West Orange BOE Approves Board Policies for Evaluations; Repair Issues at Gregory and Mt. Pleasant Elementary Schools Discussed

St. Cloud Principal Eric Price, with Art Teacher Ms. Del'Italia, stand with fifth and first students who were recognized for their artistic creations based on the Classic Children’s book, Where the Wild Things Are, by Maurice Sendak. Principal Eric Price and Art Teacher Ms. Del’Italia explained the process of design, art history, and media that were incorporated into the artwork. Credits: Cynthia Cumming
A group of parents from Mt. Pleasant Elementary School provided photos of ice patches 4 inches thick by a drainage pipe at Ellison Avenue and Carlson Road. “ Credits: Cynthia Cumming
Artwork. Credits: Cynthia Cumming
The BOE reviews the agenda. Credits: Cynthia Cumming

WEST ORANGE, NJ - The West Orange Board of Education unanimously approved policies 2130.00 and 4116.00 regarding implementation of principal and teaching staff evaluations required by the state of New Jersey. Required training for all teachers on the Marzano Model, the district’s selection for an evaluation model, was completed in August 2013.

“We did not have a lot of time to prepare for the principal evaluations,” noted Interim Superintendent James O’Neill.“In some cases, it’s not unusual to receive 80 pages of follow-up from the state, and compliance was required within a one year period.”

“However,” he continued regarding compliance and implementation, “We are probably doing better than 80% of other districts in the state.”

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Board member Laura Lab said, “The new state requirements have had a monumental effect on the teachers and district. We have approximately 1,000 staff members, and the process must be broken down into different criterias, like tenured and non-tenured.”

The approved policies will be posted to the website.

St. Cloud first and fifth grade students were recognized for their artistic creations based on the classic children’s book, Where the Wild Things Are, by Maurice Sendak. Principal Eric Price and Art Teacher Ms. Del’Italia explained the process of design, art history, and media that were incorporated into the artwork. 

During public comment, parents and the community expressed concerns about repair issues at Gregory and Mt. Pleasant Elementary Schools.

Architect Jerome Eben expressed concern over the water leak in Gregory’s library. “The roof was patched and the patches are no longer working,” said Interim Superintendent O’Neill. “It will cost about $60,000 to replace the section of roof over the library, but we have to find the money to do it.”

A group of parents from Mt. Pleasant Elementary School provided photos of ice patches 4 inches thick by a drainage pipe at Ellison Avenue and Carlson Road. “This is a huge problem,” said Rosemary Martos. “It affects all our walkers, except for the Kindergarteners.”

“This has been a problem since I first came to Mt. Pleasant,” said PTA President Sherley Jean-Baptiste. “Mr. Schiavo [Mt. Pleasant Principal] has broken up the ice himself over the years, but he has not been well this winter.”

Danielle Bolen, another Mt. Pleasant parent said, “This is a very dangerous situation, and we are pleading with you to do something.”

O’Neill explained that it was difficult to fix the problem, especially in this weather. “A new landscaping and drainage system will cost tens of thousands of dollars to fix. We’ve salted the area several times at night, hoping it would melt in the sun during the day. It becomes an issue of what’s more important; a seasonal issue or a year-round issue like the Gregory roof.”

Board members Michelle Casalino and Board President Sandra Mordecai both said, “We need to divert manpower to address the ice now and have it removed."

"This will at least address the problem on the short term,” Casalino noted.

Residents were invited to attend the district’s Diversity meeting on Feb. 5 at at the Board of Education building, which is located at 179 Eagle Rock Ave., in Room 203, at 7 p.m. 

The Board will be holding several closed meetings over the next week regarding residency hearings and an update on the search for a new permanent superintendent.

The next public BOE meeting is scheduled for Feb. 10 at 8 p.m.

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