RANDOLPH, NJ- The April 9 BOE meeting covered a diverse set of topics, including a Communications Committee update, followed by the annual ethics review by Board Attorney Marc Zitomer and a school security presentation from Security Supervisor Harry Ruiz.
Superintendent Jennifer Fano and members of the Board also spoke about an exceptionally positive meeting earlier in the day with Bosch Corporation representatives, Randolph Education Foundation (REF) members, BOE members, administrators and teachers regarding the $34,000 sustainability grant Bosch awarded the district. REF provided an additional $54,000 for the this innovative project, which focuses on hydroponics, aquaponics and other traditional and non-traditional growing methods, and is presently thriving at all district schools, including the pre-school and Transition House.
Communications Committee Continues Work on Strategy
Board Vice President and Communications Committee Chair Joseph Faranetta started his presentation by saying, "We need to do a better job of communication throughout the district, whether it's the Board to the administration, the administration to the staff, the Board to the public. Whatever it is, we haven't been doing what our stakeholders expect us to do. So it's been clear to us that we have to do better."
According to Faranetta, the district needs to have a more comprehensive approach to communications. External communications should extend beyond the families of current Randolph students to include all residents, potential residents, neighboring towns, and others, and not be reliant on the local media only to carry the message. Internal communications also need to improve, with more extensive exchanges among teachers, administrators and others within the district.
He explained that the committee's goal this year has been to develop an overall communications strategy, which he plans to present to the Board at the end of this month.
"I'm happy to say that as a result of the work we've been doing – and it's no secret that we've been working with a professional to help us with this – and we're going to come in with the project completed in terms of the strategy probably in mid-May. We expect to close out the project about a month early, and we'll probably come in about half budget – half of the PO – somewhere in the neighborhood of 50%, maybe two-thirds of the possible spend."
Faranetta's April 9th communications preview focused on why and how the strategy was developed, rather than the strategy itself, after some public accusations of alleged excessive spending by the BOE on external public relations and communications support.
Other Key Presentations: Board Ethics Review and Biannual School Security Update
Board attorney Marc Zitomer took the floor next, fulfilling an annual requirement of the NJ School Ethics Act to discuss the Act at a public meeting. The School Ethics Act applies to BOE members, NJ School Boards Association members, and school administrators, and contains a Code of Ethics specifically for the BOE. Among the key points regarding members' responsibilities and restrictions, Zitomer emphasized, "Board members not only have to avoid actual conflicts of interest, but they have to avoid the appearance of impropriety as well."
Harry Ruiz, Security Supervisor, provided the final presentation of the evening. He spoke at length not only about changes to security processes and procedures, but also about the valuable relationships the security team members have developed with all members of the school community, particularly the students.
Ruiz explained that he and his team strive to meet with administrators, teachers, support staff, paraprofessionals, as well as Transportation Director John Aymil, the Randolph Police Department, Randolph Recreation Department and others to ensure effective coordination and communication throughout the district.