WEST ORANGE, NJ - The Board of Education held a brief meeting yesterday evening at West Orange High School to go over the approvals of teacher transfers and to report on recent events.

The Gregory Elementary School Jazz Band opened the meeting with a musical performance highlighting their talents. The band is led by music teacher and composer Ryan Krewer. 

27 teachers in the West Orange school system were approved for transfer. Annually, staff is given the opportunity to teach at a different school, grade level, or to teach a different subject.  Their salaries are maintained regardless of where there are being transferred, but they cannot teach above their current level.  For example, Interim Superintendent James O’Neill pointed out that “elementary teachers can’t transfer to the high school or middle school.”

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Before the public was allowed to make comment on any of the transfers, O’Neill said that, while they would hear them out, they cannot comment on anything specific. “The administration and board have access to confidential information that they are not at liberty to share,” he said. However, no comments were made on any of the teacher’s transfers.

During Second Reading, the Board of Education expanded their Employee Conflict of Interest policy to require the Business Administrator provide to the CSA and the BOE members all submitted forms by June 1 annually.

The recommended approval of an energy services company was explained to the public.  It is an energy saving improvement program that the board has no financial obligation to until what can be saved by the district is presented.  The architect of the program has also waived any fees during this process.

James O’Neill expressed the district’s interest in implementing a Technology and Engineering Department that emphasizes progressive thinking.  He said that these programs will enhance the student’s chances of getting into a college or university.  “Colleges are looking for kids with those skills and expertise,” O’Neill said.

Board of Education member Laura Lab, a 27th  legislative district representative on behalf of the New Jersey School Board Association, attended a meeting that highlighted concerns about the geometry section of the PARCC exams. Those in attendance were not fans of the drop-down menu style of the examination, feeling it wasn't the best test of a student’s understanding of geometry or the teacher’s proficiency in teaching it. They also wanted to make sure the special education students would be taken care of for the exams: whether they needed larger text, to have the questions  read to them, or lowering the brightness of the background on the computer-based test.  “Giving them extra time isn’t enough,” Lab said.

The PARCC exam - short for the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers - is being implemented for students in kindergarten through the 12th grade in participating states. PARCC is in the process of revision and is scheduled to be administered during the 2014-2015 year.

It was reported by Board of Ed member Sandra Mordecai that the West Orange High School Wind Ensemble received an award from the Rutgers’s Mason Gross School of Arts.  “They were one of only six schools to receive the trophy,” she said.  Mordecai also was the recipient of an NAACP Award on the evening. 

One attendee displayed disappointment with the selection process of Jeffrey Rutzky as Superintendent and believed that the majority of West Orange residents wanted the two most requested candidates to present themselves to the public before a decision was made. The BOE responded that there was little doubt about who they wanted as Superintendent. They reviewed the superintendent hiring process, which included community surveys and meetings prior to making a decision.

To see the final agenda, including the list of employee transfers, go here.

The next Board of Education meeting is scheduled for May 27th at 8:00 pm.