West Orange Interim Superintendent Discusses NJSDOE Reports; Kindergarten Registration for 2013-2014 Underway

Credits: Cynthia Cumming

WEST ORANGE, NJ - Interim Superintendent James O'Neill discussed the release of the state's school reports and kindergarten registration, and the the board advised residents that the ethics charged filed against Laura Lab and Megan Brill were dropped at Monday night's Board of Education meeting.

O'Neill advised the attendees of several things: Kindergarten registration is underway at the Elementary Schools and expected to remain in line with the approximate 500 students per year that are enrolled, still above the state average.  

He also advised the community that as of July, 2013 all Board of Education meetings will be televised.

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O'Neill discussed the release of the state school reports and expressed some concerns, as many other school districts in New Jersey have, about incorrect data reporting, and issues with the new "'peer group comparisons." He cited how Edison Middle School is only one of six central sixth grades in the state, yet they were compared to 22 other schools that don't have sixth grades. He said that WOHS was listed as having 192 students in AP Chemistry, but that the 192 represented HS students in all AP sciences, including Physics and Environmental Science.

O'Neill continued by saying that the reports were based on the "antiquated" tests and not current ones, but remained hopeful that the New Jersey State Department of Education might adjust some of the information.  He would not guarantee that would happen, however, given the number of districts in the state that were contacting the DOE regarding errors. He also noted that the Garden State Coalition was concerned about the errors in reporting, and acknowledged it would take time to hone the process and review the reports.

The  Board and the Interim agreed that SAT scores at the high school needed to improve.  However, the district's QSAC (Quality through a Single Accountability Continuum) scores had improved from 77 percent to 88 percent. "QSAC  provides clear standards to all school districts for the five major categories, Instruction and programs, Personnel, Fiscal Management, Operations Management, and Governance. The QSAC therefore accelerates the work that has begun to support progress in districts by allowing them to continue their work without the unnecessary intrusions of the Department of Education. In instances of low performing districts, the QSAC provides expanded authority for the Commissioner to intervene quickly when significant problems occur.  Because future intervention in districts with significant problems will be targeted exclusively in the areas of need, it will be unlikely that full state control will be needed again."

Board member Laura Lab read a statement from Nick Galante, who had filed ethics charges against her and Megan Brill in 2012, dropping the charges, as well as a statement from her and Brill (who was not present at the meeting). The Alternative Press will publish the statements in full in a separate article. Galante retired after 43 years in the West Orange School District on April 1.

James Adams, parent of a track and field athlete, expressed dismay over the condition of a portion of the field. The board, along with Mark Kenney, advised that after removal of the trailers, a drainage problem needed to be addressed.

More than $200,000 worth of fill was donated to the school to level the ground, but hydroseeding would need to be done again in the fall (it has been done for the spring). These issues may prohibit the high school from being able to host meets and the parent's club to raise funds for the team. The team is currently training at Seton Hall Prep. The board said they would speak to the athletic director in an attempt to come up with another source of funding for the club.

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