Millburn Scores on Year End State Assessments: Crisfield Explores Storm Make-Up Days

Dr. Christine Burton gave a presentation on the district's state test scores. Credits: Sara Louise Lazarus
Regina Truitt, Lise Chapman, Sam Levy listen as Jean Pasternak addresses the board. Credits: Sara Louise Lazarus

MILLBURN, NJ - In her presentation at the November 14 Millburn Board Of Education meeting, Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum Dr. Christine Burton reported on results from NJ ASK and HSPA exams. Overall, Millburn remains solidly on a par with D,F,G and other J districts. There was a slight dip in sixth grade NJ ASK scores, prompting Burton to plan “vertical and horizontal articulation meetings” to address the transition from Elementary to Middle School. The Middle School met 39 of 40 Federal Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) indicators, and the other 6 Millburn schools met all 40 indicators. The District goal is that by 2014 all students be 100 percent proficient in terms of No Child Left Behind (NCLB) standards.

According to Superintendent Dr. James Crisfield, make-up “snow days” will in all likelihood be taken from the beginning of the April break. The three allotted snow days were used during the recent storm. Any further days off will have to be made up, unless, as board member Regina Truitt suggested, the district petitions Governor Christie to excuse the days lost in October as part of a “disaster.” Dr. Crisfield clarified that all vacation days must be used up before there can be an appeal to the Commissioner.

Crisfield added that another option is to “recapture” Jan. 2, the Monday after the Christmas/New Year’s break. However,that day may be needed as a make-up day for Glenwood and Hartshorn Schools, which lost two additional days because of loss of power resulting from the storm. Also being considered as make-ups for those two days are Martin Luther King Day or a Saturday. Crisfield promised to present his decision in two weeks at the next board meeting.

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There was a lengthy discussion about situations in which parents are in authority positions in activities or classes that include their own children. Examples of this are paid athletic coaches, or teachers. Board member Jeff Waters asked what safeguards are currently in place to avoid conflict of interests, and whether those policies that do exist are implemented. 

Personnel Committee Chairman Jean Pasternak and Regina Truitt made separate motions that the Policy Committee, headed by former President Sam Levy, develop a policy to address the issue more specifically than it currently does. Neither motion passed, prompting  Crisfield to offer to investigate what other districts are doing and report back to the Board, saying “Let’s not reinvent the wheel.”

Crisfield announced that Millburn High School is part of the 2nd annual Advanced Placement Honor Roll of 367 schools nationwide. He and the Board praised Principal Miron and teachers at the high school for “opening the door wider” to students wanting to take Advanced Placement classes, yet still maintaining excellence. Member Lise Chapman said that “entire sections” were added three or four years ago, that “hundreds of students have had the opportunity” and that “those children are doing incredibly well.”

Chapman brought up the fact that the Red Cross has moved its offices and operations to Summit. While saying “that may be totally fine, totally great,” Chapman added “…if you wondered why there wasn’t any relief for Millburn during the floods it’s because the Center was out of Summit not out of Millburn.”

In a prepared statement, Pasternak clarified her comments from the previous meeting concerning Charter Schools, saying that “Unequivocally, charter schools do not serve the best interests of the students of Millburn. I am completely against taxation without representation and the current legislation does not allow for taxpayers to have a say about charters opening in their communities…” However, she added, “We would be wasting a valuable resource by ignoring or not asking citizens what they think or want from our schools. That includes Millburn taxpayers and parents who may be involved in charter schools. They are not enemies; they are our neighbors and deserve the courtesy to be listened to as any other.”

Further details were announced by Crisfield regarding a panel discussion on “hot education topics” such as legislation that could come up in the upcoming Lame Duck Session in Trenton. This includes a number of charter school and voucher bills. The discussion will take place Wednesday, Nov. 30 at the Mt. Pleasant Middle School in Livingston. Legislators from the 27th and 21st Districts will be invited to share their thoughts on the subject.

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