Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Board Meets Governance Standards

School board members applauded vigorously Tuesday (Jan. 15, 2008) after Nancy Stern of the New Jersey School Boards Association announced they had completed every aspect of an action plan to meet new state monitoring requirements.

Stern and Nancy DiBartolo of the association helped the board finish two last items Tuesday. The board will vote Tuesday (Jan. 22, 2008) to approve the plan and then it will be sent to the state Department of Education for review.

The new monitoring program, New Jersey Quality Single Accountability Continuum, or NJQSAC, involved visits from state teams in early 2007 to examine five performance areas in the district. The administration was responsible for four of them and the board was responsible for governance.

In August, DOE Commissioner Lucille Davy said Plainfield’s scores were 8 percent for Instruction and Program, 11 percent for Governance, 32 percent for Fiscal Management, 38 percent for Personnel and 61 percent for Operations. Scores over 81 were considered adequate, but those under 50 percent triggered the need for remediation and possible state intervention.

Since the scores were released, district officials have been working hard to address, and in some cases, refute the findings.

School Board President Patricia Barksdale Tuesday repeated her questioning of why 15 districts out of more than 600 were monitored without prior instruction, while now others will receive training in advance to carry out self-assessments.

Barksdale also questioned the new school funding formula passed in a lame-duck session with last-minute language changes.

As one of the state’s 31 poorest “Abbott” districts, Plainfield receives 80 percent of its school funding from the state, a formula that suburban districts have sought to upset. Many wealthier districts pay most school costs from property taxes. The new formula is based on aid per pupil need rather than by district.

In another issue on state testing, board member Agurs Linward “Lenny” Cathcart Jr. said he wanted people to know that seven schools had met Adequate Yearly Progress standards under the federal “No Child Left Behind” program.

Plaintalker has aleady summed up the results at least twice, but for those who missed them, here they are again:

Among the elementary schools, Dewitt D. Barlow met the AYP standards but must do so again next year to get out of Year 2 status. Cedarbrook met the standards for two years and is out of Year1 status. Clinton met the standards but is on hold in Year 3. Frederic W. Cook met the standards and is out of Year 1 status for Language Arts. Emerson met Mathematics AYP standards, but not Language Arts and is Year 1 status. Evergreen met the standards and is on hold in Year 3 status. Jefferson met Mathematics standards but not Language Arts and is on Year 3 status. Charles H. Stillman met mathematics standards but not Language Arts and remains in Year 3 status since the 2003-04 school year. Washington met both standards and is on hold in Year 2 status. Woodland met AYP standards for the second time since 2005-06 and is not in status.

The school district still has many more chores, including filling top administrative posts and finding a permanent superintendent. A search has been underway since August and may yield a vote by February. Meanwhile, new Interim Superintendent Garnell Bailey is in charge.

--Bernice Paglia


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