schools. Their donations reached almost $200,000 this past year in equipment, programs, project graduation and teacher grants. "The work they do is so important and appreciative. It's a pleasure to go to their meetings," said Sincaglia.
The Gov. Livingston Board of Education Student Representatives are Victoria Piatnochka and Jimmy Longo.
- Victoria Piatnochka reported that she is honored to be the student representative for the second year. She is an active student involved as an Editor for the Year Book, Spanish Club and Math League Team. She has noticed that the parking lot has been crazy at the high school, taking 20 minutes to exit. She attributes the busy parking lot to the open campus privilege not being in place. There have been a few accidents and police have had a constant presence at the school due to various traffic violations.
- Jimmy Longo reported that he is happy to be a student representative. He is an active junior playing football, basketball and is a member of the track team. He is on the executive committee for TREND and Student Council. He reported, "All clubs have had or will soon have their first meetings. Sports and the fall schedule are going well with Boys Soccer (1-1), Girls Soccer (3-0) and Field Hockey is also doing very well. The GL Football opening game against Scotch Plains had a game suspension today due to lightening."
Additional Board Reports:
- Assistant Superintendent Pat Qualshie was part of the Apple Kick-Off working with Apple. She learned about 900,000 apps available for the iPad. There was a presentation that demonstrated 100,000 samples, showing the opportunities available for the classroom.
- Susan Rambetsy, District Supervisor of Science, has worked with the Berkeley Heights Education Foundation and Summit Medical Group on their funding of an innovative program at Liberty Science Center. This program will be offered to 100 High School Students to view a live kidney transplant with an opportunity to communicate with the surgeons.
- Facility work over the summer included: replacement of classroom sinks at MaryKay McMillin, asbestos tile removal projects, ceiling replacement projects, exterior door replacement at the high school and middle school, steps repaired at Mt. Park, water main replacement at MaryKay McMillin, the fully functioning generator at the high school was tested twice and wiring network access points were installed at the high school.
- Five quotes were received to provide an energy audit to be funded by the New Jersey Clean Energy Program. Approval was made for Clough Harbor & Associates to conduct the audit for each school at a cost of $23,802.
- Back to School Nights begin next week with the elementary schools on Tuesday, MaryKay McMillin Kindergarten on Wednesday and Governor Livingston on Thursday.
- The Berkeley Heights Environmental Committee advised the board that the loss of foliage between Primrose School and Woodruff School will be replaced with new plantings.
Next Board of Education Meeting will be held on Sept. 26, public session begins at 8 p.m. at Columbia Middle School Multi Purpose Room, 345 Plainfield Avenue, Berkeley Heights.