WEST ORANGE, NJ – During last week’s West Orange Board of Education (WOBOE) meeting, the board voted unanimously to approve the district and board goals for the 2019-20 school year.

Although only district goals need to be updated annually and board goals are optional, both were developed over the summer with the collective end goal of increasing student achievement.

“As far as district goals, the process of setting our district goals really started when I came into [the] district […] listening to various stakeholders about perceptions and needs,” said Superintendent of Schools Dr. J. Scott Cascone.

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He added that after conducting a leadership team meeting, five district goals were agreed upon that “connect to communication, perception, student achievement and access, social emotional wellbeing and learning for students and […] the generation of additional revenue.”

Cascone said the district goals will also be “smart goals in that [the district] will utilize surveys and things of that nature” to determine the extent to which the district achieves those goals.

The 2019-2020 district goals are as follows:

  1. Utilizing a satisfaction survey, the district will evaluate stakeholders’ perspectives of its communications practices, develop a set of actions and interventions to positively impact these perceptions and measure change in perception at the end of the year.
  2. Utilizing a satisfaction survey, the district will evaluate stakeholders’ perception of the district relative to key aspects of operations including but not limited to, educational programs and equity of access, develop a set of actions and interventions to positively impact that perception and measure change in perception at the end of each year.
  3. The district will analyze forms of data to evaluate the extent to which disparities and/or gaps in access to programs and services, as well as achievement exist between various student subgroups. Develop administrator and teacher goals, which are informed by this data.
  4. The district will address student and staff health, mindfulness, and wellness by assessing school culture and climate, develop a set of actions and interventions to positively impact that perception including making applicable modifications and adjustments in curriculum and programming, and measure change in perception at the end of each year.
  5. To utilize the allotted budget for grant writing services for the prospecting, writing, and ostensibly the awarding of grants as an additional revenue stream.

Similarly, WOBOE President Ken Alper explained that the board worked on its goals alongside Charlene Peterson, a New Jersey School Board Association (NJSBA) Field Services Representative and came up with four goals.

“Three of them concern our work with policies, our work with data, the quality and the quantity that we receive and work with, a PR plan and a fourth one […] on just professional development for the board as an ongoing process,” said Alper.

Alper also commented that since the board recently came out of a board evaluation process, having goals is “just one of those things that you really look for in a school board—that you’re focused and [can] work together on common goals.”

This year’s board goals are as follows:

  1. To prioritize policies and advance the conversation of the Policy Manual to Strauss Esmay with accompanying regulations and to devise new policies as needed.
  2. Work with administration to increase the quality and quantity of data as well as the frequency to which the board has access to data in order to inform decisions.
  3. Develop a comprehensive public relations plan and work with the administration to promote the positive stories of the district.
  4. To continue to participate in both individual and group professional development through attendance, both at board workshops and with our NJSBA field representative and offsite NJSVA trainings and to work to maintain NJSBA Board Certification.

Although the fourth goal was read aloud by Alper, WOBOE Vice President Sandra Mordecai thanked Alper for making Board Certification a priority for the board. She also congratulated her fellow board members for achieving the certification, which the board received at the Sept. 18 meeting of the Essex County School Board Association.

This marks the board’s third time being certified, with the two previous certifications received in 2005 and 2016.

“Congratulations to my colleagues for working hard and attending workshops together and individually and making sure we do the work that’s necessary to maintain and increase our knowledge,” said Mordecai. “This will help us make sure that we are more informed when we make a decision.”

Alper explained that achieving Board Certification requires 16 hours of training over the course of four years that must be maintained over time. Alper also explained that if the board chooses to receive an additional 10 hours of training, it will qualify for Master Board Certification.

“There’s significant research out there that shows that boards that work together are effective and more effective boards have a positive effect on student achievement,” said Alper.

During the meeting, the board also took the time to congratulate Mt. Pleasant Elementary School Nurse Jeanine Aldrich on her upcoming retirement after being in the district for 22 years.

To learn more about the WOBOE’s Board Certification click HERE.

The next WOBOE meeting will be held on Oct. 7 at West Orange High School.