MILLBURN, NJ—Millburn parents continued at Monday’s board of education meeting to press for smaller class sizes, especially in the fourth grades at Glenwood School.
P.J. Kaiser, whose two children attend Glenwood, told the board that parents of incoming fourth graders in Glenwood share the concern about class size expressed at the June 22 meeting by parents of last year’s fourth graders.
Kaiser reading from a letter that she said contained 36 signatures of parents representing 25 of the current “rising” fourth graders, said the school body should consider not only adding a fourth grade section now, but also reducing the class size for the long term.
Advantages of smaller class size, she said, include an enhanced educational experience to all especially those with IEPs (Individual Education Plans); helping students meet the demands of a challenging curriculum; ensuring a more equitable classroom experience across all schools in the district, and providing the administration with more time to search for a highly-qualified fourth grade teacher.
Kaiser added that the parents felt 26 students was too many for a fourth grade, not only for the short term but for the long term as well.
Board program chairwoman Regina Truitt replied that her committee would continue to discuss the class size issue at each of its upcoming meetings.
On another matter, Truitt said discussions about advanced placement courses continue to be of the highest priority for the committee, and it would be on the agenda for a committee session scheduled for July 21.
She added that Superintendent of Schools Christine Burton would present the committee with a list of concerns about AP courses.
Truitt said some of the concerns the committee already sees in need of further study include:
Workload, content covered in homework, transparency of the AP selection process, qualifiers. and pre-requisite classes
Board member Richard Gray suggested that the committee also consider expanding offerings and adding the AP Capstone Program, and Truitt agreed to add this to the list.
In her personnel committee report, Truitt announced the committee’s recommendation that Salvatore Colatrella be appointed as interim director of special services.
At Monday’s meeting, the full board unanimously agreed to the appointment.
Colatrella has been working in the district since July 6, replacing Harold Tarriff, who served as interim director from January 1 to June 30.
After the meeting Burton said, “I am pleased that Mr. Colatrella has agreed to join our district in this critical role. Having worked with him in Montgomery Public Schools, I know him to be an expert in special education. Millburn Special Services will be in good hands in the coming months as we continue the search for a permanent director.”
Colatrella, a veteran educator, retired from the Montgomery Public Schools in 2012 after serving for five years as their director of pupil services. He has also served as director of special services for the Jackson public schools and the Holmdel public schools, as well as assistant director of special services in the South Orange and Maplewood public schools.
He is certified as a school psychologist with experience with regular and special education students of all grades, and served in that position for the Livingston and Kearny school districts. From 2012 to present he has been a professional learning consultant and trainer for IEP Direct Software.
Truitt added that the search would continue for a permanent director of special services as well as a new science department chairman at the high school.
On another matter, Burton told Laura Kessler of Knollwood Road that before the end of the summer there will be a notice on the results of the district study of the scheduling of extracurricular music activities—probably by high school principal William Myron and in Burton’s newsletter.
In the property committee report, board vice president Raymond Wong said the committee had been given an update on the status of the board’s possible re-purchase of the Millburn Regional Day School, with particular emphasis on participation in the process by the state, which currently has operational control of the school. The superintendent of schools indicated the board is considering making the purchase an item on an upcoming referendum.
The sustainable schools resolution was mentioned in the property committee report, and Jennifer Duckworth, Chair of the Millburn Environmental Commission, requested that it be on the agenda at the next meeting,
On another matter, Burton gaving a preliminary summary of the following board and district goals for 2015-2016:
- In the third of three years of strategic planning process focus areas-to have the implementation teams finish their work;
- To firm up planning for utilization of professional learning communities;
- To develop an objective measurement of student achievement; and
- To develop an “educational game plan” in conjunction with capital planning.
- Following up on a suggestion at last week’s board retreat by a representative of the New Jersey School Boards Association-commit to a team charter as part of team building for the board
- To revamp the committee structure of the board to help it more effectively work toward fulfilling its goals.
Board president John Westfall-Kwong said the board’s aim was to vote on the goals at its August meeting.
In another action, the school board approved the construction, operation and use of a snack stand at athletic events during the fall interscholastic sports season. The stand will be purchased by the Millburn Sports Activities Foundation and donated to the district.
The school board will give final approval to the acceptance of the stand once an agreement on its operation between the board and foundation is finalized.
Foundation representative Crystal Mollinger said the foundation’s goal was to operate the stand for the benefit of the community as a whole as well as the sports teams.
School business administrator Steven DiGeronimo said the stand would operate on a “cost neutral basis” to the district.
Mollinger also said the ultimate goal was to raise funds from operation of the stand which could be turned over to the district.