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LIVINGSTON, NJ — Updates provided during Monday’s Livingston Board of Education (LBOE) meeting informed the school community about recent donations made to the Livingston Education Foundation (LEF), ongoing summer curriculum-writing initiatives, how to provide input during the budgeting process and more.
Representing the LEF, Greer Gelman and Stefanie Lichtstein announced that an anonymous benefactor has donated funds that will allow the LEF to offer 10 grants of up to $1,000 each to Livingston teaches in order to help enhance their classrooms. Grant applications will be accepted until Jan. 15, 2020.
Gelman and Lichtstein—both Livingston graduates of 1990 and current staff members at Collins Elementary School—encouraged community members to support the foundation, which provides school-community partnerships, mentoring and shared funding to enhance educational opportunities for every student K-12 at Livingston Public Schools
Parents were directed to the LEF website to learn how to become involved.
Also during the meeting, MaryBeth Kopacz, Director of Curriculum and Instruction Humanities/PD, and Natalie Topylko, Director of Curriculum and Instruction STEM/Testing, provided an update regarding the summer curriculum-writing initiatives.
The overview presented to the board outlined the five-year cycle all curriculum is subject to, with the goal being that 20 percent of the curriculum is reviewed, revised or renewed each summer, noting that curricula are “living documents.” This review confirms that the curriculum is aligned “with what [Livingston’s] current needs are,” they said.
The presentation highlighted what is valued when writing curriculum for the district. Initiatives such as future-ready skills, global perspectives, integration of 21st century themes and skills and student-centered, authentic learning as well as social-emotional competencies are strived for.
The presentation also outlined some accomplishments from 2019, which included: 105 completed projects, 101 revisions and four new courses; Advanced Placement (AP) seminar and research; establishing Holocaust and Amistad as embedded content; and providing opportunities for dual-enrollment courses, which allows high school students to receive college credits.
According to the Kopacz and Topylko, the next steps are to continue to provide future-ready practices; introduce new standards in technology, social studies, LGBTQIA+, horizontal and vertical articulation within and across content areas; and continue the cycle of reflection, revision and implementation.
At the completion of the presentation, board members thanked the administrators for their work.
“We all appreciate the work you have done; it creates the cornerstone of what goes on in our classes,” said LBOE Vice President Ronnie Konner.
In other news, Livingston Education Association (LEA) President Anthony Rosamilia also attended Monday’s meeting to provide a few updates and to congratulate newly elected LBOE member Seth Cohen and incumbent Samantha Messer on her re-election on behalf of the LEA executive board.
Speaking about the of the Rutgers University Labor Management Collaborative, which he described as “cutting-edge research,” Rosamilia noted that he, the superintendent and Sue Berman recently attended a workshop and are now “hoping to move forward with the initiative.”
He remarked that there are some best practices that the district doesn’t fully participate in just yet, but that he thinks it “would make our collaboration even more explicit—something that we are not just saying, but are actually doing.”
Rosamilia, a U.S. History teacher at Livingston High School, thanked Superintendent Dr. Matthew Block for attending the seminar despite having an overlapping event elsewhere in the district that day.
“This really shows his character as a person,” said Rosamilia. “As a superintendent, he’s only been here a few months, so the jury is still out; but as a person, I really think that speaks volumes.”
During the regular meeting agenda, the LBOE passed numerous policies that were mandated on second reading.
These policies involved teaching and support staff as it relates to reporting to the district incidents involving child abuse; results of medical examination and substance abuse; and an update to the policy regarding commercial driver’s licenses with federal regulation citations.
Additionally, the board updated the policy for reimbursement of federal and other grant expenditures to remove the previous threshold of $50,000 for submitting amended applications and leave the threshold at more than 10 percent of the total award.
A brief discussion also ensued regarding the need for more input during the budget process from the stakeholders, including the students.
LBOE student representative Nirav Patel, for instance, put forth a request from the AP Art History students, who would like the opportunity to advance their studies with a class visit to Paris.
CLICK HERE to read more from this meeting, where the mascots of all six elementary schools joined the presidents and vice presidents of each student council as they presented overviews of the programs being initiated to enhance a sense of community at each school.
The next board of education meeting will be held on Dec. 9.