Plainfield Board of Ed Meeting Includes Consultant Presentation

Dr. Larry Leverett makes a presentation to the Plainfield Board of Education and the public. Credits: Jennifer Popper
Dr. Larry Leverett Credits: Jennifer Popper
Dr. Larry Leverett Credits: Jennifer Popper
Dr. Larry Leverett Credits: Jennifer Popper
Dr. Larry Leverett and the LEC timeline Credits: Jennifer Popper
Credits: Jennifer Popper
Timothy Priano, running for a School Board seat in the November election, asks LEC a question. Credits: Jennifer Popper
Credits: Jennifer Popper
Examples of LEC current work with School Boards Credits: Jennifer Popper
Dr. Caryn Cooper, Acting Superintendent, and Plainfield Board of Education President Emily Morgan Credits: Jennifer Popper
William Nesbitt Credits: Jennifer Popper
Aisha Eustache, also on the ballot for School Board in November, poses questions in public comment session. Credits: Jennifer Popper
Resolution regarding LinkIt Assessment Solutions, p. 62 in Aug. 22nd agenda Credits: Jennifer Popper
Tara Phipps Credits: Jennifer Popper
Councilman Cory Storch, who wishes for the Board to consider hiring LEC, and asks the Board to be transparent with the public as they search for a Superintendent Credits: Jennifer Popper
PEA President Eric Jones Credits: Jennifer Popper
Sam Cooper Credits: Jennifer Popper
Avonia Richardson-Miller asks the Board what will success with LEC look like, how many hours will they bill, will they have an office. Credits: Jennifer Popper

PLAINFIELD, NJ - On Tuesday, the Board of Education, along with the public, heard a presentation from Leverett Education Consulting, or LEC, led by former Plainfield Superintendent Dr. Larry Leverett, who retired from the Panasonic Foundation earlier this year, and his colleague, Dr. Kaili Baucum Sanderson, entitled "Building School Board Effectiveness and Efficiency."

Dr. Leverett said there were five areas that were identified in his initial conversations with Board President Emily Morgan, where Plainfield's Board would match up with LEC's skill set: 

  1. Support development of School Board governance policies and practices.
  2. Work on processes on how the School Board does its work, develop agreements on operating norms, and Board operational responsibilities, define what roles people play.
  3. Work with the Board in establishing norms that would lead to rules of engagement. 
  4. Support the Board and its efforts to define strategic direction.  If there is no strategic plan, LEC would help to develop one; Leverett said LEC doesn't have a playbook, but can provide examples of best practices.
  5. Help and support the Board's effort to learn.  As leaders in an organization on learning, School Boards need to carve out time for learning, i.e. attending retreats and workshops.

Dr. Baucum Sanderson described the values by which LEC operates:

Sign Up for E-News

  • To share values and beliefs about what is possible for all students, and know that all students have the ability to learn at high levels. 
  • To show accountability, meaning that effective school boards should maintain systems of accountability that monitor system performance so that processes in place ensure all students are achieving and getting what they need.
  • To demonstrate Board stewardship, that School Boards should demonstrate leadership to support and maintain a culture of collaboration.

The timeline that was outlined for the scope of work indicated:

  • In September/October:  Board interviews would be conducted 
  • In October/November:  Customized board self-assessment; convene retreat planning committee of 2-3 members
  • Quarterly Board retreats would potentially take place in November 2017, and in 2018, in February, April and June

The pitch projected on the screen contained many words, but no hard numbers on LEC's success rates at the schools where they have consulted, and no price points.  Those in attendance did learn that examples of LEC's current work with School Boards include:

  • Collaborative problem-solving with 14 member elected/appointed board and CEO/superintendent, County Council and County Executive
  • Design and support process to develop board work plan and calendar, as well as provide technical assistance to streamline superintendent evaluation process
  • Support the seven member elected board in developing processes to select a superintendent search committee, including engagement of stakeholders, consensus on search firm selection criteria
  • Facilitate process to develop board work plan and calendar, ensure alignment of governance/policy and strategic plan, and strategic teambuilding for siloed school board 

There were questions from School Board members, as well as the public.  Here are just a few:

Q:  How would you work to have Board members achieve consensus?

A:  Investment in team building, and agenda setting processes.  The Board then has a huge responsibility to do self-policing.

Q:  Do you assist in the search for a Superintendent?

A.  No, but we have designed processes, and helped with job descriptions, and can do so here as well.

Q.  So far I haven't heard at all what your results and accomplishments are.

A.  We don't have student achievement data we can share.  We do have references.  We can tell you the stories and changes we have seen, but we have also not been successful everywhere.

Sanderson's response, when asked to describe a timeline for turnaround in one of the "most abysmal situations" in which they worked:



In other news:

One of the questions Aisha Eustache, who will be on the ballot in November in her run for a School Board position, asked pertained to LinkIt, wondering who will analyze the data, and how the data will be disseminated.

The resolution in the agenda states that the Office of Planning Research and Evaluation / Testing recognizes LinkIt as an expert in the area of analytics, learning management and assessment software.  The cost is $64,383.  You can hear Dr. Cooper's response here:

William Nesbitt wanted to know how many teachers were let go, and in what departments, vs. how many administrators. 

Eric Jones, President of the Plainfield Education Association, or PEA, commented that the LEC presentation provided no metric nor price.  He also expressed concern that teachers may not know who the Superintendent is on the first day of school, and that the Woodland teachers have no Principal to whom they can turn.  He said there will be further staff lost at West 8th Street, and he asked for further clarification on what is happening at Barack Obama Academy.

Sam Cooper requested notifications of absent students to be sent earlier than 10:30 am for the safety of the children.  She also commented on the LEC presentation; earlier in the evening, when she asked the consultants how the community can be involved, Leverett had said "our client is the School Board, our direction comes from the School Board."  But Cooper, in her comments to the Board, said, "without us, there is no you."

Two other topics that were mentioned multiple times included:

  • Clocks that are rarely in sync, even clocks in the same room. 
  • More importantly, the need to address outreach to the Hispanic population, the necessity of providing translators and agendas in Spanish, and the hiring of bilingual staff.

Here is the agenda from the Aug. 22nd meeting, in case you missed it.  08-22-17 Agendapdf

A Board of Education meeting will take place on Monday, Aug. 28th at 8:00 pm.  It will take place at Washington Community School, located at 427 Darrow Avenue.


TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News


Upcoming Events


Fri, June 22, 9:30 AM

Plainfield Public Library, Plainfield

Health Plainfield Aunt Bertha Demonstration


Fri, June 22, 2:30 PM

Plainfield Public Library, Plainfield



Fri, June 22, 3:00 PM

Plainfield Public Library, Plainfield

Petra's Musical Zoo

Reminder: Eligible Seniors Can Receive $25 in Free Vouchers for Farmer’s Markets, Starting June 25

June 21, 2018

The Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders reminds income-eligible senior residents age 60 and over that they can apply for a total of $25 in free vouchers to purchase fresh produce. The vouchers may be used only at Farmer’s Markets in Union County that display a yellow and black WIC sign.

“Farmer’s Markets are a feature of community life throughout Union County in the ...

Get Empowered to Help Prevent Suicide

June 9, 2018

Dear Editor:

Over the past week social media and the news have been filled with stories and articles encouraging people to seek help if they’re in emotional distress. There have been countless articles about the need to break the silence around the topic of mental health and suicide, and I am encouraged by the support people are extending to others.

Often, the death by suicide by ...

North Plainfield Mom Maggie Grabko Gets Life-Saving Liver Transplant, Warren Fundraiser Set for Sunday

June 18, 2018

NORTH PLAINFIELD, NJ — Maggie Grabko, a North Plainfield mom of two, underwent a successful liver transplant on June 13, according to an update on the family’s GoFundMe page by her husband, Shawn Grabko. The Watchung Hills Elks are hosting a fundraiser, the Maggie Grabko Dinner and Music Fundraiser, at 1 Elks Trail in Warren on June ...


June 17, 2018

Hay un grupo de oficiales de policía que les dan un servicio a nuestra comunidad de una manera notable. Todos los días estos hombres y mujeres se levantan, van al trabajo, y aseguran que nuestros hijos aprendan en un ambiente seguro. Los llamamos Oficiales de Recursos Escolares, pero son mucho más. 

Si llegas a la oficina de los Oficiales de Recursos Escolares en la ...

Empleando Nuestra Juventud 

Querido Plainfield, 

Todos esperan el verano; los días son más calientes y largos, y la madre tierra se pone su mejor vestido mientras las frutas se maduran en el sol y las flores ondean un alegre "hola". La gente comienzan los paseos de la playa o piscina, y las juntas de barbacoa en los patios son necesarios en los fines de semanas.

Aquí en la ciudad de ...

Meet Toran Smith: Union County All Star

June 18, 2018

Plainfield resident, Toran Smith, age 16, has been selected to play on the 2018 Union County underclassmen all star team.  On June 10th, the Union County All-Stars played against the Hudson County All-Stars at Kean University.  Smith played third baseman. 

Smith, a junior at Union County Vo-Tech magnet high school, is a Junior infielder on the Plainfield Cardinals Varsity ...

'Half Time' lights up Paper Mill stage

‘Half Time’ turns the tables on aging in gleeful production

By Liz Keill

MILLBURN, NJ – The Paper Mill Playhouse is putting on a smashing new production of “Half Time” to round out its current season.

With actress Georgia Engel in an engaging performance, the cast also features Donna McKehnie, Andre De Shieilds and Lilias White, among a host of other ...

The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn

The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn (William Morrow, 2018)


A friend, whose opinion on literature I respect greatly, reported to me recently that she had just finished reading A.J. Finn's debut novel, The Woman in the Window. Of it she said, “I wish I hadn't finished it,” which I interpreted to mean, “It was so good I'm sorry that I finished it.” ...

When the Men Go Off to War by Victoria Kelly

When the Men Go Off to War by Victoria Kelly (Naval Institute Press, 2015)

Victoria Kelly's first published volume of poetry, When the Men Go Off to War, is a wonder in that poems can be written so beautifully about the subject of war. Each poem is a jewel, polished and colorful, glittering with elegant imagery, and rich in emotional wallop. The book, divided into three sections, ...

The Queen of the Big Time by Adriana Trigiani (Ballentine Books, 2005)

            The Queen of the Big Time by Adriana Trigiani, a New York Times best selling author, was recommended to me by a young woman who actually came from the town of Roseto, Pennsylvania, the place where the novel is set. “The author did such a wonderful job of describing how the town actually is,” said the young lady.

The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah (St. Martin's Press, 2018)

            What is the “final frontier” on the Earth's surface? Many people would say Alaska, the 49th state, which was added to the United States fifty years ago. Once one has traveled to that remote land, it is impossible to forget the magnificence of the terrain and beasts. Floating by ship in Glacier Bay, surrounded by ...

The Man in Room 306 at the Luna Stage, West Orange, NJ

            The Luna Stage, a Jersey theater gem, chose to revive its 1995 world premiere drama, The Man in Room 306, to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the slaying of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  Starring Jamil A.C. Mangan as Dr. King, this 90 minute production portrays Dr. King in the last hours of his life as he struggles to write a speech for the Poor ...

Into the Water by Paula Hawkins

Into the Water by Paula Hawkins (Riverhead Books, 2017)


I wanted to like Into the Water by Paula Hawkins because I had enjoyed her previous novel, The Girl on the Train, which was a suspenseful thriller. However, when I finished reading the first part of the Into the Water, I realized that I had not absorbed anything that was happening in the story. I blamed myself for not paying ...