The State Board of Education held its regular monthly meeting on May 6 and considered several items, including teacher preparation and appreciation, board governance, and expanding the scope of an educational services commission.

The New Jersey Department of Education updated the board on its proposal to change teacher licensing. These proposals will impact teacher professional development, pre-service training and licensing. Suggested changes include an increase in the amount of student teaching that pre-service teachers must complete, more training for those teachers interested in getting their certification via the alternate route and an increase in the amount of training that all teachers receive in special education. The State Board is planning to hold a public hearing on these regulatory changes on May 20 at 1p.m. at NJDOE offices. For further information on the public hearing, call (609) 984-6024.

State Board Leadership The president of the State Board, Mark Biedron, selected Peter Simon, Ernest Lepore, and Dorothy Strickland to serve on the board’s nominating committee. This committee is charged with recommending a vice president and president for the State Board for the 2015-2016 fiscal year, which begins in July. The committee will report back to the board on its recommended slate at its June meeting. Biedron also asked the board to review the proposed meeting dates for the 2015-2016 fiscal year. The board will vote on the meeting dates at its June meeting.

The board also passed two resolutions. One recognized physical education and sport month, as well as national teacher appreciation week. For national teacher appreciation week, the State Board chose to recognize Mercer County’s Teacher of the Year, Ismat Shari. The board heard from Ms. Shari concerning her path to becoming a teacher as well as her philosophies of effective teaching.

The board also heard from Mark Finklestein who is the superintendent of Middlesex Regional Educational Services Commission. Mr. Finkelstein described what the MRESC does and the services that it provides. MRESC started in 1977 and currently provides services to 125 schools located in five counties. The MRESC operates seven special education schools and serves 800 students. The MRESC also transports over 14,000 students and is involved in cooperative purchasing agreements with over 880 governmental units, making it the largest statewide shared service provider in the state. The MRESC appeared before the board as it is seeking to be recognized not just as a regional provider, but as a statewide provider of services to school districts.