Education

District to Retest Faucets after 17 Found High Lead Levels: Citizens Address BOE Regarding Full Day Kindergarten in Berkeley Heights

84590e15bc030faeed9a_no-drinking-water-md.jpg
84590e15bc030faeed9a_no-drinking-water-md.jpg

BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ - To be in compliance with the New Jersey Department of Education regulations, the Berkeley Heights School District identified and tested all faucets utilized for drinking or food preparation outlets for lead in all six schools during the November Teachers' Conference break. As a result of testing, 17 of the 205 sites tested were found to be above the required levels. Some of the locations identified are rarely used.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, 15 parts per billion is the action level for lead in drinking water. Immediate action was taken by the district.

Full results can be found at bhpsnj.org.

Sign Up for E-News

A parent letter from Superintendent of Schools Judith Rattner dated January 4, 2017 stated, "In accordance with the NJ Department of Education regulations, the Berkeley Heights School District will implement immediate remedial measures for any drinking water outlet with a result greater than the Lead Action Level of 15 ug/1 (parts per billion [PPB]). This includes turning off the outlet unless it is determined the location must remain on for non-drinking purposes. In these cases, a 'DO NOT DRINK - SAFE FOR HANDWASHING ONLY' sign will be posted."

The district will schedule a second test on January 14 at the locations identified, which will further delineate the source of high lead levels. The district will remediate the issues and take all steps necessary to ensure safe drinking water for our students and staff, the letter said. 

At Thursday's meeting, Felezzola answered a few questions regarding the issue. The faucets in question will be repaired and replaced within the next year, she said. She also confirmed that the district will continue to look at the faucets and either replace the aerators or faucets.

The testing was contracted in July 2016 for $8,000, said Felezolla. The State will reimburse for remediation costs.

Dmitriy Agafonov, a resident of Berkeley Heights, asked why the lead testing was not completed earlier if the regulation was issued in July.  Felezzola answered, "We had planned to do it over the summer, but State regulations changed August 25..... we knew regulations were changing, we waited until the changes and regulations were made before moving forward." The November Teachers' Conference break was chosen because it was necessary to do the testing when no one was in school. 

A citizen asked the board if there was concern to test the facilities for lead in the paint. Several years ago there was a concern and Felezolla advised the citizen that they check for lead paint whenever they paint something. "We have not had any issues in the buildings with lead paint." Felezzola also advised the citizen that the district architect did a facilities audit two years ago and nothing came up at that time.

In other news:

Sai Bhargavi Akiri, a Berkeley Heights resident, addressed the board regarding the District's plan to implement full day kindergarten. She asked if there were any plans for a nonbinding referendum on this topic. Board president Doug Reinstein advised the resident that Mary Kay McMillin Principal Annie Corley Hand presented the topic in October of 2014, and at that time, the board did not go ahead with full day kindergarten.

Reinstein said the studies showed no evidence that the achievement gained from full day kindergarten lasts longer than third grade. Where it showed levels of achievement were in lower socio-economic towns, he said. "We would also need a $3 to $3.5 million expenditure to increase the size of Mary Kay McMillin....The Superintendent recommended to not accept the recommendation."

He added that there has been no further work to date since that time. Corley-Hand is always working with early childhood education at the state and local level with her peers, Reinstein said. "For right now, that recommendation of October 2014 is our latest recommendation," said Reinstein. "It is something our educators are constantly looking at, but until there is another discussion and recommendation, we have our half day kindergarten."

Reinstein commended the citizens for bringing it to the Board's attention. "We will make sure to communicate this to Judy [Rattner] and Annie [Corley Hand]." He also advised the parents to talk with Annie Corley Hand, who can provide more details.

"We want our town and our kids education to be perceived as being on par," said a citizen that addressed the board.

Audit findings were also presented at Thursday's meeting by Bill Swisher of Suplee, Clooney and Company, Certified Public Accountants and identified the following recommendations and have received a response from the Board of Education:

  • It was noted that payment of federal and state payroll taxes are not confirmed as paid by an individual not involved in the process of paying payroll taxes. This resulted in a late payment of payroll taxes. Response: We are adding a layer of oversight and all payroll tax payments will be confirmed by an individual not involved in the process of paying payroll taxes.
  • 1099s were not issued to several vendors who performed services for the District and were paid in excess of $600 with no evidence that they were identified as a corporation on form W-9. Response: We have requested new W-9 forms from all vendors. Once we have received a response, we will record the status of the vendor and issue 1099s to vendors as appropriate.

The next Board of Education meeting will be held on January 19, 2017 at 8 p.m. in the Multi Purpose Room at Columbia Middle School. The first budget meeting is scheduled for January 12, 2017 and the second is scheduled for January 31, 2017 in the Music Room at Columbia Middle School. 

TAP Into Another Town's News:

Sign Up for E-News

Berkeley Heights

Local Advisor Celebrates the 20th Anniversary of the Roth IRA

February 23, 2018

BASKING RIDGE, NJ - 2018 marks the 20th anniversary of the Roth IRA. First made available to American investors in 1998, a Roth IRA is an individual retirement account that is funded with after-tax dollars and provides tax-free growth and income for retirement.

In honor of this significant milestone, Walter Pardo, CEO/Certified Wealth Strategist at Wealth ...

WFP Tax Partners Walks You Through 4 Step Tax Return Process

February 22, 2018

Over 80% of Tax Returns Have Errors or Missed Deductions. You're Probably Paying More Than Your Fair Share in Taxes

BASKING RIDGE, NJ - Tax returns certainly give a clear picture of the past year, but WFP Tax Partners believes it's wise to strategize for the current year to have a plan for moving forward. 

At your tax appointment, they ...

Reminder: Free Wellness Program for Union County Military Women

All Union County women with military service – veterans, active duty and reserve – are invited to join “Boots 2 Heels,” a free event designed to foster wellness and connect women with resources and guidance for empowerment. Boots 2 Heels will be held on Saturday, February 24 at the Westfield Armory, located at 500 Rahway Avenue in Westfield.

The event is free but ...

CSA's 5th Annual Pasta Dinner Fundraiser Set for Sunday

Is everyone ready to come together as a community and break bread to support the CSA? It's time for The Community Service Association of New Providence's 5th Annual Pasta & Meatball Dinner! This fun, family-friendly event will take place on Sunday, Feb. 25, at the DeCorso Community Center, 15 East Fourth Street, New Providence. Pasta, meatballs, and dessert will be served from 3-7 ...

Caregiver Conference Sunday, Feb. 25, Focuses on Caregiver's Needs

 

Jewish Family Service of Central NJ, (JFSCNJ) a non-sectarian health and social service agency, will be hosting a Caregiver Conference called, “Caring for a Loved One While Being Mindful of Your Own Needs,” from 10 a.m. to noon, Sunday, Feb. 25, at the Jewish Family Service of Central NJ, Halpern Building, 655 Westfield Ave. Elizabeth.  

 The Conference, ...

Colleen Mahr Has Paid Her Dues, Earned Peoples’ Trust, and Left a Track Record of Success

February 20, 2018

Dear Editor:

As a 26-year-old Scotch Plains resident who cares more about the well-being of our town than about local politics, I am extremely disappointed that the Scotch Plains Democratic Committee leadership has decided to abandon Colleen Mahr in her run for Chair of the Union County Democratic Committee.

Mahr, who as Mayor of Fanwood for 15 years has worked closely with Scotch Plains ...

We Need More Women Like Colleen Mahr in Municipal, County and State Government

Dear Editor:

I’m proud to support Colleen Mahr for Chair of the Union County Democratic Committee  (UCDC) and am encouraging my Scotch Plains peers to join me.

I was a first time candidate wanting to make a difference in my hometown of Scotch Plains, when Mayor Mahr of neighboring Fanwood stepped in to help me campaign and win my election to be Councilwoman three years ago.

Democratic Party Would Be Making a Big Mistake by Not Recognizing Colleen Mahr's Talents

Dear Editor:

Mayor Colleen Mahr has been a valuable friend to the Township of Cranford. Whether it’s offering advice and assistance during devastating flood cleanup, supporting the Mayor's Council on the Rahway River, or her insight and assistance in meeting our affordable housing obligations, Mayor Mahr is always there for Cranford.

Colleen’s fairness and integrity is ...

Chatham Borough Police Chief Crosson has Retired; Captain Gibbons is Acting Commander

February 12, 2018

CHATHAM, NJ - Phil Crosson Jr., who has been a member of the Chatham Borough Police Department since 1992, retired from his position as the police chief on Feb. 1.

"It came on pretty quickly," Crosson said when reached by phone on Sunday. "I was on vacation for six weeks and I bought a business. I came back for one day and retired."

According to Crosson, ...

‘Reefer Madness’ Comes to Chatham Borough Council; Cannabis Advocates Make Pitch for Chatham Marijuana Shop

February 14, 2018

CHATHAM, NJ - A group of pro-cannabis activists came to the Borough of Chatham Council meeting on Monday night and used the public commentary portion of the meeting to ask the council to support a marijuana dispensary in town.

The advocates, who say they have attended more than 80 town meetings to inform about the benefits of medical cannabis, mentioned the 1936 movie "Reefer ...

Upcoming Events

Fri, February 23

Scherman Hoffman Wildlife Sanctuary, Bernardsville

NJ Audubon: Volunteer Art Show!

Arts & Entertainment Green

Carousel_image_b59229b3972266545812_magnet_fundraising_auction_2018_flyer_0219

Fri, February 23, 6:30 PM

Union County Vocational Technical Schools, West Hall Cafeteria, Scotch Plains

Union County Magnet High School Silent Auction

Arts & Entertainment Food & Drink

Sat, February 24

Scherman Hoffman Wildlife Sanctuary, Bernardsville

NJ Audubon: Volunteer Art Show!

Arts & Entertainment Green

Sat, February 24, 10:00 AM

Municipal Court Room/Council Chambers, BERKELEY HEIGHTS

Return Berkeley Heights Public Library's Books, ...

Other

Carousel_image_ebabe6d4e0eb6af7bda2_https---cdn.evbuc.com-images-40285364-230483587926-1-original

Sat, February 24, 3:00 PM

White Tiger Dojo, Berkeley Heights

White Tiger Dojo Hosts Trauma Response Seminar: ...

Health & Wellness

Sun, February 25

Scherman Hoffman Wildlife Sanctuary, Bernardsville

NJ Audubon: Volunteer Art Show!

Arts & Entertainment Green

I've Always Wanted to be a Doctor...Or an English Teacher

Think about the impossibility of the task we lay in front of high school students.  In addition to getting good grades, filling up a resume, finding the right colleges and writing countless admissions essays they also need to decide on their life’s passion at 17 years old...or do they?

As a college admissions representative the first question most students would ask me was whether ...

Now That The Dust Has Settled…Smart Tax Moves In 2018

Now that the dust has settled, here are some smart tax moves to lower your taxes and/or avoid higher taxes/penalties in 2018. These steps may be especially helpful if you live in high property and high income tax states (e.g. New Jersey, New York, California) since state and local tax deductions are capped.  Unfortunately all these changes mean you’ll need more time and energy to ...

Invest Like a Tortoise -- Not Like a Hare

Aesop’s “The Tortoise and the Hare” is a perfect metaphor for the way people go about investing their money. As you recall in the fable, the hare brags about his ability to beat the tortoise and is overly confident about winning. In the investment world, the hare is someone who thinks he or she is great at selecting “winners” and avoiding “losers.” The ...