GLEN ROCK, NJ — Trustees approved $8,734.40 in merit pay to Interim Superintendent Bruce Watson during their May 13 board meeting for achieving two year-round goals during his second year as the district chief.
The pay is contingent upon a superintendent setting and reaching qualitative merit goals to allow him or her to earn more money in their role following Governor Christie’s executive order that placed a cap on superintendent pay, hindering a raise.
“That caused a lot of mayhem with superintendents because now other administrators get more money than superintendents,” Watson explained during the meeting. “It’s off balance.”
Since starting with the Glen Rock school district in 2017, Watson has been paid $671 per diem.
The merit goals — which are priced at $4,367.20 each — was part of Watson’s agreement to stay on for a second year, he said.
His first goal was successfully leading the district through a $14.7 million referendum process, which was passed by borough taxpayers by a slim margin in March.
Since the board received $4.5 million in state aid from the Department of Education for the project, the cost was reduced to $10.2 million with a slated tax burden of $175.20 per year, or $14.60 per month, on the average home assessed at $563,170.
The referendum will make various aesthetic improvements to the six-school district in addition to improving student health and wellness. The project calls for new air-conditioning units in the district’s four elementary schools; a new irrigation system and upgrades to the playing field at Alexander Hamilton School; new seating and acoustical improvements to the Central School Auditorium; and a state-of-the-art media center for the Glen Rock Middle/High School.
The new media center, in-line with 21st Century learning, will include futuristic furniture, additional classroom space, HVAC upgrades, new carpeting and lighting, and a maker space area for middle school students which will be partitioned off by a broadcast studio for aspiring journalism students.
The board decided at their May 3 meeting to go with their bond counsel’s suggestion of taking out a 15-year bond. The payoff plan, which will cost taxpayers between $20-$30 on their tax bills more per year, will save $2 million in interest costs and pay off the debt five years sooner. Trustees will vote to approve the sale of the bonds at their May 28 meeting.
The second goal the superintendent implemented was a pilot of a 3:1 service delivery model with the Speech-Language Department personnel.
The idea for the pilot program was first introduced to the district in September 2017 when school officials from Fair Lawn, which included the speech language pathologist and principal, visited Glen Rock to discuss their implementation of the 3:1 model. This model involves three weeks of direct intervention services by the speech language pathologist and one week of consultative services. The 3:1 model involves direct and indirect therapy therapy services that include working with students one on one, in a small group setting and in the classroom. The second is indirect, which involves monitoring, consulting and collaborating.
This new 3:1 model works to improve challenges presented in the current traditional therapy model. This includes “pull out services,” which did not fully address measuring student success in a classroom setting after having worked on skills in isolation like articulation and stuttering.
During the May 13 board meeting, Dr. Linda Edwards and three district language therapists told the board during a presentation that the program, which Glen Rock school officials piloted last year, has been a success despite a few minor bumps in the process like scheduling conflicts and transitioning the use of the model for all elementary students -- issues they will work to correct when the program starts up again in September.
The model has been implemented with 92 percent of the elementary students that are eligible for speech-only services.
The presenters agreed that the parents have been “very receptive” to the new 3:1 model, which they called a “great resource.”
“We’ve had a very successful pilot and we are looking forward to continuing the model next year and having it integrated throughout the district in students with other IEPs (Individualized Education Programs) with parent consent,” said Edwards.