There were multiple advocates for school librarians at the Elementary level in attendance at this meeting. The Budget report was also presented to the Board. The Ballot question proposed for November 2019 about the school-based mental services, an annual increase to the budget of $225,000.
The complete agenda may be found here:
Highlights From The Budget Presentation
- We have added students to the Middle school and Freshman Students
- we have added a teacher at Tatem elementary, and a case manager.
- The Special Education program is growing at the High school
- Our literacy program is undergoing a rewrite- expected updates on standards expected at end of May.
- There are a number of capital improvements
- improvements for the stadium at the Middle /High School will include adding more bleachers, increasing to 900 seats.
- There will be a Ballot Question in November 2019.
About The November Ballot Question
Move on the recommendation of the Superintendent
Pursuant to N.J.S.A. 18A:7F-5 (d)(9), N.J.S.A. 18A:7F-39 and N.J.A.C. 6A:23A-12.1,The Collingswood Board of Education has determined the need to request additional funds from the voters via a separate proposal to the 2019-2020 budget:
2019-2020 Separate Proposal Summary
Numerous research studies on school-based mental health point to measurable gains in academic achievement, declines in suspension and grade retention, and reductions in typical childhood mental illness such as depression and behaviors associated with conduct disorder and attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder when students who need help have regular access to mental health services as needed. Mental health professionals also serve a role in helping school districts to create a culture within the school of competence, growth and inclusion for all students.
In addition to the regular advertised budget, The Collingswood Board of Education will seek approval from the district’s legal voters to raise an additional $225,000 for counselors/mental health services. The additional levy will provide funds for professional mental health services and will result in a permanent increase in the district’s tax levy. These proposed additional expenditures are in addition to those necessary to achieve the New Jersey Student Learning Standards.
- The question would increase our taxes on average $48.20 per household
First Public Comment Highlights:
No comments during the first public comment.
Appointments For The 2019-2020 School Year
Going into a first reading tonight will be 2431
Homeschooled or nonpublic school children in grades 9-12 who meet the following
requirements are eligible to participate in school district-sponsored programs of
athletic competition of this district. The complete policy is available here.
Buildings, Grounds & Finance Committee Highlights
Committee year goal by the end of the year will be the creation and installation of new signage outside all of the Elementary Collingswood Public Schools
Recap from the Committee of the Whole from the beginning of the meeting:
The BOE discussed how and when the board will select and implement their goals each year
Equity Committee Update: Ms. Kaiden gave an update on activities in the district’s equity committee.
- action steps for the group were shared
- Subcommittees were established
- Mental Health initiative
- Inequities between our elementary schools
- creation of an Education Foundation or “Friends of” to help families with costs of additional programs at the schools Now part 13- with the curriculum committee
the Committee is getting closer to standardized report cards across all of our elementary schools
Something of note in the Curriculum Committee was a project across the second-grade classes of shared readings and student interaction that was facilitated by the classroom teachers
Second Public Comment Highlights
- A resident thanked the BOE for their service and for the projects that allow for extracurricular and enrichment programs. They also asked for clarification why the Tatem Elementary was taken last year. They also shared their frustration about lack of trips to the library and the PTA is starting to organize these walking trips. The resident and parent of a student shared that they feel that this is a situation of inequity for the students at Tatem Elementary School. They are asking for clarification on the decision-making process.
- The BOE directed the commenter to address the issue with the Building’s Administrator Mr. Kulak.
- Another commenter is advocated for school libraries. They are citing the statement from the NJ reports regarding the availability of library services.
- There was a written statement read by this advocate from the Zane Elementary PTA President. They shared that they feel that we need to support elementary school librarians.
- President Henry commented that there needs to be a balance in the benefit of the services and the fiscal responsibility of the district for other programs.
- A school library advocate spoke on behalf of the NJASL https://www.njasl.org/
- President Henry admitted that the Board is responding to priorities shared by the community like school nurses.
- Another member of the community spoke on school libraries. Specifically, if a librarian can be added onto 12.11- the ballot question that would increase taxes past the 2% cap for mental health services.
- Ms. Henry stated that the priorities do come from the members of the community, faculty, and administration.
- A member of the community shared that they feel that there is overlap with the Ballot question with mental health and school librarians. This commenter also asked how they could share the information with the board.
- Ms. Kaiden shared that the board felt that the existing question is a reasonable request from the board of education for an increase in taxes.
- an earlier commenter requested the opportunity to read a letter that was emailed to the board.
- President Henry feels that it is unnecessary for the letter to be read on the record.
- Mr. Waugh shared that the board members do not respond individually to emails sent to the Board members.
- President Henry said again that we do not have the budget for school librarians.
- President Henry and Vice President Kaiden commented that they appreciate the interest in this issue from the public.
- A member of the community emphasized that the work of the librarians would act to support the efforts of licensed therapists.
This member of the community asked if this possibility is something that the board would consider
- Ms. Henry does not want to reword the ballot to include librarians.
- Ms. Kaiden shared a concern that the addition would be disingenuous.
- Dr. Oswald confirmed that this person may attend on May 16th (next meeting of the district’s Equity Committee) to work on the conversation.
- The equity committee will be a part of the steering for the ballot question.
- a written comment from another parent in the community was shared. The statement was specific in how a librarian cannot be substituted with well-meaning caregivers and teachers who are not trained in how to curate a collection.
The next meeting of the Collingswood Board of Education
Monday, May 20, 2019 at 6:30 (Middle School Auditorium, Youth in Government Meeting)