Letters to the Editor

Statement to the BOE: Evaluate the Superintendent's Contract and Proposed Bonus

3d1adfd24c5365b115d5_5b0969680de0a2b560de_letter_to_the_editor.jpg
3d1adfd24c5365b115d5_5b0969680de0a2b560de_letter_to_the_editor.jpg

The following are Elissa Malespina's remarks during the public comment of the South Orange Maplewood Board of Education meeting on June 13, reprinted with permission.

Hello,

Thank you for the opportunity to speak. Public comment on district concerns is critical for your understanding of community concerns. Please keep in mind the well-being of each and every student is this district, as you hear my comments, and as you engage in the evaluation tonight.

Sign Up for E-News

While I have numerous concerns, I have come to you tonight to talk to you specifically about the evaluation of the superintendent. Dr. Ramos’s contract states that if he meets all of his metrics (which I will discuss in more detail later) he will receive a $26,607.25 bonus. That is a huge amount of money for a district that is cutting librarians, educators, guidance counselors and other positions and continually claims poverty. We are at a fiscal cliff, in fact, according to Dr. Ramos.  

When negotiating Dr. Ramos’s contract, and the contracts of all bonus eligible employees for next year, I hope you will take a long look at reducing or eliminating the bonuses all together. It is irresponsible to continue providing bonuses when the district continues to project budget deficits.

Also, I ask you, Dr. Ramos, to consider donating whatever bonus you do get back to the school district -- as Dr. Osborne did a few years ago, when we were facing similar circumstances. I think it would do a lot to help foster goodwill with the staff and community.

While looking through the merit bonus metrics, I have a few questions as to how to actually evaluate whether some of these criteria have been met. The contract clearly states that “we will obtain approval from the Office of Civil Rights for proposals to address issues outlined in the Resolution Agreement." We have yet to receive that approval. In fact, Dr. Ramos has chosen to not implement any of the suggestions outlined by Sage Consulting in their initial report, claiming that he has “leapfrogged” past some of those items detailed in the resolution.  

The Access and Equity Policy does not address the discipline or special education issues identified in the complaint. Under Dr. Ramos’ guidance, we have actually sat through yet another year of inactivity and inaction. We have done nothing to address the many issues outlined by the Office of Civil Rights. I ask you, as responsible Board of Education (BOE) members, to not give him his full merit bonus for this criteria.

It also states in his Merit Criteria that Dr. Ramos will increase the percentage of observations for non-tenured and tenured certified staff. While I do not believe this should even be in as a bonus item since, as stated in Achieve NJ, this is something the district and the Superintendent needs to be doing by law anyway, I do question allowing payment for this when you as a BOE allowed Dr. Ramos to appeal to the state and have the number of observations reduced from 3 to 2. Because you decreased the number of observations,  his percentage is bound to increase, even if he did nothing to make this happen.

Dr. Ramos’ contract also states that “we will ensure the district's strategic communication plan is updated and implemented in the 2015-2016 school year.” The plan was completed on May 6th of this year, although Communication regarding this meeting, the recent bias incidents and many other recent communication problems point to issues with its implementation. We have a long way to go in terms of the implementation of this policy. We’ve spent money on “Let’s Talk” which I am still waiting over a week for a reply from Ms. Turner about communication issues. Have we improved communications?  Is the community satisfied?  When was the last time Dr. Ramos and Ms. Turner reported the average Let’s Talk response times, ratings, and written feedback to the board at a public board meeting?  Are teachers, administrators, and board members replying to emails from the public?

Another merit criteria states that the district will “establish a comprehensive vision for school district testing and how each test relates to an important learning or strategic objective. Analyze the assessment system used to determine the amount of testing necessary to serve diagnostic, instructional and accountability purposes. Except for one document posted in March that lists all the tests students take in the district (I challenge whether you can find this easily on the website), to the best of my knowledge, there has not been any other discussion about the amounts of testing or the quality of them that has been shared with the BOE, our educators or the community.

This year has just been another of the same, in a string of turbulent years in our district with staff worried about retaliation, student voices being suppressed and open and transparent communication not occurring. The baseball investigation is still not fully addressed after more than two years and our district received a failing rating from the state on QSAC, and on Least Restrictive Environments. Three of our schools are still not off the focus schools list, partially because your staff did not get data to the state in a timely manner. I urge you to review the RAC reports, if you haven’t done so already.  

I urge each member of the Board of Education to consider and address all of these issues during the Superintendent's Evaluation.

The opinions expressed herein are the writer's alone, and do not reflect the opinions of TAPinto.net or anyone who works for TAPinto.net. TAPinto.net is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by the writer. Click here to submit a Letter to the Editor.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

SOMA

A Tale of Two Very Different Town Administrator Searches

Both Maplewood and South Orange are looking for new town administrators at the same time, a rare occurrence.

And their approaches couldn’t be any more different.

Maplewood, whose long-time administrator Joseph Manning is retiring May 31, launched its search last month the old-fashioned way: hiring a recruiting firm and letting them do the heavy lifting (or more appropriately the ...

AtlantiCast

AtlantiCast: Episode 12

On this week’s episode of AtlantiCast, decade of excellence makes headlines, as Atlantic Health’s place on Fortune Magazine’s 100 Best Companies to Work For List leads off the newest episode of AtlantiCast. Also on this week’s show, check out the newest “hybrid” operating room at Morristown Medical Center and find out how Atlantic Health is helping local ...

AtlantiCast Medical Minute: Atlantic Orthopedic Institute’s Scoliosis and Spinal Deformity Center

On this episode of the AtlantiCast Medical Minute, we’ll take you inside the Atlantic Orthopedic Institute’s Scoliosis and Spinal Deformity Center, with the center’s director, Jason Lowenstein, MD.

Video Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1M7euCp86-c

AtlantiCast Episode 011

Breaking Atlantic Health System news on this week’s AtlantiCast! Plus, find out why Morristown Medical Center is one of the best hospitals in the nation when it comes to recovering from joint surgery, see the newest center for fighting brain cancer and an Atlantic Health System red-carpet premiere!

 

Maplewood Police Blotter - Two Teens Arrested for Theft from Auto

February 20, 2018

February 12 - Theft; A resident from Burroughs Way reported that sometime over the past day, a snow blower was stolen from an open garage.

February 17- Theft from Auto; At approximately 5:15 p.m., two males were observed going through vehicles on Hillcrest Rd.  Officers responded to the area and were able to locate two males fitting the description. The males, 18 year ...

South Orange Police Blotter - Two Arrested for Robbery in South Orange

Adult Arrest - Robbery - Shawn Ray Newsome, a 20 year old Newark resident and a 17 year old juvenile were arrested on Saturday, Feb. 3, at approximately 10:45 p.m. for robbery. Two male victims reported that as they were walking on South Orange Ave near the Newark border, they were approached by three actors (described as black males wearing dark clothing and black masks) who ...

Blood Drives in SOMA: Maplewood on Feb. 22 and South Orange on Feb. 26

February 19, 2018

SOUTH ORANGE AND MAPLEWOOD, NJ - Due to winter storms and flu disrupting blood donations, the Red Cross is urging donors to donate and help maintain blood supply, according to a press release from the organization.

In January, severe winter weather forced about 600 blood drives to cancel, resulting in more than 17,500 uncollected blood and platelet donations. And, ...

Maplewood Seniors Enjoy a Visit from Alfalfa the Alpaca on Valentine's Day

MAPLEWOOD, NJ - If you were at the Maplewood Senior Center on Wednesday - which happened to be Valentine's Day - you would have seen the somewhat unusual sight of an alpaca. Alfalfa the Alpaca to be precise.

 

The visit from Alfalfa was the first in the "creature comfort" series from the Maplewood Recreation Department.

 

Maplewood Recreation Director Melissa ...

Upcoming Events

Wed, February 21, 12:00 PM

Temple Sharey Tefilo-Israel, South Orange

The Purposes and Rhythms of Jewish Living

Education Religions And Spirituality

Carousel_image_982bc8344531b1a37c85_par_440

Wed, February 21, 7:00 PM

Par 440 Restaurant & Lounge, Short Hills

The Extra Rich In Class Dinner Show with E.R.I.C.

Arts & Entertainment Food & Drink

Fri, February 23, 12:00 PM

St. Andrew & Holy Communion Parish Hall, South Orange

Lenten Friday Fish Fry Dinners

Food & Drink

Carousel_image_982bc8344531b1a37c85_par_440

Fri, February 23, 7:00 PM

Par 440 Restaurant & Lounge, Short Hills

The Extra Rich In Class Dinner Show with E.R.I.C.

Arts & Entertainment Food & Drink

Illegal South Ward Rooming House Closed for Life-Threatening Conditions, 12 Relocated

February 18, 2018

Newark, NJ—An illegal rooming house in Newark's South Ward has been shuttered and 12 people relocated after Newark fire inspectors discovered life-threatening conditions inside the property on Friday.

Newark Fire Inspectors responded after citizen complaints to a one-family house at 46-48 Van Ness Place and found “deplorable conditions” inside the ...

PARCC Debate in Newark Continues Amid Calls from Murphy for its Dismantling

NEWARK, NJ - Ever since New Jersey began using the PARCC exam in the 2014-15 school year, the state teacher's union and other groups have criticized the the standardized test and called for the state to stop using it to assess student performance.

During the campaign for governor last year, Phil Murphy, who was endorsed by the New Jersey Education Association, promised to ditch ...

Chatham Superintendent: Inappropriate Remarks on Social Media by Chatham Student About School Shooting Investigated; No Active Threat

February 20, 2018

CHATHAM, NJ - Chatham Superintendent of Schools Michael LaSusa sent out an email Monday night explaining that a Chatham Middle School student made "inappropriate posts to social media" and "referenced a school shooting."

Chatham Police investigated the situation and had determined there was "no active threat to the school." In an act of ...

Following Florida Massacre, East Brunswick Schools Add Armed Officers to Security

EAST BRUNSWICK, NJ - At a meeting Thursday night, the East Brunswick board of Education unanimously approved a resolution to engage the East Brunswick Police department to place armed police officers at each school building in the district throughout the entire school day.  In a report released by superintendent Victor Valeski, township officials asserted that the move would ...

Atlantic Health System Earns Spot for 10th Year on Fortune’s ‘100 Best Companies to Work For’ List

February 18, 2018

Atlantic Health System, a leading provider of health care in New Jersey, today celebrated a decade of excellence after it was recognized among Fortune’s “100 Best Companies to Work For,” ranking number 74 in its 10th consecutive year on the prestigious annual list.

It is the only health care delivery system from New Jersey, and the top-ranked New Jersey based company on the ...

Man Charged with Crashing Truck into East Orange Planned Parenthood Clinic

Acting Essex County Prosecutor Robert D. Laurino and East Orange Public Safety Director Sheliah Coley announced on Friday that Marckles Alcius, 31, with a last known address in Lowell, Massachusetts, has been charged with carrying out a truck attack on the Planned Parenthood East Orange Health Clinic on February 14, 2018, using a stolen bakery delivery truck.

Alcius has been charged with ...

Paper Mill Playhouse Announces the World Premiere of 'Unmasked'

Paper Mill Playhouse (Mark S. Hoebee-Producing Artistic Director, Todd Schmidt-Managing Director), recipient of the 2016 Regional Theatre Tony Award, announced today the world premiere of UNMASKED, which will feature some of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s most iconic work and the stories behind its creation, along with new music and memories from his extraordinary life and career, will open its ...