MILLBURN, NJ - In official business at Tuesday’s Board of Education meeting, the board accepted a total of $178,272 in grants from the Education Foundation of Millburn-Short Hills. Board President Jeffrey Waters thanked the foundation for its contribution of a total of $203,570 in grants this school year to the district.
Foundation co-presidents Amy Talbert and Debbie Rieder outlined some of the programs that will benefit from the grants, including expanded participation of the township schools in the Big Read national program to encourage more children to read and donation of additional i-pads to the district’s basic skills program.
Waters also made a presentation to representatives of Caring Kids of Millburn for their recent recognition for reaching out to help a daycare program in Newark. Caring Kids’ mission is “to help children grow into compassionate, positive, and empowered members of society through character education, social activities, and parent support.”
The board president said it is not always possible for the Board of Education to know “which voices speak for the community,” but through their positive contributions, he noted, organizations like the Education Foundation and Caring Kids definitely do speak out for the community.
On another matter, Superintendent of Schools James Crisfield reviewed proposed changes to the 2013-2014 school calendar and proposals for the 2014-2015 calendar.
Crisfield noted the 2013-2014 calendar remains pretty much the same as previously discussed, with nine delayed openings--on October 8, November 14 and December 11 of this year and January 30, February 11, March 19, May 28 and June 11 of next year--set aside as additional professional development days.
For the 2014-2015 school year, the superintendent proposed a shorter, five-day break in April. One of the main reasons for this, he said, was to allow the school year to end on June 18 rather than having school extend into the fourth week of June.
Parents and board members who spoke at Tuesday’s meeting generally felt the shorter April break was not a good idea, because, many of them said, it would decrease student study time for the advanced placement tests and, with student athletes being asked to report during the summer for some practices, they felt the shorter break might also take away from breaks the students needed.
Crisfield noted the proposed calendar changes only were discussion items on Tuesday’s agenda and probably would be voted on at the next board meeting.
On another topic, with prom season approaching, Birnberg said parents and students needed to take much more seriously the problems of drug use and drinking, especially with teenagers driving to and from prom-related activities. He cited the recent case of a Middletown, NY, youth killed when the car in which he was riding on the way to a prom collided with a tractor-trailer truck.
Wenik and board member Eric Siegel, whose childhood friend was killed in an alcohol-related accident, echoed Birnberg’s call for parents to take more responsibility.
Wenik said township parents should help the district in getting the word out to parents and students through such groups as the Millburn Municipal Alliance Committee.
On another matter, Assistant Superintendent of Schools Christine Burton announced the district Strategic Planning Committee would be releasing its community survey on district schools “live” this week.
In response to public and board questions, she said the survey would be released through the school Parent Teacher Organization newsletters and local media along with emails to all school parents and staff members.