BOE Meeting Headlines
News and Views from the September 9, 2019 BOE Meeting
At the September 9th Board of Education meeting, Mr. Paul McDevitt, Buildings & Grounds Director, shared all the work undertaken around the district by our hardworking custodians, buildings and grounds personnel, as well as overseeing projects by contractors.
Be sure to take a look at his Before & After slide show to see the progress being made in our buildings. (There are many more capital and maintenance projects planned as part of our long-term facilities plan.)
Board President's Report
Alex Zaltsman, Board President:
I’d like to welcome everyone to the new school year! Before being a Board of Ed member I used to think that schools being closed during the summer meant that the school staff takes the summer off…. Until I came to the Ed Center during the summer months. I saw teachers participating in professional development and our administrative staff managing school maintenance projects. The board also met in July and August and together we defined the district and board goals we will be voting to accept at today’s meeting.
- I’d like to acknowledge and thank all the PTOs for their generous donations to our schools.
- I’d like to thank the Ed Foundation for organizing Rocktoberfest which will take place on September 28th in Taylor Park! The Ed Foundation raises over $150,000 during the year for our schools. I encourage all to come and have fun on the 28th! I’d also like to acknowledge and thank the Town Council members, particularly Deputy Mayor Jackie Lieberberg, for organizing the Millwheel project! Our Board of Ed Millwheel was on display on Saturday at Taylor Park and was decorated by board members Sonali Ganti and Oyin Owolabi. Thanks to both of them for volunteering their time to be part of this community project.
Start of School
I want to wish everyone a welcome back as today was day 5 of the school year. I’ve had a chance to get to all of the schools and even did arrival and car line at Wyoming and Glenwood Schools. We had a few kinks to be worked out with a few of our bus runs and we’ve been able to address the concerns. We know that as new families move into the district and parents make requests, there are more tweaks that need to happen in the coming weeks.
I want to send a sincere thank you to the entire Millburn staff who helped in the evidence gathering as part of the compliance measures of the QSAC review. The New Jersey QSAC stands for Quality Single Accountability Continuum, which is the Department of Education's monitoring and district self-evaluation system for public school districts. The system focuses on monitoring and evaluating school districts in five key components that, based on research, have been identified to be key factors in effective school districts. These components are Instruction & Program, Fiscal, Governance, Operations, and Personnel. Over the summer we received the announcement that we passed the review with the following scores:
- Instruction & Program 92%
- Fiscal Management 96%
- Governance 100%
- Operations 97%
- Personnel: 100%
Capital & Maintenance Plan (C&MP) Update
Over the summer at our July meeting, the Board voted to move forward with the DOE applications for the capital and maintenance projects that are part of what we are calling the Capital & Maintenance Projects (C&MP). C&MP is the result of a 2-year board goal to look at alternative funding methods for capital projects and has resulted in a mindset shift for the project financing for the district.
This financial strategy, which is already utilized by many other districts, is somewhat straightforward. Millburn will comfortably stay at its current AAA-rated debt level. As existing bonds mature and are repaid, we will maintain a relatively flat debt schedule by issuing new bonds in their place. This rolling debt service means your taxes remain flat while still allowing for a steady inflow of funds to address our current and long-range facility needs.
Paul McDevitt, our Buildings and Grounds Director, has painstakingly formulated a robust 5-year long-range facilities plan and C&MP will use the rolling debt service strategy to finance these projects, some of which include:
· Security vestibules at 7 of our schools to mirror the one at Washington School
· MS cafeteria space
· HVAC projects at the MS and HS
· Roof, window and paving projects district-wide at our other schools
We will have further details on the proposed projects for our schools at our next board meeting (9/23/19) when our architect will be here to present on both the completed 2016 referendum projects and we will discuss the new set of projects.
New Jersey #1!!
We began the school year with some good news: Headlines for this year’s Quality Counts report from Education Week magazine announced, “In National Ranking of School Systems, a New State Is On Top.”
The report explained that New Jersey has taken the top spot in the newly released report that measures academic achievement, school funding, and chance for success.
The Commissioner shared that it is due in part to the approach the State took that focuses on fair funding that bolsters preschool, STEM and innovative opportunities… and helping schools to provide a diverse student body with the academic and social-emotional skills needed for success.
The HS Football team had an impressive win in their home opener 34-9 against Kearny. I also had a chance to visit with the Guarino family during the half-time presentation of a proclamation and a jersey to honor the late coach Carmen Guarino.
Thanks to our Community Partners
On behalf of the district administration I would like to send a huge thank you to Melanie Rosenbaum from Real Short Hills, Arlene Gonnella from Weichert Realtors and the builder, Elan Bitan for their generous support of the district through lending us an amazing home this summer for our administrative retreat. We had a consultant come and present a full-day workshop for the administrators in this incredible location. It made for a fun-filled day of leadership building and training for everyone.
Thanks to our District Staff
In closing, I want to thank all those who had a hand in the planning and preparation for the start of the school year. There are many hours of cleaning, reviewing schedules, revising curriculum, practicing routes, hiring staff, weeding and mowing to eventually bring us to the start of each school year. We have just under 5,000 students that we plan, implement and monitor every aspect of their day with us and we give it 100%. I ask that you work with us to make it the best it can be as we endeavor to bring the best education that we can offer our students and that we do so as partners. Stephen Covey reminds us to seek first to understand, then to be understood. When there is a concern, start with a question, find out more information and work with us toward a resolution. As I shared with the staff at the convocation last week, small things can make a big difference!
Business Administrator's Report
School Business Administrator, Cheryl Schneider, shared updates on Buildings & Grounds, the School District Audit process and Transportation:
- As Mr. McDevitt presented, this was a very active summer, accomplishing many facility upgrades throughout the district. This is just the beginning of addressing a multitude of projects that have been identified as part of our updated long-range facility plan. The identification of projects evolved over the past few years with input from many different stakeholders. We appreciate the input from our administration, our staff and students, our professional consultants, the PTO’s, and of course the community in general. Thank you to Mr. McDevitt and his staff for getting so many priority projects completed over the past year. There are still a number of projects to be done and we are continuously identifying additional projects. You will be hearing more about the long-range plan and project timelines over the next few months.
- For the past few weeks, the auditors have been working in the District reviewing our financials and operations from last year. The auditors have completed their onsite reviews and are finalizing their annual report which is anticipated to be presented to the public at a Board meeting in November.
- We had a relatively smooth opening in the area of transportation this year for the majority of our bus routes. We did have issues with two buses that serviced the bus routes for High School 3, Middle School 15 and Washington 5 & 6. Hopefully, with the success of Friday’s and today’s operations for these routes, the issues of last week are behind us. But I did want to take a moment to answer some questions about busing company decisions. Like all purchasing done by the School District, we are required to follow the NJ Purchasing laws. Pursuant to these laws, we were required to bid out these routes, which was handled for us through Sussex Cooperative last April. Durham School Services was the low bidder for these routes. The NJ purchasing laws require us to accept the lowest bid.
- The transportation contracts do contain fines for lack of performance of the terms of the agreement. These fines were issued immediately last week and at the same time, Sussex Cooperative began the process of getting a replacement company, should we need it. Hopefully, the past two transportation days are indicative of the service we will be receiving going forward. Thank you to Mr. Lauton and his staff for working so closely with the Durham drivers to help them with the routes and to Mr. Lauton for his continued communication to parents throughout the week.
Comments & Questions
Also a REMINDER THAT ROCKTOBERFEST IS A COMMUNITY EVENT --
HOPE TO SEE YOU ALL THERE ON SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 28.
Fun for all ages -- all day long! Get more information here: https://www.millburnrocktoberfest.com/
Want more? Have questions?
See the full AGENDA - 9/9/19
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All Board of Education meetings are held at the Education Center at 7:45 p.m., 434 Millburn Avenue, unless otherwise noted. All members of the community are invited and encouraged to attend BOE meetings. Please join us at our next meeting: Monday, September 23.