In his opening statement at Monday night’s New Providence Board of Education meeting, Superintendent David M. Miceli wasn’t lying when he said there was “quite a bit on the agenda this week.”
The Board received a $62K check from the New Providence Educational Foundation — made possible through funds raised at the annual , direct solicitation of households in town, and a variety of other events — which will assist the district with funding special-requested grants from teachers.
The Board also met the new Head Football Coach at New Providence High School, approved the submission of the tentative budget for the 2012/13 school year to the County Superintendent, and reviewed presentations from several teachers within the district, among other items.
Proposed School Budget
The Board approved the submission of the tentative budget for 2012/2013 school year, authorizing the Secretary to the Board of Education to submit the tentative budget to the Executive County Superintendent of Schools for approval in accordance with statutory deadline.
The $35,626,115 million tentative budget includes a total increase of $3.4 million. The total tax levy is $32,399,731, up nearly $1.7 million from the last fiscal year.
The budget included, which was announced on Feb. 24 by Gov. Chris Christie. This amount is up from the $645,220 aid received last year.
Finance committee chairman Adam Smith said the difference, $196,000, would be split between taxpayer relief and the completion of a bleachers project.
“The opportunity to reduce tax impact drops approximately 20 percent with additional state aid,” he said.
Despite the increase, board member Ira Krauss said by law, the district should actually be getting $1.6 million from the state based on it’s own formula.
“The district is still getting shortchanged by the state,” he said.
Miceli said there would be a public hearing on March 22, pending county recommendations.
New Head Football Coach Approved
Miceli submitted his recommendation of Joseph Carollo as the new Head Football Coach at NPHS, which board members approved.
The need for a new coach came after former Head Coach Art Cattano stepped down in late December to focus solely on working as the boys' head basketball coach.
Carollo is a history teacher at Verona High School, where he was also the defensive coordinator for the football team.
Miceli said the process began with publicly advertising and reviewing all candidates’ resumes. A committee performed an initial round of interviews and finalists were submitted to Principal Casarico.
Carollo was present at the meeting and shook hands with board members.
iPad Pilot Program
Sandra M. Searing, Director of Curriculum, Instruction, and Supervision, presented a positive District Curriculum Report regarding the first phase of a plan to bring twenty-first century skills into the classrooms.
Searing said the district took a big risk 5 years ago, when there was not much data.
“Technology as we all know is changing the way students learn,” she said. “We are trying to pull ourselves out of our comfort zone so we can give the students every advantage.”
Searing said in thinking about what would replace old laptops, department heads knew it would not be the same thing.
“We knew it would be mobile. Tablets were around but not a very big thing at that point,” she said. “Tablets have really moved forward. We were trying the iPads, Kindles, Kindle Fires and trying to make a determination about what direction we're going to go. We started moving forward slowly thanks to the generosity of organizations in town, private donors, and we were able to bring iPads into the classroom and really saw everything take off.”
Sandra Andersen, Head of the Interdisciplinary Technology Department, elaborated on the district’s iPad Pilot program in middle school and high school classrooms.
“It really did [take off] right from beginning… right into our district initiative,” she said.
Andersen explained that there are two cohorts: first is the collection of teachers who received a single iPad to use for ongoing collaboration; the second includes teachers who received 25 iPads at a time, which go into their classroom to be used for a 2-week period (kids in one class at a time use the iPads for 40 minutes of instruction during a teacher-chosen unit). She said the pilot is ongoing until June 2012.
Michael Mitchell, a Japanese Teacher at NPHS, was supportive of the tool.
“My students do performance tasks like this all the time using 3 or 4 devices," Mitchell said, referring to tasks shown in a video at the meeting. "The iPad does everything… taking pictures, shooting video, editing, uploading to YouTube."
But Mitchell did express concern with synching the iPads with student’s computers at home.
Jonathan Keaney, a physiology teacher at NPHS, said the iPads led to an increase in student achievement this year.
“I found it [to be a] very positive experience,” he said.
Miceli said that if the district decides to move forward with this project, personalization like student email accounts might be considered and student responsibility would be key.
“It’s a reality of the world we live in,” he said. “Most kids today have some sort of individual device that they currently use.”