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LIVINGSTON, NJ — Following two public forums to be held on Thursday to gain feedback on the 2019-2020 district budget, the Livingston Board of Education (LBOE) will vote on the budget on April 29 in addition to discussing other items that include approving a part-time vice principal to help with administrative duties at Mount Pleasant Middle School (MPMS) and potentially addressing some student safety concerns.
Interim Superintendent James O’Neill said during Monday night’s board meeting that a recent meeting with MPMS faculty resulted in the overall consensus that “it’s difficult for one administrator to run the building” at MPMS.
He recommended that in addition to the principal and two supervisors who are currently stationed at MPMS, the district should also appoint a part-time vice principal to work two out of the five school days each week. The schedule would be subject to change “according to the needs of the principal,” he said.
During his superintendent report, O’Neill also announced that the board is looking to come up with a possible solution to issues regarding student privacy after a recent incident in which a member of the public who was not a student's parent live-streamed an event Hillside Elementary School. The incident caused concern among parents and educators over the safety and privacy of children in a digital age where photos and video can be streamed instantaneously across different platforms like Facebook and Instagram.
Although he did not go into specific details, O’Neill stated that the board has a proposal and will decide whether a public discussion will be held on this matter during the next meeting on April 29.
During Monday’s meeting, the LBOE also sought to assuage any public concerns regarding counselor support across the district.
The board provided a breakdown of the 53 total counseling professionals employed across the district, which includes 24 school counselors as well as seven social workers, 11 psychologists, four additional psychologists through the LINKS program, three student assistance counselors and four behaviorists (or BCBAs). More on this breakdown can be seen in photos above.
“There’s a ton of support in this district,” said O’Neill. “Those counselors all offer support for the administrative staff; they help with students who have special needs and any disabilities. They help other people understand how to provide accommodations for those students so they can be successful.”
In other news, O’Neill announced that the board is continuing to interview candidates in the superintendent search and hopes to fill the vacancy as quickly as possible.
“That process continues this week,” said O’Neill. “When [the interviews] are behind us, the board will decide if they need to see anyone again.”
Additionally, LBOE President Buddy August announced that the members of the LBOE and the township council will be hosing a joint five-on-five public meeting on April 23 at 7 p.m. at the municipal building to discuss ongoing and potential collaborative projects between both entities. He encouraged the community to bring forth any suggestions.
On the budgetary front, the LBOE is hosting two public forums on Thursday at 11 Foxcroft Drive at 10 a.m. and 7 p.m. to discuss the budget in more detail and answer any questions prior to the vote on April 29. Public comment and participation is encouraged.
To learn more about the proposed budget and the the tax impact to residents, click HERE.