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A few quick notes on the school board meeting of 10-22-12

Wet Orange BOE - Stuff

The BOE had a most unusual meeting.  Superintendent Cavanna status changed from suspended with pay to resigning effective December 31, 2012 and on leave till then

A statement saying he did some good was read.  No charges were filed and no accusation of wrong doing was made.   In my view the board hired this guy and mismanaged the relationship with the superintendent.  This put the schools thru and expense and distracting legal endeavor.

One of the prime responsibilities of a school board is to hire a superintendent and work with that person to make sure the policies goals and objective and budgets of the board are followed.  This board missed the boat on this issue

The block scheduling was presented it is a good idea put issue like were student will fit with lunch and the true cost are not figure out.  I will call it a good idea and I would vote for it subject to finalizing some of the issues on cost, space utilization, the open lunch for seniors question and fitting in time for teacher to collaborate.

I agree with Superintendent O’Neill that the violence report in the media our over stated however we have some concerns on discipline and violence which we did not get honest answer to.

The union contract talks are supposedly close what ever that mean.  Real changes are required in employee benefits and work rules.  I am hope fairness applies not just for teacher but also for taxpayers.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Mark Paulson October 23, 2012 at 01:05 PM
I expect better writing skills from someone who desires to be a member of the Board of Education. I believe that the presentation of one's ideas is just as important as the things that are being said. The number of errors in Mr. Kraemer's article are completely unacceptable. If he handed this paper in to a teacher at Redwood, he would get an F. Michelle Casalino and Ron Charles are the best candidates in this upcoming election. They deserve our support.
Concerned Parent October 23, 2012 at 04:50 PM
Interesting. I have witnessed the work that Michelle Casalino has done through her work on the Board and agree that she is a strong candidate in the upcoming election. Why do you think Ron Charles is a "best candidate"? Niceness aside, what credentials or experience (such as attending Board Meetings, or using that platform to advocate for children in the community) does he have? I know he's lived in West Orange a long time, has a number of children in the schools and has a leadership role in Mountaintop League, but that does not equate to have the skills, experience, or depth of knowledge to lead a School District.
Mark Paulson October 23, 2012 at 06:37 PM
Ron Charles has managed more than 700 people and a budget of over $100,000,000. He takes an active role in helping kids and he has indicated to me more than the other two men that he really wants to serve the school district to make it better. I know Michele better than Mr. Charles but they both seem to be strong candidates. I haven't been impressed with the other two candidates but I commend all four of them for being willing to make our schools better.
Concerned Parent October 23, 2012 at 09:40 PM
School Board Members are accountable for managing the Superintendent, who, in turn, is the one who has to manage more than 700 people. As we consider candidates, please let's think about what skills an effective school board member needs. It goes beyond private sector work experience and volunteering. Effective board members should be focused on moving the school district forward and educating all students to meet high standards. To paraphrase the GreatSchools site -- Great school board members have a clear vision for the district, set the vision and goals, and measure the success of the district and superintendent against the goals; They communicate their actions to the community. Through public discourse and written reports, great school board members keep the public informed of the district's progress and challenges; They work as a team, collaborate well with others and are respectful of the other board members and the superintendent; They adopt a fiscally sound district budget, pay attention to finances and regularly monitor the district's fiscal health; and most importantly, Great school board members focus on what is best for all students, focusing on student achievement and implementing policies that will ensure success for all students; and They advocate at the local, state and national level for public education. They take advantage of opportunities to communicate the needs of public schools to other levels of government and advocate for strong public schools.
Mark Paulson October 24, 2012 at 01:11 AM
One of the biggest challenges that our district encounters concerns issues outside of the school. We live in a community where over 25% of the students only live with one parent. The economic challenges that some of these families face is overwhelming. Many of the parents are not able to help their children with their homework for various reasons. The importance of college and professional careers is not on the minds of many of our students. Other communities have parents who spend enormous amounts of money for private tutors and sit with their children every evening. The children come from homes where their parents are doctors and lawyers. Every generation for the past century in those homes has graduated from college. West Orange has many students who are hoping to become the first person to attend college. There are numerous challenges that the Board of Education and the teachers need to deal with in order to prepare this collective group of individuals. Any school district would face the same challenges if they dealt with the challenges that the West Orange School district faces. I believe that efforts must be made to help parents deal with the challenges of educating their students. This is the most significant way that our district can raise test scores. It won't happen but getting more teachers or having teachers pay more for health insurance. Address issues in the homes and many things will improve. Give me a candidate who understands that and I'll vote for them!
woresident October 28, 2012 at 02:12 AM
Are you aware that teachers are contributing more to health care per the law passed by the governor. I know it is being phased in, but I believe in a few years, school employees will be paying about 30% for family benefits (the % are not exact, you would need to check the law). Also, what work rules do you believe need to be changed? I have read many of your commentaries here and on the watercooler, and with all due respect, I sincerely hope you do not win a seat on the board.
Adam Kraemer October 29, 2012 at 05:27 PM
@ Woresident - FYI -your just not correct about the law in this regard: See attached - Please go the attached web sight http://www.state.nj.us/treasury/pensions/reform-2011.shtml The rule is 1.5% of salary goes to health care. Average pay for a teacher is about $60,000.00 thus 1.5% of salary or $900 is taken out of the yearly pay check on a a typical West Orange Teacher for the health plan for a family plan. However, a family plan premium is well over $20,000.00 when the dental, eye coverage, and drug plan are included. So the average teacher will have about a 5% - 95% split on health care with taxpayers paying the 95%. As for work rules:The issue of lunch coverage, after school coverage could be more flexible. We also need flexibility on teacher evaluation and transfers. In addition I would like the contract to have some form of merit pay.
Adam Kraemer October 29, 2012 at 05:32 PM
@ Mark P: You are right - Parent or good responsible adults in charge have the most ability to impact a child's education. However, schools do matter. The way we teach children and they way encourage. If elected I will do what I can to make our schools work well. We also have to be aware of cost. A public school that is good but too expensive for the public to afford would not be a great public service. I would view it as contrary to the public interest. If elected my job would be to serve in the interest of the public and balance educational and fiscal needs
woresident October 30, 2012 at 09:22 PM
Sorry Adam but you are wrong. The 1.5% was in effect for last year. Teachets will only pay the 1.5% if it is more than the amount they pay for health care with the % . Some teachers on the first steps with a single health plan or tea hers who have chosen to not tecieve benefits from WO will play 1.5%. In a few years, teachers will be paying 30% of the family. I am right. Check your facts.
West Oranger October 31, 2012 at 03:21 PM
I'm very concerned about the writing in these posts from the candidate, but I'm more concerned about the obsession with costs over quality of education and support of teachers. Parents and BOE candidates - spend a day with your kids' teachers (and lunch aides, administrators, and other education professionals) and you'll quickly find that $60k and benefits aren't enough to compensate them for the service that they provide to our students and local economy. Taxes are too high and we need to find ways to save money, but the way to do that is to find value. Value will come from compensating teachers fairly for their education and the work they do, which will, in turn, attract the best teachers to the job. Lowballing them does nothing to help the bottom line, particulary in the long term. I'd love to hear some truly innovative ideas about how to build revenue and save money that don't involve cutting essential services or throwing town workers under the bus.
woresident November 02, 2012 at 03:16 AM
I would also like clarification on lunch coverage and after school coverage flexibility. What do you mean? What is in the contract now? Should teachers not be given a lunch time? Were you really ayeacher? Teachers I know spend a lot of time after school working. They clean up from the day, answer parent emails, correct work, make photo copies, prepare for the next day, attend meetings, etc The time they spend with children is only a part of their job. I have 2 children on elementary school and I volunteer a lot so I what teachers do. I don't think you do
woresident November 02, 2012 at 01:42 PM
Also, you stated we need more flexibility on transfers. How do transfers work now? Can't the place teachers wherever they want? Do you actually know how it works now? Do you research anything you talk about?
woresident November 02, 2012 at 01:42 PM
Should read...can't the BOE place teachers....

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