district_new2 Logo"Getting Better Together"
P.O. Box 181 | Monmouth Junction, NJ | 08852 | Telephone: 732-297-7800
Board of Education The South Brunswick Board of Education holds two regular meetings monthly, which are typically held on Monday evenings. The Board may take action at either meeting. Meetings are held in the auditorium of Crossroads North Middle School, 635 Georges Road, Monmouth Junction and begin at 7:30 p.m., unless otherwise noted. Please note that all meetings will include a confidential Executive session to discuss HIB matters prior to the scheduled Board Meeting. For meetings starting at 7:30 p.m., the Board will convene in Executive session at 7:15 p.m. For meetings starting at 7:00 p.m., the Board will convene in Executive session at 6:45 p.m. All meetings are advertised in local newspapers and, unless noted as confidential, are open to the public.

Board meetings are taped on their scheduled date and then replayed on Viking Television Network, Comcast Cable Channel 28 and Verizon FiOS Channel 36. Check VTN to view the rebroadcast schedule or view the schedule online by clicking here.

Members of the public are encouraged to attend Board meetings and to express their opinions on matters that appear on the meeting agenda or other topics. Time is set aside at each Board meeting for public comment. Although not required, the Board requests that residents who are interested in speaking at a Board meeting register with the Board Secretary’s office prior to the meeting by calling (732) 297-7800, Ext. 3110 and expressing such interest to Marcia Garitano. Residents will be heard during the two portions of the meeting designated for public comment.

Board of Education Meeting Highlights
February 06, 2012
Click here to watch online

With the exception of Mr. Patrick DelPiano, all Board Members were present.Student Representative Report - Victoria Monteiro, Student Representative, reported the following SBHS news:

Report of the Superintendent of Schools Dr. Gary P. McCartney, Superintendent, shared news from around the District:  SBHS 2012- 2013 Course Registration for current 8th grade students has ended.  We thank parents for an outstanding response! Out of 752 students, only 12 have not registered and counselors are working with those families.  Registration for current grades 9-11 students started on February 6 and will close on Friday, February 17 at 3:00 PM.  SBHS will have Open Lab or Help Sessions for parents in need of a computer, internet access or any other registration assistance on Tuesday, February 7 and Thursday, February 9 from 6:30 PM to 8:00 PM in the writing lab. Parents must have their PowerSchool ID and Password to register. Parents should call 732-798-2460 for ID and Password help or contact the student's counselor.

The District Choral Festival will be presented this Thursday, February 9, 2012, 7:00 p.m. at SBHS featuring fifth grade vocalists from each elementary school, the Vocal Ensemble from Crossroads North and South and the SBHS Concert Choir.

Due to the overwhelmingly positive response to the very informative and successful, "Minds of Boys" workshop held in December, the South Brunswick Parent Academy will present "The Minds of Boys Part II: Purposeful Parenting and Helping Our Sons Fulfill Their Potential," on Monday, February 13, 2012, 7-8:30 p.m., at Crossroads North Middle School.  This workshop will engage participants in a discussion and exploration of purposeful parenting: coaching, mentoring and guiding our boys, including several important topics:  breaking the boy code, building the habits of mind for success in life & careers in the 21st century and paving the way from boys to men. As with all SBPA workshops, childcare will be provided.  Interested parties can register online by visiting the District's Web site, www.sbschools.org and clicking the South Brunswick Parent Academy icon or by Emailing SBPA@sbparents.org.   (Please note, childcare is not available for children under the age of 3).

The South Brunswick Parent Academy is a collaboration of the South Brunswick School District and Every Person Influences Children (EPIC).  EPIC is a non-profit organization whose programming is funded in South Brunswick by the South Brunswick Board of Education and a grant from the South Brunswick Municipal Alliance, as part of the NJ Governor’s Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse.

Dr. McCartney proudly shared the following news:  Our SBHS Wind Ensemble has been selected to perform on February 17 as one of six outstanding high school bands at the prestigious 2012 Mid-Atlantic Wind Band Festival to be held at Rutgers University.  Entrance is by adjudication based on submitted recordings reviewed by college-level judges from across the eastern United States.  Dr. McCartney shared the following comment from the invitational letter:  “The instrumental music program in South Brunswick Public Schools has a distinguished tradition of outstanding accomplishments and the program continues to thrive, serving as an outstanding role model for current and future music educators alike.  This can only be attributed to a combination of efforts by teachers, administrators and parents who provide for a fine educational program in order that the student body can continue to attain excellence.”  These remarks unsolicited and from an unbiased source are true testament to everyone involved in our Music Program. Congratulations to our Wind Ensemble!

Please mark your calendars! Friday, February 17: Schools are closed for students while Professional Development is conducted for staff; Monday, February 20: Schools are closed for students and staff in celebration of Presidents' Day.

Kindergarten Registration is scheduled Wednesday, February 22, 2012 (Inclement weather date: Wednesday, February 29) and will take place at our elementary schools.  Please visit our Website for times and other pertinent information.

Dr. McCartney reminded the Board and viewing audience of the upcoming Education Summit scheduled for Thursday, February 23, 7:00 p.m. at Crossroads North.  This is the seventh annual "state of the state of South Brunswick" and District staff and community members are invited to attend. The focus will be on this year’s theme, Building Tomorrow, Today, and each department will report on what it is that they are doing in meeting the mandate of the District’s 2011 – 2012 theme.  For those unable to attend the Summit, tune into Comcast Channel 28 / Verizon FiOS 36 as the presentation will be taped and played periodically. Presentation
Report to the Public of Acts of Violence, Vandalism and Harassment, Intimidation and Bullying (HIB) for the period September 1, 2011 – January 1, 2012
As Dr. McCartney began the presentation, he noted that HIB has been in the news recently.

The New Jersey Council on Local Mandates (created by the Legislature to receive complaints and make judgments) on Jan. 27 declared the state’s Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights to be unconstitutional (unfunded mandate) unless the Legislature provides funding for its implementation.  While there is a 60 day wait period for the decision to be enforced, the position the District has taken is that we totally believe in the nobility of the HIB law, in the requirement for making sure that our schools are free of those kinds of behaviors that are infractions to HIB. This will not change the level of pursuit we have about unacceptable behavior. We are hopeful that as a result of this decision, the state will find ways to either reduce the procedural piece (cumbersome) or find dollars to pay for those expenses that have been created by the law.

Joanne Kerekes, Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction, Bonnie Capes, Director of Professional Development, and Judy McCormick, District Anti-Bullying Specialist, provided the Board with an overview of HIB, how it evolved and the responsibilities of the District in carrying out the mandate.  The HIB Law was enacted in New Jersey in 2002 and was revised twice (2007/to include cyberbullying and 2009 /annual dissemination).  In 2011, a new New Jersey HIB law was enacted (Anti-Bullying Rill of Rights).  The intent of the new law was to strengthen standards for preventing, reporting, investigating and responding to incidents of HIB.

The District took very seriously this new mandate and immediately made plans to put it into place for September 1, 2011.  The Board approved new policy.  As mandated, an Anti-Bullying Coordinator was named as well as Anti-Bullying Specialists assigned to every school in our District.  Training was conducted of all staff including administrators, faculty, secretaries, paraprofessionals, bus drivers, custodians, crossing guards and Board of Education members. Our contracted bus services confirmed the training of all staff.  And then we provided programs for our students at every level and in every school in the District. We conducted expectation assemblies; incorporated HIB information into student lessons; held contests, made school-wide announcements and much, much more. And all this within the first few months of school.

The presentation tonight is a requirement of this new mandate. The Superintendent is required twice a year (for the periods September 1 through January 1 and January 1 through June 30) to provide a public report to the Board of Education of all acts of violence, vandalism and HIB which occurred during the previous reporting period.

The ten types of  "protected categories" were named (race; color; religion; ancestry, national origin; gender; sexual orientation; gender identity and expression; mental, physical or sensory disability; and any other distinguishing characteristics.

Between September 1, 2011 and January 1, 2012, 88 suspected incidents of HIB were investigated district-wide.  Of those 88 cases, 26 were found to be acts of HIB. And of the 26, ten cases were at the elementary school level; five at the middle school level; and 11 at the high school level.  The majority of these cases represented acts of HIB towards “any other distinguishing characteristic” further defined as weight, size, and physical appearance.

It was pointed out that while even one act of HIB is inexcusable, our student body is well over 9,000 and we are encouraged that just a very small number of our students are engaged in these types of behaviors.

The School District has put in place consequences and remedial actions for any student engaged in HIB.  We have moved in a positive direction and believe to have gone above and beyond the written mandate with the many efforts implemented to continue to make our schools safe and caring.  The Presentation is available for your review.

Finally, the message of HIB and how it affects our children was driven home with a moving rendition by a group of South Brunswick High School students of Don’t Laugh at Me, a song written by Steven Seskin.  Included in the performance were original verses to the song written by our own SBHS students.  This very same performance, by over sixty students from across the District, was presented to our staff during our October 2011 HIB training.

Board Members thanked administration as well as our anti-bullying coordinator, specialists and school climate teams for their diligence. The Board is aware of the incredible time and effort our entire staff is engaged in on behalf of this new mandate.

For your information, you may view Guidance for Schools on Implementing the Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights Act supplied by the NJ Department of Education and currently at our Web site. Board Discussion
Legislation P.L. 2011, Chapter 202 – Establishing the Election of Members of the South Brunswick Board of Education as the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November
Dr. Parker, Board President, explained that this evening the Board would enter into a discussion regarding new legislation allowing boards of education to change the election date of school board members from the third Tuesday in April to the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November (the General Election).  This action requires the adoption of a resolution by the Board. (Because of election timelines, New Jersey Boards of Education must make a decision by February 17, 2012.)  Further, if adopted, the election date would remain in effect for four years.  As long as the 2% tax cap is not exceeded, it would also eliminate the annual voter referendum on the proposed general fund tax levy.

Board members commenting on the new legislation noted that approval to move the election to November would result in a cost savings for the District.  For example, the cost to the District to hold the 2011 – 2012 Board/Budget election was approximately $36,000.  Additionally, members noted that voter turnout is always greater in the general elections as opposed to the Board/Budget election, another benefit to moving the date.

Discussion about the elimination of the annual voter referendum on the proposed budget ensued. Some board members voiced concern that the public would no longer be able to participate in a budget vote. However, it was agreed that together with District administration, proposed budgets are always scrutinized very carefully.  Dr. McCartney remarked that we have demonstrated incredible accountability in doing more with less.  The tax levy has not changed in three years. Our budgets are always prepared keeping in mind what is best for our students and at the same time the interests of our community.  We have saved programs; we have trimmed programs.  Unfortunately, at the same time we have had to reduce our staff.   We have instituted creative ways to make sure that this community is kept in balance in terms of their ability to pay.   We have instituted “Pay to Participate” as a way of preserving programs by asking users to support them.  Dr. Parker noted it is the responsibility of board members to provide the best education this community can afford whether or not a vote on the budget is held. Public Comments A parent thanked Dr. McCartney, the Board and everyone in the District who had a part in providing her children with a good education. A resident commented on the legislation discussed earlier including the Budget given no vote would be necessary if kept under the 2% cap.  The resident also commented on HIB and how parents could help. Board Committee Reports None were offered.

The Board unanimously approved establishing the election of Members of the South Brunswick Board of Education as the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November.

The meeting was adjourned. Our next Board of Education meeting is scheduled for Monday, February 27, 2012, 7:30 p.m., at Crossroads North Auditorium, 635 Georges Road.