Sunday, May 15, 2011

UNOFFICIALLY WINSLOW RECEIVED A LETTER

Thank you to Mrs. Yanez, Mrs. Tutt, and Mrs. Mitchell for the dedication to the children of the district and the education of our children. I hope to continue to see them at school functions.

One of the things that were accomplished during the tenure of these individuals was the putting the school policies on the Internet. I hope this continues as well as is updated to include the community policies which are not on the website yet.

Welcome and congratulations to the new board members; Ms Davis, Ms Dredden, Mrs. Masciocchi, and Mr. Gidwani.

I would like to make a recommendation on a change of policies.
1. Change Public Comments back to Public Participation. This would help in the communication with the Board of Education. Instead of waiting for a response after the Public speaking is over, an answer could be given. If there is an additional question that arises from the answer, the public would not have to await the next board meeting to ask it. Other changes to this policy would include the elimination of the five minute time limit and the elimination of the (newly implemented) elimination of the not allowing the “yielding time to another individual.” This would be more in line with “Robert’s Rules of Order” which is normal parliamentary procedures.

2. Change the policy on Addendums. I feel that there should not be any addendums. The use of addendums gives a hint of secrecy to the public and I have been informed several times by this administration that they are “transparent.” Examples of this hint of secrecy include last year’s (2010-2011) reorganization meeting. The addendum included extending the contracts to some one year employees (Dr. Carcamo and Dr. Garcia). These contract extensions had plenty of time to have been included in the regular board agenda and should have been there so that the public would have an idea and be able to share their input.

Another example of this was the March 2, 2011 Board of Education meeting where there was the (surprise) initial presentation of the budget (with yellow folders) and a vote on the addendum for the initial budget.

In the past, I was told addendums were a necessity for emergency items. Neither of these were emergency items that could not have been in the regular agenda and these are only two examples. There are many more that can be found in the addendums.

Previous to that, I was told that the addendums were because not all of the items were submitted in a timely fashion and rather than have them wait for the next meeting, they were included in an addendum and not the inability of the Board Secretary to get the work done in time. After the recent article (May 8, 2011 – Courier Post) reporting the fact that the Board Secretary had two other jobs, it helps me to understand why there may not have been enough time to complete the duties in our district.

In all cases, I was told that the Administration was transparent

Suggestions/recommendations for the new Board of Education
In 2006, I believe it was CAPA that recommended the elimination the Assistant Superintendent in our school district. This was done (when Dr. Swirsky was the previous Superintendent,), but later it was reestablished to include the duty of Curriculum Coordinator. (How many people are now responsible for curriculum coordinating in our district? – Language Arts, Mathematics, Special Education) I would like to recommend to either post for the position of Assistant Superintendent (or not have one!)

Although the Winslow Township School District may have the most intelligent and hard working Business Administrator/Board Secretary, I would like to recommend the posting for that position and interview additional candidates. Perhaps we could look for one who would be dedicated to our school district instead of spreading themselves too thin in other jobs.

I would like to recommend the posting for the position of Human Resource Director as our current director took on the position since retirement to help us out of our immediate needs. If she is still interested in the position and coming out of retirement, she can still express interest and apply for the position.

I would like to recommend the posting for the position of solicitor for the district. While Parker-McCay may be an excellent law firm, it was brought up at a board meeting (March 2, 2011) that the Winslow Township Board of Education was billed $200,000 for their services in 2010-2011 and this was “flat” from the previous year but the district was getting better advice than from the previous solicitor(s). The school year was not over yet and the billing was not yet complete. There are also many times that the solicitor will still be called upon due to litigation in arbitrations, negotiations, and other matters which had not yet come up. It seems to me that either the recommendations/advice of the current solicitor is either not as good as stated (or else there would not be so many litigations) or the good advice is not being followed by the school district’s administration and recommendation to the Board of Education.

I would like to find out whatever happened to the posting for a Grant Writer in this district? I recommended that to be done to save money two years ago (2009) and it was greeted as a good idea. I asked again two more times since then and both times I was told that it would be revisited but I have never seen the position posted. Is it still being considered?

I look forward to the new Board of Education addressing these issues and their wisdom in acting upon them.

Ellery Karl
Taxpayer and resident of Winslow Township since 1982

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