WEST ORANGE, NJ - PARCC updates, kindergarten scheduling changes, and the 2015-2016 District Calendar were the primary focus of Monday’s Board of Education meeting. In addition, six Redwood Elementary School students were in attendance to perform a live instrumentation called, “King’s Trumpets.”

Kindergarten

Superintendent Jeffrey Rutzky started things off by proposing that the three half days that kick off the kindergarten school year be changed to full days.

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“Kindergarten has changed over the years in what it used to be, from a very social makeup to where it’s now very social and academy based,” Rutzky said. 

PARCC

Updates were then given on PARCC exams and what has been discovered from initial testing. At the end of April, the EOA (End of Year Assessment) will begin for PARCC. So far, Rutzky said that kids have had no problems with using the technology, and that teachers have become far more confident with PARCC. However, while most kids from the elementary and middle school have participated in the exams, he said that the high school students are a different story. 

Rutzky said that the state is asking for input on PARCC. “I’m excited to report our findings to them—both the good and the bad,” Rutzky said. “Hopefully they’re listening and will make adjustments as to what they need to do for next year.”

He said he was thankful for staff and coordinators who helped with the PARCC examinations. “They’ve been amazing,” he said. “It’s been consuming their time, but we have to work through it this year.”

Board member Mark Robertson agreed. “The first time out the box is really difficult, and the state has made it more difficult by not properly communicating with us,” he said. He pointed out how all involved with PARCC have gone above and beyond, and inquired over surveys perhaps given to parents about the exams. Rutzky said he felt that teachers and students were the most ideal people to get feedback from, since they are a direct part of the examination process. 

District Calendar

Next on Rutzky’s agenda was a discussion on the District Calendar. Rutzky said that they must indicate days that would be taken back if the district were to run into more inclement weather days than what it is already built into the calendar. Four snow days are built into the calendar, and all of them were used this year. Rutzky proposed for next year that, if the four snow days are used up, February 12 would be taken back to preserve April break. Then, if needed, April 11, 12, and so forth would be used. These potential makeup days in case of bad weather were approved of by the board.

Election Day

November 3 is Election Day, and Rutzky said that he and the board need to decide what to do regarding voting location and scheduling. “We’re working to get voting out of school for safety in general,” Rutzky said, also adding that the parking situation last year at Gregory School made the voting process very tedious. He added that costs were also high, with a police officer being hired to ensure safety during the voting. 

When talking about what the schedule for the school day should be, the board was divided. Some, like Mark Robertson, felt that school should be closed for the maximum safety of the students. Others, like Sandra Mordecai, felt it should at least be opened for half a day, saying that “it’s better to have half a day of school than no school at all.” The board decided that they would like more information on potential locations, as well as data on what time of the day people are most likely to vote, before making a decision. Rutzky said he would look into it.

Save the Date

In other news, Rutzky said that there would be a final budget adoption meeting on April 29 at 8:00 p.m. in the Liberty Middle School auditorium.

On March 30, there will be an ASAP Mandatory Athletic Meeting. All students and parents who did not attend the winter meeting must attend this to be qualified to participate in athletics. It will take place a 7:00 p.m. in the high school auditorium.

On Thursday, there will be a kindergarten school presentation at Washington Elementary School at 7:00 p.m. that will go over child care provisions and give answers to questions parents may have. All parents are welcom to attend. 

The next BOE meeting is scheduled to take place on April 20 at 8:00 p.m. in the high school library. Residents are welcome to attend.