[Live Stream] Collingswood Board of Education Meeting 1/28/2019

Tonight is the first meeting of the reorganized Collingswood Board Of Education for 2019.



The Agenda for tonight’s meeting can be seen here:



Committee of The Whole

Ms. Kaiden went over the recap from the District’s Equity Committee meeting for January

  • common themes from the equity committee included
    • Mindset Shifts
    • Community engagement
    • Support staff
    • Focus on trauma-informed practices
  • An issue is that the Current budget really does not allow for additional staff.
  • So options are to reprioritize the budget and/or increase taxes. According to Dr. Oswald The 2% tax increase cannot really meet these goals from the committee, but there could be a proposed budget in March/April. This higher budget could add an additional question for voters on a ballot to increase the revenue from taxes to fund these line items. However, if the items are not approved the money cannot come from other areas of the budget. The increase also could not fund capital improvements or be used to pay for existing programs and expenses.
  • Dr. Becker said that a lot of the suggestions could be organized from existing resources and programs
  • Ms. Brooks says that some of the items on the list are things that we can do quickly. Example: to allow Special Needs students to start in their general education class rather than in a self-contained class.
  • Panther Pantry: Dr. Oswald has a concern about staff taking on a lot of the responsibility for working and donating items. To scale the program, the community needs to get involved to be successful.
  • Ms. Kaiden agrees that the community at large is likely not aware of the Panther Pantry so solicitation from the community is needed.
  • Ms. Henry commented that corporate giving should also be pursued whenever possible, including Panther Pantry.
  • Mr. Connor shared that the community should be contributing in addition to the teaching and school staff. The Board should be taking inventory of what the schools are doing across the district so that the community can be more aware of the resources that are available to them and students.
  • Ms. Kaiden shared that this inventory would also bring more efficient working of equity goals to the Equity Committee’s meetings.
  • Dr. Oswald commented that we should be working with organizations that may be better connected to provide parts to make for more successful programs. Ie: Philabundance.
  • Ms. Saverino shared that asking the students to share what they need instead of adults making assumptions.
  • Ms. Kaiden agreed that this would make the programs more successful.…See More
  • Ms. Kaiden thinks that the committee will be pursuing the little to low-cost ideas and solutions and getting buy-in from the individuals to get people involved from the community into improving equity in Collingswood Schools.
  •  Mr. Connor shared that he thinks that people seeing the numbers (costs number of people helped) would help get the community into a position of better understanding the need for the programs.
  • Ms. Henry shared that getting some things done like a gender-neutral dress code should be easily achievable with actions as being Board-led, but the costs and complications should be shared with the Equity Committee.


Update to Public Participation

Ms. Henry clarified the purpose of Public Comment being a bit more flexible going forward. Simpler questions may be answered, but the public may be asked to email the board for more complex issues.


Presentation: Special Education and Counseling Program Updates from Ms. Barbara Wister and Dr. Plescia

Ms. Wister Reported that:

Availability of Advanced Placement courses are more readily available to students now. There is now a waiver that includes a commitment from the student toward the coursework for success in the placement.

  • There was an increase in placements from 2014
  • Positive results in action seen when Counseling changed PSAT procedure:
    Students are not more funded to take PSAT testing
  • Students are also able to take the test during the school day.
  • Over the time reported, more students were taking the test
  • Compared to local schools, Collingswood students have improved
  • 114% increase in students taking exams.
  • 89% growth in success for students who take the AP classes
  • Collingswood schools beat national averages in AP scoring students, also scoring well on NJ’s average.
  • A positive trend is seen in access to testing and access to AP classes
  • The benefit for college-bound students is that the cost of the test is less than college credits, including electives that are part of a BA.

The next presentation was from Dr. Plescia on special services programs.

  • Dr. Plescia shared the numbers for Special Education enrollment at the individual schools
  • The Vocational Programs are using community-based instruction
  • The program is seeing success in placing students in the jobs, and the jobs that they are interested in
    • moving ahead is the growth in Trauma-informed programs
    • 18-21 program is asking for more space for the program
    • staffing patterns are adjusting to the available talent
    • CST expansion means that we will see growth in the need for programs
    • The Child Study teach would like to improve involvement in parent programs
    • there is a need for a community childcare help spot
    • The students make a lot of products, so having a storefront can help round out the program


Part 5- Future Dates and Misc Info

Fri, 2/1/19 Newbie Talent Show –  6:45pm – CMS Auditorium
Fri, 2/8/19 MS/HS Report Card Distribution
Wed, 2/13/19 Tatem Talent Show – 6:00pm – CMS Auditorium
Thurs, 2/14/19 Early Dismissal for Students – Staff PLD
Fri, 2/15/19 School Closed – Staff PLD
Mon, 2/18/19 School Closed – Presidents’ Day
Wed, 2/20/19 HS STEM Night – 5:00pm – 8:00pm – HS Gym
Fri, 2/22/19 HS Student Council Blood Drive – HS Gym
Fir, 2/22/19 Garfield Talent Show – 6:30pm – CMS Auditorium
Mon, 2/25/19 BOE Meeting – Zane North All Purpose Room – 6:30pm


Policy Readings

Tonight’s meeting had a lot of Policies having a first reading.

Policy #
0141.2 Board Member and Term – Receiving District – Revised
2145.06   Unsafe School Choice Option – Revised
2422 Health and Physical Education – Revised


Practice and Pre-Season Heat-Acclimation for School-Sponsored Athletics and Extra-Curricular Activities
2610 Educational Program Evaluation – Revised


Commercial Driver’s License Controlled Substance and Alcohol Use Testing – Revised
5111 Eligibility of Resident/Nonresident Students – Revised
5337 Service Animals – Revised
5600 Student Discipline/Code of Conduct – Revised
5611 Removal of Students for Firearms Offenses – Revised
5612 Assaults on District Board of Education Members or Employees – Revised
5613 Removal of Students for Assaults with Weapons Offenses – Revised
5756 Transgender Students – Revised
7440 School District Security – Revised


Reporting Violence, Vandalism, Harassment, Intimidation, Bullying, Alcohol, and Other Drug Offenses – Revised
8561 Procurement Procedures for School Nutrition Programs – Revised
8860 Memorials – Revised


Important Updates And Documents:

A big change to the school calendar will be additional professional development time on the first Wednesday of each month. This change can be seen on this calendar

Please see the revised MOA agreement mention in part 14.03


Public Comment Highlights

  • A resident asked for clarification on the amount of change to the MOA. Dr. Oswald said that the MOA is mostly the same as the previous version.
  • Another resident brought the issue of no dedicated library space or arrangements for students to attend libraries at Tatem elementary. There was no comment from the Board at this time.


The next meeting of the Collingswood Board of Education will be on

Monday, February 25, 2019 at 6:30pm at Zane North Elementary in the All Purpose Room.


Jen R

Jen R

Jen Rossi, Vice President Jen Rossi moved to Collingswood with her spouse in 2012. She is a graduate of Georgian Court University with a Bachelor's Degree in Education and Fine Art. She has a certificate of eligibility with advanced standing in Elementary Education (K-5) and as a Teacher of Fine Art (K-12). After a part-time floating position and substitute teaching, Jen returned to the corporate world. Professionally Jen is a Digital Marketing Manager for a privately owned insurance brokerage, providing important information on how to reduce the risks in today's business world: ranging from slip and fall injuries to computer network hacks. Getting the information in the hands of people who need it with the help of guidebooks, webinars, instructional videos, blog posts, social media alerts, and online courses. With this background in education and knowledge of the process for communicating important information to anyone willing to hear it, Jen focuses her energy on making a big impact with small things- making life a little more convenient, helping people get informed, keeping things practical and timely, and encouraging achievable goals for success. In her free time, Jen loves upcycling, improving, and otherwise repurposing materials to the delight of family, neighbors, and Etsy customers. She looks forward to running down questions and getting helpful information into social feeds and inboxes of members of the Collingswood community.