WEST ORANGE, NJ — In thanking parents, teachers and community members for speaking out at recent West Orange Board of Education (WOBOE), the board acknowledged that it has heard the community’s need for the following:
- Improved communications, empathy and tonality
- Accountability and follow-up on improving Special Services
- Approaches, as requested by parents and teachers, to “heal” the school community.
- Addressing teachers’ concerns about support, respect and a desire to be heard on issues such as: The need for a new elementary-school reading program; Securing greater input from the teachers on the front lines, and more-advanced planning when implementing new programs or initiatives; Recognition of time allocation and priorities that impact instruction time and lesson planning; and Avoiding over-testing that stresses teachers, students and parents
“Leaders and members of WOSEPAC, WOCAS, Essex Rising and the COPTA have emailed us or called to offer support, and to ask about our plan for the process of healing, and our approach to school-community partnership, in order to advance student achievement,” the WOBOE wrote in a statement earlier this week.
In order to begin the process of “healing and strengthening” the WOBOE’s partnership with the community, the board is implementing the following initiatives:
- Expansion of the PR Committee to become a PR/Community Relations Committee, chaired by WOBOE Vice President Mark Robertson and board member Ken Alper. Parent/community organizations are invited to the table to work with the board on solutions
- Regular Special Services Progress Reports at board meetings and WOSEPAC meetings
- Follow-through on previously proposed board initiatives to ensure parent, teacher and community input, including but not limited to:
- Town Hall Meetings with breakout groups for various high-interest topics, and more public forums and listening sessions where all voices can be heard and ideas can be put into action
- Climate Surveys for Parents and Teachers with safeguards for confidentiality and curtailing duplication
- Adding a Student Representative to the Board of Education
- New Board Committees, including a Safety & Security Committee (and possibly Finance and Curriculum)
- Diversity Training by a certified company and a Diversity Recruitment Job Fair (2019).
The board thanked all involved for their patience and partnership throughout this process.