BOE Meeting Headlines
News and Views from the June 15, 2020 BOE Meeting
Presentations - Return to School Planning Overview and Residency Report
- Honoring our Retiring Staff
This evening I want send a special thanks to the over 414 collective years of service to all of the staff members who are retiring. Given the current Covid-19 quarantine, the staff at each of the buildings was not able to send their retirees their well-wishes on the building rendering (although we will when we are together again). As an alternative, we would like to share slides for each of the retirees along with their role in the district and their number of years of service. I want to send heartfelt congratulations to each of these staff members who have spent many years at their respective role and would never have imagined the end of their career happening under these circumstances. All the best to them in the next phase of their lives and we wish them well for a wonderful summer as they retire.
- Acknowledging the Rally Efforts of Students
As part of our district vision and all-encompassing goals for our students is that they engage in their academic studies to the best of their ability, try a variety of extra-curricular activities to follow or develop their interests and most of all, develop their passions and the strength of their convictions. For those of us who attended the rally last weekend, we saw an example of the courage, perseverance and conviction displayed at the HS and then at Taylor Park. The HS students and alumni who took it upon themselves to organize and participate did so with the fervor and message that hate has no place anywhere, and especially in Millburn. I want to applaud their efforts to gather the enormous level of support of the members of the Millburn community to come and support the messages of racial injustice, Black Lives Matter and that there is no place for hate. Specifically, I would like to acknowledge: Jade Wicker, Mellisa Okoko, Ashley Bush, Carly Dinowitz, Danielle Mangabat, Gabrielle Stoller, Jason Campbell, Katie Darvin, Purnima Palawat, Ranen Miao, Sabrina Liu, Savannah Prager and Zach Berkowitz.
As a school district and a community, we have a responsibility to have these conversations about the injustices and as necessary, the uncomfortable conversations about bias, prejudice and hate. As educators, we need to help facilitate an anti-racist world as an integral part of our curriculum, resources and how we educate and provide access to learning for all students. Our district goal has been intentional in this work to form a climate of belonging. We have coordinated professional development, programs in school, sponsored parent night speakers to open this dialogue and perspective with others who have a variety of backgrounds and perspectives. This cannot just be our focus for the time being, but must be part of a long-term plan that we take with us into the start of every academic year. Repeatedly, we must bring up these questions with ourselves and our colleagues, to create an education system that acknowledges the racism in our country and equips our students with the tools to eradicate it.
We have to keep working towards breaking down the walls of racial injustice now and in the future. I believe that this is everyone’s responsibility to get involved in helping through your voice and your actions.
- Building Diversity Among the Staff
The building of diversity among the staff is an important measure that we have taken on regarding the hiring and recruitment efforts in the district. Millburn has had meetings with school leadership regarding our focus on promoting minority candidates in searches and interviews for potential hire. While we will always hire the best candidate, no matter of color or race, we openly look for and seek candidates of different backgrounds as it supports building a diverse staff that is representative our student population. Our district is a member of CJPride - Central Jersey Program for the Recruitment of Diverse Educators which is an organization that seeks to promotes recruitment through job fairs targeted to minority candidates, is an advocate for promoting Colleges to enroll minority students into education programs, works directly with the DOE to remove barriers to certification and licensure. Millburn uses our CJ Pride banner on our HR website and job postings to advertise that we are encouraging diverse candidates to apply. We include a statement on our HR website to support attracting diverse educators: We believe that our staff and hiring practices support the district goal to increase the awareness of cultural diversity and global awareness for students as we serve our increasingly diverse student population. ESS Substitute services has provided more diverse substitute staffing for our schools as they pull from multiple communities. Having diverse subs in the building then lends itself to hiring them when full-time positions come available.
- HS Student Access and Opportunities
Our HS programs offer all students the opportunity to pursue their academic interests along with extra-curricular pursuits as well. Our district profile on the HS webpage under the Guidance tab describes the statistics that we have reported on the performance of our students. Included in the profile are the 1,309 AP tests that were given during the 2019 schoolyear, 96.4% of the graduating class attended a 4-year college or university, 2.6% attending a 2-year college for a total of 99% of our students going onto college post HS. Students have a robust set of course offerings with a program of studies designed for all levels or student readiness as well as 29 varsity sports. We had approximately 75% of the student body participate in a sport. In addition, students have the chance to participate in over 65 clubs and activities throughout the year base on their interests.
- HS Graduation
As a reminder, our virtual HS graduation ceremony will take on June 24th at 11:00 a.m. As we shared with all of our seniors and their families late last week, we will be having a set of mini ceremonies to provide our senior class with the opportunity to have a graduation experience. More details are to follow regarding the requirements maintaining the social distancing and hygiene protocols outlined by the CDC guidelines to ensure the health and safety of all participants at the ceremonies. We want to congratulate and wish all our graduating seniors all the best in their future endeavors!
- Extended School Year (ESY)
I want to share information with respect to the recent announcement from Governor Murphy regarding the potential opening of schools for Extended School Year (ESY) programs. At this time Millburn Public Schools in-district ESY program will continue to be implemented in the manner of a remote or virtual program. We have taken into consideration student and staff safety, the need for a supply of personal protective equipment (PPE’s), CDC and DOE guidance, and transportation safety needs. We believe it is important to take the time needed to properly implement and open a safe in-person school program. For Millburn students who attend specialized out of district private schools, we will work together with the Administration of the out-of-district placement schools to support them and our students.
- Student Publications
The latest edition of WORD has been published at the HS that contains an exemplary collection of student writing and artwork. Students in all levels submit their literary and artistic pieces for review and inclusion in the publication. We are extremely proud of the many talents of our students and their work in this year’s editions. Thanks to our faculty advisor for WORD, Dr. Minaz Jooma with a special thanks to Jessica Siegel and Kathleen Harte-Gilsenan and HS Staff for their efforts and support of this work.
Cellar Door offers a selection of academic writing, also complemented
by student artwork. Thanks to all of the writers, artists who contributed,and faculty advisor, Shirley Lazar.
And for Spanish readers, or those who want to brush up on your Spanish, La Palabra offers a variety of writing in that language. Thanks to teacher-advisor Anna Kleshkelskaya, and the writers and editors.
· Safe and Enjoyable Summer Break
I want to wish everyone a healthy and safe summer break. Even with limitations on travel and sights to attend, families need to take time to relax and enjoy all that is fun and exciting that the summer season has to offer!
Board President's Report
Board President Alex Zaltsman:
I’d like to address some of the questions we received from the Black Lives Matters Rally on Sunday, July 7th. I think organizers did a good job to raise awareness with regards to social injustice and I thank them for their efforts. I walked away learning more.
I’d like to take a few moments to explain who is the Board of Education. The Board of Ed in Millburn consists of 3 district employees- Dr. Burton, Ms. Scneiider, and Ms. Diskin and 9 elected residents, elected by the people that live in Millburn. The elected members are unpaid volunteer state officials and they do not operate the schools nor direct any school employees. They do not have any connection to the day-to-day operations of the schools. They are authorized by bylaws and policy to fulfill 4 functions: Policy oversight, Education planning, Provision of Financial Resources, and keeping the school officials informed of the wishes of the public.
The Board of Ed has only one direct employee that reports to them and that is Dr. Burton.
The elected members of the Board of Ed are your neighbors, the parents of your kids' friends from school, the people you see in Taylor Park or Gero Park spending time with their families. They ran for the Board to make a difference in our childrens' lives. This isn’t Big Government. It’s not Washington DC. It’s not Trenton. It’s people who live on streets next to yours. And they are all here to help and listen to the people that elected them.
First I’d like to address who can speak on behalf of the board. It is my understanding that the organizers asked the Board of Education to make a statement. Any board member can speak on behalf of themselves at any time. They don’t need my permission or anyone else’s permission. They simply say I’m speaking as myself and not on behalf of the board.
When it was our turn to speak, Oyin was asked to make a statement. My understanding was that they asked for a statement from the Board of Education so there was some confusion about whether the organizers asked for a statement from the board or from Oyin.
Any board member can speak about school topics provided that they explicitly say they are NOT speaking on behalf of the board, they are speaking on behalf of themselves. If they wanted Oyin to make a statement and not the Board of Education they should have communicated that to us.
Second, I'd like to address the topic of diversity hiring. I’ve asked Dr Burton - in her superintendent report - to speak about our connection to and work with Central Jersey Program for the Recruitment of Diverse Educators or CJ Pride. Again, as I said in my statement at the rally, this is not new. This has been ongoing for several years.
The board has an open door to the students via our student liaison committee. During this board year we made several changes to the committee so that we can hear from a wider range of students. We meet with students at the middle school and high school. Earlier this year our student liaison meeting was with the Black Student Union on February 20th. The minutes from that meeting are posted on our district website. We will be continuing the student liaison committee meetings later this year.
There is more work to be done to address issues of diversity in hiring or our work related to the elimination of bias of any type. I AM implying that work was started and it continues to be a focus, as I stated when I read one our district goals.
Assistant Superintendent's Report
Assistant Superintendent, Kate Diskin reported on:
Building an Inclusive Culture in Our Schools
The presentation is posted on our website, and can be found here
Virtual Music Concert
The Millburn Music Department is presenting a virtual Spring Concert, tomorrow night, June 16 at 7 pm. The link can be found on our website, and we also sent out a blast with the login information. The short concert will present selections from our Distance Learning performances by members of our Middle School and High School ensembles.
Live or virtual, our student concerts are not to be missed! Tune in tomorrow at 7.
Virtual Art Shows
This is usually the time of year for the students in AP Art to exhibit their work. Well, another tradition has gone virtual!
AP Art Show: It is quite a treat not only to see the artwork but to hear the artists explain their motivation. It is really a fantastic presentation!
Millburn Middle School has also put their art show online, so be sure to “stop in and take a tour.”
Links can be found on or website under News.
Business Administrator's Report
- A number of the resolution on today’s agenda, as in the past few meetings, relate to renewals for next year’s contracts as well as annual resolutions we have to close out the year, such as a number of statements of assurance that reporting was done during the year and the transfer of interest earned on capital project funds to the debt service fund.
- Also included are resolutions that we do each year that allow for the transfer of current year surplus to the Capital and Maintenance and Emergency Reserve Funds. The resolutions must be approved in June as it relates to the funds for the current school year even though the amount of available funds is not identified until the audit is completed in the subsequent school year. The resolutions indicate a maximum transfer amount. They do not obligate the transfer of funds but afford us the option to make this transfer if we determine to do so at the time of the audit.
- M.3g. is unique to the current year and references legislation that was passed in April in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, requiring that contracts be paid as if schools had been opened for 180 days. This mainly impacts our transportation contracts. The resolution authorizes the payment of contracts pursuant to the legislation.
- M.3.o. approves a purchase agreement for the replacement of MacBooks for District staff. The replacement was anticipated to take place later next year, but with the extensive use of the current equipment, it was necessary to expedite the replacement schedule as a significant number of machines have had batteries stop charging on other issues leaving the machines unusable.
- And resolution M.3.p. is to accept a donation from the Wyoming PTO for new playground equipment at Slayton Field in the amount of $40,959. We thank the Wyoming PTO and the Wyoming community for their generous donation.
Comments & Questions
Answers to Comments and Questions can be found on our website: https://www.millburn.org/apps/pages/BOE_Questions
The next BOE Meeting is the Board Retreat on Thursday, June 25
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