Board of Ed Receives Positive Audit, Make Up School Days Discussed

At the Nov. 13 Board of Education meeting, the annual audit report was explained and ideas to make up the lost school days from Hurricane Sandy were discussed.

On Nov. 13 the Board of Education(BOE) held an open agenda meeting, the first since Sandy struck the township.

The board discussed how Sandy impacted the school district, as well as the annual audit that was conducted for the BOE. 

Superintendent Dr. Margaret Hayes, informed the board of some her ideas on how to make up the lost school days from Hurricane Sandy. She noted that none of the ideas were concrete but would like to put them out there for the public to voice their opinions.

Hayes said usually when the district goes over the three emergency days issued, they dip into spring break to make up those missed dates. However, she said she would rather look into alternate days.

For example, she mentioned using both President's Day and Martin Luther King Jr. Day as full days for all of the schools and adding on the last day of the year, June 21, for all elementary schools except School One and Coles. 

School One and Coles would need to find one more additional day on top of those three since the two schools went an extra day without power.

Hayes and Board of Education President Trip Whitehouse commended all of the administrators and faculty who stayed on top of the conditions of the schools during Sandy.

Whitehouse particularly called on Deborah Saridaki who he said was inside all of the schools making sure that no severe damage occurred and the schools were safe for the children to return to.

Saridaki noted that only two schools suffered damage,  reporting that School One had a dented piece of metal and Evergreen School was hit with a tree knocking out a few bricks. Both incidents would easily be fixed by personnel already working for the district, Saridaki added.

Saridaki also wanted to thank Director of Building and Grounds Anthony Miranda, as well as  the SP-F maintenance and custodian workers.

Both Whitehouse and Saridaki said Miranda did exceptional work keeping the buildings safe and that he was sometimes out until 3 a.m. or into the late evening hours, despite the issues he was facing with his own home.

Whitehouse added that the administrative staff kept in contact with him almost daily and that they were even driving around for a cell signal in order to get the Honeywell Alerts out to parents and guardians. 

Whitehouse ended the storm effort conversation by saying, "Well done to the whole team." 

Again mentioning how they pulled it together to get the information out on the limited communication channels that were available.

In addition to the post-Sandy discussion, the Board presented their audit report which received no recommendations from Heidi Wohlleb the auditor from Nisivoccia LLP.

Wohlleb addressed the board by telling them they should be very pleased with the results.

Last year's audit had one recommendation about the student activity fees moving away from cash transactions, which Wohlleb said is now working out much better.

Whitehouse added that "the electronic way is the way to go."

"The General Fund, which is the main operating fund, is in good financial condition," Wohlleb said.

The board had little to ask of Wohlleb due to the fact their were no recommendations in moving forward.

Whitehouse and Wohlleb both thanked Mrs. Saridaki and her team for running the business department smoothly and providing the auditors with all the details they needed in compiling the report.

At the Nov. 29 Board of Education Regular Public Meeting, the Curriculum Report will be presented along with several recognitions of student achievement.

haljalikea kick November 14, 2012 at 11:54 AM
I do not like Dr Hayes above suggestion of opening the schools on Martin Luther King Jr or President's Day, both National holidays. The district calendar states if more emergency days are needed - spring break days will be used as makeup school days.... Use spring break days
Flavia November 14, 2012 at 04:30 PM
I love the idea of adding 1 day in the end of the year and using mld and presidents day. It makes a lot of sense. A lot of families already made plans for spring break.
Michael November 14, 2012 at 04:35 PM
I like the idea by Dr. Hayes of trying to think outside the box which shows flexibility and the idea think creatively. There are many half-days and additional days off which many questio that could be removed or extended to full day. While President's Day and Martin Luther King, Jr day are National Holidays there are still many companies that don't give employees the day off so this as a valid option.
Kathleen B. Stovall November 14, 2012 at 05:00 PM
Many parents have off from work on the National Holidays, but need to take additional days off for Spring break. My vote is to take the extra days from Spring break. Let's think of the working parents for a change.
Jenni November 14, 2012 at 05:26 PM
I totally agree with Kathleen. How about the working parents?? Any one who plans a spring break vacation is taking their chances...the calendar says additional emergency days will made up from spring break. Why is this being questioned?
douglassgrad November 14, 2012 at 06:07 PM
We still need to get through this winter. Even if the district does use the two holidays as make-up days, if we have bad weather in the next few months, we'll also need to take days out of spring break. I'm not sure what would happen if we give the kids the holidays off, take days out of spring break, and then end up with snow days. Where do the days come from then?
Flavia November 14, 2012 at 06:31 PM
By the way, both my husband and I work and that's what we planned our vacation during the school spring break schedule. Because we are the working parents.
Michael November 14, 2012 at 07:00 PM
As a working parent I am not t in agreement that the school district dictates that a Spring Break is required plus the dates and then state if an emergency occurs then days will be taken from it instead of the multitude of half-days and extra full days taken off. November 21st is a half day when it should be a full day. The same item occurs on June 19th and June 20th. On November 27th. 28th, 29th, and 30th are half days. Why not have teacher conferences at night or in the mornings or have a substitute watch the kids while families have teach conferences so families don't have to take time off these days. Add those days up and it comes out to be 3.5 days back which are not recognized by any employer as holidays, etc.
spres November 14, 2012 at 08:26 PM
You do realize that 1/2 days count as full days. Making a 1/2 day a full day does not add days to the school calendar.. So all those 1/2 days you mentioned count as full days already. Also I don't agree with the fact that Coles and school #1 students go to school longer because their schools were without power several days longer. Alot of other towns combined their schools so that all students went to school the same amount of days. Why didnt SPF do that?
Barney Oldfield November 14, 2012 at 08:29 PM
Michael, I agree with you that teacher conferences should be at night so as not to take up what could be school time. However, I am pretty sure that those schedules are contractual and you would have to get the union to agree to move conferences to night which is unlikely. I have no problem with classes on MLK day or President's Day as rather than just a day off, students could be learning lessons about Dr. King's life and philosophy.
douglassgrad November 14, 2012 at 08:52 PM
The 'half-days' -- day before Thanksgiving, conference days for elementary kids, and the last days of school -- count as complete school days and so count towards the required number of days.. (That's why the school day is actually a bit longer than a half day) Extending those days will not help make up the missed time. We will need to pull from holidays, spring break or extend the school year. And if we have a bad winter, we still may end up doing a combintion of those. There is also the possibility that the governor will shorten the school year.
Kate November 14, 2012 at 09:27 PM
A half day in school is recognized as one of the 180 school days. Turning a half day (or all half days) into a full day will not help make up days missed from school. A half day contains enough instructional hours for it to "count" as a full day because lunch/recess are removed and each class period is shortened by a few minutes.
Divir13 November 14, 2012 at 11:03 PM
All these ideas sound wonderful, but we still need to get thru winter. To make a decision on when to make up the days is a little premature at this time. Do you really think NJ school districts will lose federal funding due to a natural disaster that caused loss of days.
Kristen November 14, 2012 at 11:35 PM
Just for the record, a 4 hour school session or 1/2 day counts as a full day towards the 180 day requirement. You can not extend a 1/2 day to a full day and count it twice.
Derek November 15, 2012 at 12:35 AM
For once we may see the union squirm a little because finally their own contract may backfire. 180 days are required and normally that's so the teachers don't work any more than that. This time though it's so they actually work that number of days and not less. They are contracted to work that many days, no matter where the days come from, be it Saturdays, holidays etc.
Jenni November 15, 2012 at 12:46 PM
Hi Michael, I agree with you about all the half days. But, Unfortunately - the schools get 'credit' of a whole school day for those many half days!! The schools could use your ideas for the half days, at least they could try to catch up on the lost instruction !!!
Stuart Fuchsman November 15, 2012 at 03:08 PM
Great communication during the storm. Good job!
Nicole Bitette (Editor) November 15, 2012 at 06:22 PM
Hi Divir13, I believe Dr. Hayes had also said the same thing. She said they still don't know what the winter might have in store. So by doing it this way, if additional snow days are used then they'd still have to use Spring Break days.
Michael November 15, 2012 at 06:51 PM
I appreciate everyone informing me of how half days are counted. Hopefully the schools will adjust those days to help get the kids instruction back on track. Interesting to hear Derek's comments that it doesn't matter if it is Saturdays, holidays, etc.that teachers work as long as they get in their 180 days. I'm not an advocate of regularly making people work weekends, nights, or holidays but there are cases when it is warranted. I have an erratic schedule due to my job and would rather not require others work weekends unless really needed. I am sure teachers are flexible considering the circumstances and as others have said - we still have winter coming so being open to all options is a good thing. If the schools do take days from Spring Break I'd assume the schools will be flexible and not penalize kids who are gone those dates as some families have scheduled items for those days. In the end - it would be nice to know the plan so all families can schedule appropriately.
Enough Already November 15, 2012 at 08:00 PM
Derek, I'm confused by your comment. Either way, the teachers are working 180 days.
Enough Already November 15, 2012 at 08:03 PM
Unless a majority of students would be there, it wouldn't make sense to have school on Saturdays. Also, sports schedules would complicate the scheduling. This is not just a matter of making the teachers work 180 days, it is to ensure that the students will actually be there to receive instruction.


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