At its June meeting, the State Board of Education heard the following updates and took action on a variety of items:
The State Board’s nominating committee nominated the current president, Mark Biedron, and its current vice-president, Joe Fisicaro, to continue in those roles for the upcoming year. The State Board organizes every July and will officially make its selection for the positions at its next meeting.
The State Board also heard about the Weehawken School District Capstone Projects. The AP Capstone complements the in-depth, subject-specific rigor of Advanced Placement courses and exams.
Two components, seminar and research, centered around the following pedagogical framework: Question and Explore, Understand and Analyze Arguments, Evaluate Multiple Perspectives, Synthesize Ideas, Team, Transform, and Transmit. This framework allows students to develop, practice, and hone their critical and creative thinking skills as they make connections between various issues and their own lives.
Certification of School Districts – The State Board was presented with the results of the most recent NJQSAC reviews for various school districts. Among the improved school districts was Jersey City, who attained “High Performing” status in all areas, clearing the way for the return of the district to full local control.
State Board Calendar of Meeting Dates—The State Board approved its meeting dates for the upcoming year starting in July.
State Special Education Advisory Council—The state board approved the reappointments of the following individuals to the council: Barbara Gantwerk has been the director of special services for the New Jersey Principals and Supervisors Association and the Foundation for Educational Administration since June of 2013, where she coordinates programs that serve professionals working in the area of student support services. Prior to that, she was employed by the New Jersey Department of Education for 33 years where she was the state consultant for speech and language services, the director of the Office of Special Education Programs and the assistant commissioner for the Division of Student Services. Amy Smith is currently the director of the Office of Information Services for Autism New Jersey, where she represents the association to the community, presents on various advocacy topics and oversees the Information and Communications departments. She is a former teacher of the handicapped and the director of Childhood Services for the Arc of Somerset County, Inc.
The role of the advisory council is to advise the department in the promulgation of rules, regulations and implementation of N.J.A.C. 6A:14 and the establishment of standards and qualifications for professional personnel
Fiscal Accountability for Approved Private Schools for Students with Disabilities—The State Board approved regulations to increase the accountability for those private schools who provide special education services to students whose needs cannot be met within the local district. The rules in this subchapter provide the methodology for calculation of tuition charged by approved private schools for students with disabilities (APSSD). The rules also establish non-allowable costs, audit and budgeting requirements and new school application information. The rules also require the establishment of anti-nepotism policies in these schools.
Educational Facilities—The board readopted the regulations regarding lead in drinking water in the schools. Included was an amendment to incorporate recently enacted legislation which moves to January 1, 2016, the testing beginning date for reimbursement eligibility.
Evaluation of the Performance of School Districts—The State Board approved a proposal for comment that would update the regulations on how districts are evaluated under the New Jersey Quality Single Accountability (NJQSAC) framework. The proposed changes will streamline the process, making it less burdensome for school districts.
Regulatory Equivalency and Waiver–The rules govern the equivalency and waiver process and provide the opportunity for regulatory flexibility for school districts and most programs regulated by the department. An equivalency is permission to meet the requirements of a rule through an alternative means selected by the district board of education. A waiver allows a district board of education to avoid compliance with the specific procedures or substantive requirements of a rule for reasons that are educationally, organizationally, and fiscally sound. The rules require a school district’s educational community, including parents, administration, and staff members, to be informed of the proposed equivalency or waiver and provided the opportunity to comment.