NUTLEY, NJ -  “Your Budget is your financial expression of your student achievement goal.” said Charlene Petersen, New Jersey School Board Association at the Nutley Board of Education retreat. 

The Nutley Board of Education members, Superintendent Dr. Julie Glazer and BOE administrators completed Ethics Training and Goals Setting for 2017-2018 at the regular BOE public meeting June 26, 2017.

Charlene Peterson from the NJ School Board Association led the team through the ethics training and goal setting process. The participants worked together to revisit and revise the 3 Board of Education goals set the previous year and added a 4th goal for 2017-18 school year.

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Goal # 4: Budget Process - Introduce a Zero-Based Budget Process for the 2018-19 school year.

Zero-based budgeting (ZBB) is a method of budgeting in which all expenses must be justified for each new school year. Zero-based budgeting starts from a "zero base," and every function within the district is analyzed for its needs and costs. Budgets are then built around what is needed for the upcoming school year, regardless of whether the budget is higher or lower than the previous one.

Goal # 3: Effective Communications To support and provide resources for the achievement of the district goals

* Board to Administration * Board Member to Board Member * Board to Community

Goal # 2: Policy - Continue to Review, Develop and Implement a Policy Revision Structure

Goal # 1: Professional Development Develop a training plan for the Board members and administrators to include team building, confidentiality and effective communication.  (Note: This was the board’s #3 goal last year)

Performance Evaluation

Peterson also reviewed with the members, the results of their performance evaluation.

Evaluation results led to discussion on the structure and design of the BOE committees included looking into elimination of overlap between committees. Dr. Glazer serves on all four of the committees and noted: ‘some things are repeated over and over in every committee.’ The four committees are: Academic, Administration, Finance and Policy. Policy was added last year and is chaired by member Sherman.

It was noted by Glazer that upcoming changes to the district website may allow every committee member to have access to meeting minutes and information from each of the four committees. Glazer also asked: “How can we use our website better? What changes are needed to drive people; parents, the community etc. to the website to find the information they need?”

The members survey results indicated the collective highest level of concern was confidentiality: defined partially as ‘Working together in a spirit of trust and confidence; ensuring all members have input in decisions; operating in accordance with the code of ethics…’  Results also showed the participants highest scores were in the area of communication with the community.

Peterson stated that the lack of confidentiality was ‘not helping you in your roles, not helping you build a team. You have to know that you can trust the person sitting next to you so when you are having conversations that you are one team and the team has to be able to depend on its members. As a Board you need to be the ambassadors to the community.’ 

Board President Danny Carnicella asked: ‘Aside from recognizing when it does occur, what else is there for us to do … besides reinforcing [trust] bringing it [the issue] to the table? It doesn’t happen often. It happens occasionally. It’s tough to be in a room where trust is supposed to be there.’ Peterson responded that one recourse was to file an ethics complaint against the offending member(s).

DISTRICT GOAL

Delivering quality educational programming with measurable results

while keeping property taxes stable and home values strong.

One of the district goals discussed was implementation of the five year facilities/finance goal to address the overcrowding and aging facilities issues. Currently, 4 of the 7 school buildings have plans. Security enhancements at all schools have been or are in the process of being completed.

It was also noted that the district anticipated receiving an answer from the state the first week of July on the plans submitted for the referendum. 

DISTRICT POLICY

Regarding Policy, member Brenda Sherman shared: “Some of the policies that we pass are mandated [by the state]’. She recommended ‘we educate the community as we are passing [policies] as to what is something we can modify versus something that is not.’

As an example, Peterson stated that one policy that is optional for districts covers ‘social media’ use guidelines for Board members.

As part of her presentation on Policy, Superintendent shared the new district organization chart. It was agreed that improving communication between the district and community will be a part of each of the district goals.

Ethics Advisory Opinions

A school official may request an advisory opinion to determine if any proposed activity or conduct by a school official would constitute a violation of the Act.

Peterson advised the members that there are four levels of sanctions for members found to be in violation after a hearing on an ethics violation.

  1. Removal from the Board
  2. Suspension from the Board
  3. “Hand Slap”
  4. A resolution read at a meeting alleging the violation

Ethics Violations: Volunteerism

Members were provided direction regarding volunteerism ethics violations. An advisory opinion was requested by a board member in another district. The Board member had volunteered to help with a school play and ethics violations noted were: 

  • Enmeshed in the building e.g. volunteer coaches, club advisors, playground aides
  • Supervision, management and direction of school personnel and funds
  • Regular contact with students, parents and staff
  • Active day-to-day presence

Collective Bargaining: Out of District Relationships

Changes were discussed including:

  • If employee is BOE/Admin or family member (Nepotism definition + ‘others’)is employed out of district and is in the same or similar statewide union, and lives in the same household, member may not participate in negotiations or discussion including voting
  • If employee is BOE/Admin or family member (Nepotism definition + ‘others’) is employed out of district and is in the same or similar statewide union, and lives in outside of household, member may participate unless relative has heightened union involvement – negotiation chair, union officer…

Nepotism Policy

New Jersey has expanded the definition of a ‘relative’ and now includes:

  • Spouse/Civil Union or Domestic Partner
  • Parent/Step Parent
  • Grandparent/Grandchild
  • Child/Stepchild and Son/Daughter-in-law
  • Siblings, Step brothers/sisters
  • Aunt, Uncle, Niece, Nephew

Whether related to the individual or spouse/partner by blood marriage or adoption. It was also noted that recent opinions expanded the definition of Nepotism to include “other” such as first cousins, co-habiting partner, ex-spouse etc.

Conflicts of Interest

Members were advised to recuse themselves from voting if there is a benefit to themselves or a member of their immediate family (or others) due to a:

  • Business interest
  • Use of the position to secure unwarranted privileges
  • Financial Involvement
  • Gift, favor etc. that was offered with the intent to influence
  • Personal involvement that creates a benefit
  • Service or employment that may prejudice independent judgment

The Board also approved 8 Finance resolutions including:

1. Legal Services/Negotiations Counsel -  services of Frank Pomaco, Esq. of Gaccione & Pomaco, P.C. to serve as negotiations counsel for the Nutley Board of Education at a rate of $225/hr. inclusive of expenses.

2. Legal Services/Board Counsel - services of Schenk Price Smith & King, LLP to serve at the will of the board as board counsel for the Nutley Board of Education at a rate of $175/hr.

Members Scalera and Kucinski both attended part of the meeting/retreat and left early due to other commitments. The remaining board members went into Closed Session to discuss personnel issues.

Members Lisa Danchak-Martin, Frederick Scalera, and Salvatore Ferraro filed petitions June 29 with Essex County Clerk Chris Durkin to seek reelection to the Board in November.  https://www.tapinto.net/towns/nutley/sections/education/articles/nutley-board-of-education-members-file-petitions

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Videos from the Retreat here:

Note: Dr. Glazer delivered a presentation on Nutley District Goals 2016 – 17 at the June 19, 2017 BOE Meeting. The power point presentation of last year’s goals including Qualitative Goal #1 below, can be viewed here: http://www.nutleyschools.org/userfiles/828/my%20files/goalspresentation2016-2017.pdf?id=67243

Superintendent Merit Goals Qualitative Goal #1:

Based on the Superintendent’s entry plan survey data, communication is a priority in the Nutley Public schools and Nutley community. To improve effective communication and trust between the Superintendent, Board of Education and school community, and to increase communication with

parents and community stakeholders about district programs and initiatives, the Superintendent will develop a Communication Plan to provide accurate and ongoing district information, enhance community relations, and engage key stakeholders in the issues impacting the schools.

Qualitative Goal #1 Evidence of Completion

  • The district website will be a resource for parents and community
  • Members Email, Twitter, Facebook, and the district website will be more effectively used as the most up-to-date, accurate source for information.
  • A “Week In Review” email will be sent to all key stakeholders
  • A Board Brief will be posted prior to BOE meetings
  • At least three Community Conversations will be held with the Superintendent, as well as Town Hall meetings on topics of interest
  • Superintendent will regularly attend community events and city meetings

TAPinto Nutley covered all communications events sponsored by the BOE in the 2016-17 school year.

Education articles here: https://www.tapinto.net/towns/nutley/sections/education