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Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Boonton Twp. Board of Ed. presents its self-evaluation

Charlene Peterson, New Jersey School Boards Association field service representative, gave the Boonton Township Board of Education a summary of its self-evaluation at the Board meeting on Wednesday, Dec. 10. This self-evaluation is no longer required by the state and the Board’s choosing to do so "shows good boardsmanship," said Peterson.

The Board showed that it understands the importance of planning, finances, and setting policy. It placed student achievement high on the list of priorities, and Peterson said this should always be placed most high on the list. One of the areas the Board must work on is being able to work better as a group.

Dr. Gayle Strauss, superintendent/principal, thanked Board member Jennifer Sowa for all her time dedicated to the BOE. Since she did not run for office this year, this meeting was her last. Strauss said an educator, such as Sowa, enriched the Board. Sowa has served for more than three years on the Board and is director of special services for Pequannock.

Sowa said, "I enjoyed serving as a member of the Boonton Township Board of Education. The time spent volunteering in this role was worth it." She got to see the students excelling in various areas supported by the BOE. She added, "Unfortunately, I could not devote the time needed any longer and chose not to run again. I wish my fellow Board members, John Murray, and Dr. Strauss the best."

Strauss explained to the Board that the State Board of Education streamlined the process of Quality Single Accountability Continuum (QSAC) for districts designated previously as high performing (HP) districts. If HP districts continue to meet 80 percent or greater on the QSAC continuum, they are now eligible to submit an equivalency request to be certified by the State Board for an additional three years as a HP district without further monitoring. Strauss was very happy to say that Rockaway Valley School (RVS) met all the criteria and received the three-year pass.

The QSAC areas of evaluation are in instruction, programming, fiscal, governance, operations, and personnel. Because Rockaway Valley School (RVS) test scores met or exceeded all state goals and the curriculum is current, the areas of instruction and programming received 100 percent. Strauss said that this is the most difficult area to address. Test scores are key.

The other four areas are a matter of administration complying with all state mandates in accurate and timely fashion.

Strauss stated, "The community should be extremely proud of the students and the entire school faculty for the continuation of RVS as a high-performing school district. Thank you to all the stakeholders for a job well done."

In a preview of what is to come by September 2015, Strauss informed the Board that the state is requiring the implementation of Office of Career and Technical Education Standard 9. It is called 21st Century Life and Careers. Their mission statement says: "21st century life and career skills enable students to make informed decisions that prepare them to engage as active citizens in a dynamic global society and to successfully meet the challenges and opportunities of the 21st century global workplace."

It also states that this is necessary because to be college and career ready, students must have opportunities to understand career concepts and financial literacy. These skills will be infused into the social studies, science, math, and other appropriate programs.

To be in compliance with the 21st Century Life and Careers, the Board is looking into high-tech activities such as creating a Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics (STEM) lab that will make the library a full media center. The material presented by Strauss stated, "The strength of the labs lies in the philosophy of providing technology education, not technology entertainment. The environment provides computer-based learning resources that incorporate multimedia technology in a managed environment."

Science includes physical science, scientific reasoning, and environment. Technology includes principles of programming, coding, and robotics. Mathematics will include experiments in measuring speed, distance, and balance. It also will involve machines, transportation, and numbers. Engineering will deal with simple machines, power transfer, and gear trains.

The material on "Why a STEM Lab?" stated, "Building projects lead to experiments. Data is gathered, and comparative reports are presented. In each assignment, students are learning workplace skills, such as problem solving, team work, and communication skills."

The process of finding a replacement for Strauss is a Board priority, and purchasing uniforms for the school athletic programs is high on the list.

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