Newburgh Schools Policy Committee Wednesday Dec 14

The Newburgh School District Policy Committee on Wednesday, Dec 14. Most of the meeting was spent reviewing the district attendance policy. Several suggestions were made by a trio of administrators from NFA. They recommended that absence notes be accepted up to five school days after return to school, that the acceptable reasons for excused absences be clarified and expanded, and there the be an appeals policy to handle exceptional situations. More details in the policy meeting notes

Newburgh School District BOE Workshop December 13, 2011

The NECSD BOE Workshop meeting on Tuesday December 13 was preceded by a "Public Hearing on the Contract for Excellence Program". The hearing just consisted of a reading of what was printed in one of the PDF documents linked to in an earlier post.

At the workshop meeting Linda Bakst from NYSSBA gave a presentation about the Dignity for All Students Act; there were the usual construction updates and presentation of items to be voted upon at the December 20 BOE meeting. The Assistant Superintendant of HR mentioned that updated job descriptions for some Director positions and a job description for the Executive Principal position are expected to be on the agenda for Dec 20.

Click through for more details.

Contract for excellence public hearing

Before the Board Workshop meeting this evening at 7PM there will be a Public Hearing on the Contract for Excellence. The Contract for Excellence is a NYSED funding program, through which NECSD receives about $10 million. The agenda of the meeting lists three items: presentation of the 2011-2012 contract for excellence, public discussion and comment, and adjourn the public hearing.

There are two documents on the district website which provide a little information about the program. They are both linked near the top of this Codes, Policies, & Plans page. The Narratives document says in part:

As a result of closing some schools our strategy of class size reduction has been impacted. Other areas that were impacted were
extended school year programs for K-2, the elimination of math and literacy coaches, the elimination of young parents program
and leadership coaches.

The spreadsheet document lists allocations of funds for individual schools by categories such as "Time on Task", "Class Size Reduction", "HS or MS Restructuring", etc.

Curriculum Committee Meeting, December 6, 2011

There was a Newburgh School District Curriculum Committee meeting last Tuesday. There were two main topics of discussion: piloting a single sex classroom environment and an update on the literacy framework initiative.

Click through for the notes.

New page: NECSD contracts

The addendum to the Superintendent's contract approved by the Newburgh School District BOE on October 25, allows the Superintendent to "liquidate" up to 38 unused vacation days. If "liquidate" means to receive payment for, then the Superintendent may be receiving up to $27,700. For details, and info about many other contracts the Newburgh District has entered into, please see the contracts page. As always, any corrections are appreciated.

Some quick notes Dec 6

YNN has a video follow-up about the Girls to Ladies club.

THRecord has an article about Tom Fitzgerald's charter school efforts.

NYT reports New York State's Testing Director Resigns after announcing and then retracting plans for longer tests for 3-8 graders. Nearly four hours for ELA...

The Newburgh School District website posted the December meeting schedule on time (before the first of the month), and even included the first two meetings in January. Curriculum Committee meeting is today at 4 PM.

November 2011 BOE meeting video

Video of the November 29,2011 Newburgh School District Board of Education meeting is up. There's an embedded player here on this page or you can go directly to the video on YouTube.

I will add some index information later.

Newburgh BOE Meeting November 29, 2011

The November regular BOE meeting was this Tuesday at the library auditorium. There were about 60 people in the audience. Presentations included a grant from Toshiba, an energy presentation, and information about the Dignity for All Act. There was a statement by the school district attorney about the basketball attendance issue. There were also several public comments about various topics--including strong criticism of the search process for the Executive Principal position.

Click through for the November BOE meeting notes.

Basketball report at November BOE meeting

Here is video of school district attorney Shaw's report on the basketball attendance investigation that was given at last night's BOE meeting. There is coverage of the meeting at the THRecord site, NFA final class-cutting report names no names. Notes and additional videos from this meeting will be posted soon.

Newburgh School District BOE Workshop November 22, 2011

There was a Newburgh School District BOE workshop meeting on Tuesday, November 22. This meeting was held in the Newburgh Free Library Auditorium. There was an audience of around ten people, but chairs for many more. There is a Regular BOE meeting tonight at which these items are likely to be voted on.

Click through for the November 2011 BOE workshop meeting notes.

Open positions not posted on district site

The Newburgh School District website Human Resources page says "No current openings" (except for some internal School Violence Prevention postings with a closing date of November 9).

However, another website lists a Technology Teacher position at TH and a Special Ed position at Heritage. Both are described with a start date of 11/22/2011 and an application deadline of 11/30/2011. These jobs are also listed on the OLAS website: Special Ed, Technology Ed.

Employee suspension discontinued at special meeting

On Tuesday November 22, following a Newburgh School District BOE Workshop Meeting there was a Special Meeting. It began with an executive session. The BOE reconvened and unanimously agreed to discontinue the suspension of an employee. The employee had been suspended at this meeting. I believe this means that Ms. Bunce is no longer suspended.

Here's video of the special meeting:

Superintendent Letter in Press

The Record, Sentinel, and Mid Hudson Times all published a letter by Newburgh Superintendent of Schools Pizzo in response to a letter that was published in the Sentinel. The original letter is not easy to find online so here are copies of both. It's a bit surprising that the original letter warranted reply, also that the Superintendent's letter repeatedly refers to the Board of Education in the first person. For bonus points, spot the inappropriate apostrophe.

Special BOE Policy Meeting November 15

There was a Special Meeting of the Newburgh School District BOE on Tuesday, November 15. Board President Fucheck and Members Levinstein, Lewis, McAfee, Resch, and Woodhull attended. Also present was Superintendent Pizzo and District Clerk Botsford.

The purpose of the meeting was to work on a document expressing "Principles of Ethical Conduct for Board Members.” This would be an addendum to existing policies 0180, 3211, and 4213, and would have an accompanying signature sheet which Board Members would be expected to sign off on.

Discussion topics included...

  • To whom should Board Members raise complaints and what process should be followed? One idea was that the Board President or Superintendent should be notified and an administrative remedy should be attempted before taking any action at a meeting.
  • Board Members should be open to hear all sides of an issue before making a decision.
  • How much and what type of offline communication between Board Members is appropriate?
  • Should the Board act only on the recommendation of the Superintendent on matters of employment and dismissal of personnel?
  • Basing decisions of facts.
  • Members should diligently attend and prepare for meetings.
  • Is it appropriate for Board Members to make appointments with district personnel?
  • Is it a conflict of interest for Board members to vote on contracts which affect the health insurance benefits that they receive?

One of the documents being used at the meeting was the ethics policy of the Livingston NJ BOE. It has some interesting provisions including a few which the Newburgh School District BOE will probably not consider adopting...

No Board member shall discuss or vote on a proposed collective bargaining agreement with a bargaining unit when his/her family member belongs to that bargaining unit.
A Board member cannot be appointed to a paid office or position required to be filled by the Board, except where law permits or requires that the office or position be filled by a Board member, and is ineligible for appointment to a paid office or position in the district for at least six months after the member’s retirement, resignation, or removal from Board membership.

It is interesting that a school district would officially forbid these actions.

Playing with blocks

There's a great post over at Empowered by Play, What is the Big Deal About Blocks?

I've recently been hearing early childhood educators refer to their Smart Boards and iPads as being "hands on" tools. They are not. Knocking over a virtual tower is not the same kinesthetic experience as knocking down a real block tower. Touching a worm on a screen is not the same thing as holding a wiggling worm in your hand. Not even close.

K-2 class sizes

Back at the October regular NECSD BOE meeting there was an interesting public comment about growing class sizes, especially in the kindergarten classes. This is an issue that merits attention.

BOE Special Meeting November 14

There was a Special Meeting of the Newburgh School District BOE on Tuesday, November 14. Board President Fucheck and Members Levinstein, Lewis, McAfee, and Woodhull attended. Also present were Superintendent Pizzo, Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources Leimer, Executive Director of Human Resources McLymore, and attorney Shaw. The board went to executive session "to review the employment history of particular individuals" and "to receive advice from the school attorney."

Special meetings this week

This evening the Newburgh School District BOE will be having a special meeting. "A Special Meeting of the Board of Education with an anticipated executive session subject to Board approval has been scheduled for Monday, November 14, 2011 at 7:00 p.m ..."

And also tomorrow. "A Special Meeting of the Board of Education has been scheduled for Tuesday, November 15, 2011 at 5:15 p.m. ..."

The public notice also says that "the Finance Committee Meeting scheduled for Tuesday at 5:30 p.m. has been canceled."

The Sentinel published these notifications several days before the district website did.

NYSED publishes 2011-12 statuses

NYSED has published the accountability status of districts and schools in New York State. Due to the changing of test cut scores, many schools are newly tagged as "in need of improvment".

An excerpt from material on the NYSED accountability designations page:

The number of schools and districts that were newly identified for improvement is unprecedented. Last year, 102 schools and 4 school districts were newly identified for improvement. This year the number of newly identified schools increased to 847 and the number of newly identified districts increased to 89.

As for the Newburgh School District it is "In Need of Improvement - Year 6" for Elementary-Middle Level ELA and Secondary ELA. Five elementary schools in the district were "newly identified". Click through for the Newburgh schools accountability status data.