BRIDGEWATER, NJ - Issues still exist between the Bridgewater-Raritan School District’s administration and its teacher’s union with regard to a lack of communication between the two entities.
The school board was taken to task again by Laura Kress, president of the Bridgewater-Raritan Education Association at the recent school board meeting. With regard to the possibility of the district pushing back the start times at the high school and maybe the middle school, Kress reiterated that the association is not opposed to well-planned and reasonable time changes.
“We need a plan before we can get on board with anything,” Kress said.
She then spoke of a lack of communication between administrators and the district’s staff, which she said is the perception of most of the staff. She said e-mails have gone unanswered, ostensibly about homework policies and other issues.
“There’s no direction,” she said.
Kress spoke again later that evening, starting once more with the start times issue. She reiterated that the B-REA is not opposed to well-planned changes, but is “more concerned with the process.”
She then returned to the issue of the perceived lack of communication, which she added has been going on over the past several years. She also spoke about the proverbial straw that “broke the camel’s back.”
She said primary school teachers sent emails to the administration, but did not getting any responses. She added that teachers can’t get answers, but an outside party “got a front row seat” concerning the start times issue and the creation of surveys that were sent to the public, something that she had criticized in public at the previous board meeting.
Kress said the staff feels like “no one cares.”
She added that her own email inbox instead got flooded with messages from the staff, due to the administration’s lack of response.
“It seems like it hasn’t gotten much better,” added Kress, who has complained of a lack of communication from the administration in previous years.
She said there had been staff committee emails sent about the district’s homework policy, all before the recent winter break, which also received no response.
“It degrades the trust between parties,” said Kress of the non-communication. “We want this to stop.”
Kress said the staff had not been involved with the start times survey that had gone out last year, or in anything on the start times matter until November, even though the discussion had begun in May.
The board did not respond publicly to Kress’ questions, but board member Melanie Thiesse said she would like to hear what Kress had to say on behalf of the teachers. Thiesse also asked if there could possibly be an item put on the board’s agenda to allow Kress the opportunity to speak at meetings, rather than to be cut off while speaking during the time-limited public sessions.
Barlow said she feels it is important to hear what Kress has to say, while board member Zachary Malek proposed that four board members could possibly hold a meeting with Kress, as requested.
Board member Lynne Hurley said that board members are not supposed to respond to individual invitations to scholastic events, and that such requests are supposed to go through administration. She also said that sometimes she doesn’t see a notice for such events until after they have been held.
“I apologize if anyone feels I’m ignoring them,” said Hurley.
Lazovick said that discussions had occurred two years ago, with messages to be sent to Suzanne Calabro in administration, but Kress replied that she had nothing in writing.