West Orange Board of Education Holds Meeting at Redwood Elementary School

Barbara Kivlon, Principal of Redwood Elementary School, welcomes the crowd. Credits: Cynthia Cumming
(L-R) Steve Christiano, Donna Rando, Sandra Mordecai, Paul Petigrow, Laura Lab, Megan Brill, Michelle Casalino, Jim O'Neill, Mark Kenney. Credits: Cynthia Cumming
The Redwood Concert Band Performs. Credits: Cynthia Cumming
National Merit Participants  (L-R) Rachel Cooper, Principal Hayden Moore, Raashmi Patalpati, Laura Lab, Ethan Blake, Sai Mandalapu, Jim O'Neill, Tiffany Smith. (Not pictured: Anjali Sivendra, Malanie Babi, Yanique Bell). Credits: Cynthia Cumming
(L-R) Hayden Moore, Isabel Kaspriskie (Symphonic Band), Laura Lab, Ethan Blake (Symphonic Band), Jim O'Neill, Sruti Kanthan (Orchestra), Nathaniel Hawkins (Symphonic Band).  Not Pictured: Ventura Simmons, Kwaku Jyamfi, Belle Zhang, Amanda Hill. Credits: Cynthia Cumming

WEST ORANGE, NJ - Tonight's West Orange BOE Meeting was held at Redwood Elementary School.  After a performance by the Redwood Concert Band, several students from West Orange High School were recognized as Merit Scholars as were musicians that received recognition in the North Jersey Regional Music Awards.  

Interim Superintendent O'Neill discussed the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy and how important it was to be able to offer the schools as shelters. He also noted that the district would look into the purchase of a generator to keep the district servers online in the event of another power outage, as a means to help maintain communication with parents. A letter to parents, discussing this, and more has been posted on the district website and can be read at:

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 Of particular importance was the discussion of the loss of days (6) during the storm.  The district allows for three snow days.  The district made up two more by having school after the cancellation of the Teacher's Conference, leaving one day.  He offered, however, a caveat, because the winter is still ahead of us.

The Board members bandied about the hiring of Robert Csigi, Jr., who was hired as a dispatcher with special computer training in the Versa Trans system.  Sandra Mordecai questioned the possibility of nepotism (Robert Csigi, Sr. is Director of Buildings and Grounds) but other board members disagreed and board attorney Steve Christiano said that the nepotism law only applied to board members and the Superintendent.  

The other contested agenda item was the Local 68 Bargaining Association (Custodial staff) negotiated contractual settlement.  Ms. Mordecai opposed because she felt money could have been saved by employing a flex employee schedule  system, although other board members, as well as Mark Kenney, Board Secretary, emphasized that not utilizing a flex employee schedule saved money, and that it was not ultimately practical for district needs. Another issue concerned overtime, with Kenney explaining that no more than 10% of the total buildings and grounds budget can be spent on custodial overtime.  It is currently at about 100K, down from 300K several years ago.  All other agenda items passed without incident. 

Board reports included information about "Tomorrow's Teachers," a new initiatve with Rider University with students that aspire to be teachers, with the possibility of college accreditation; a meeting of the Curriculum Council discussed new courses at the high school: Art History "Art and the Human Experience," Business Organization and Management, Concepts of Entrepreneurship, and Early Childhood and Family Studies, Level 3.

After public comments, which mainly centered on busing issues, school trip costs/budget, a student's allergy issues, and mixed comments to the board, the meeting adjourned at 10:20 pm and the board went into closed session.

The next meeting is scheduled for 12/3 at Edison Middle School.


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