Quote of the DayJanuary 18, 2013
NJ School Choice Summit next SundayJanuary 22, 2013
The Star-Ledger reports that as “part of an effort to heighten school security in the wake of the tragic school shootings in Newtown, Conn., the state Department of Education plans to launch surprise security drills in New Jersey schools.” Also see coverage from NJ Spotlight, the Courier Post, and the Asbury Park Press.
From the NJ Herald: NJ’s Interdistrict Public School Choice Program, which allows kids to cross district boundaries, has “more than doubled in size… Enrollment in the program has grown from 1,000 students in 15 districts in the 2010-2011 school year to 3,400 students in 69 districts in the 2012-2013 school year, according to Department of Education spokesman Richard Vespucci.”
The NJ DOE has begun to correlate student test data to individual teachers (using a measure called “student growth percentiles” of SGP’s). From NJ Spotlight: “The early reaction from a handful of local administrators contacted last week was generally positive. By and large, the administrators said the data looked consistent with their own measures of individual teacher performance, as observed in classrooms and schools.” Courtesy of the DOE, here’s research on SGP’s and a video.
The fiscal impact of charter schools was a hot topic at the Florence Board of Education meeting. An estimate of tuition payments for next year for the three charters in the area comes to $1.6 million, and the district is also challenged by falling ratables, costs of out-of-district special education placements, and increasing health care costs. “District Business Administrator Bruce Benedetti blasted the funding model, saying, ‘The people who are promoting charter schools must not have ever worked in public school finance.’” (Philly Burbs)
Elmwood Park School District has a fiscal monitor because it can’t balance its budget: according to The Record, Superintendent Richard Tonko says a main factor is special education costs, particularly out-of-district placements. “The district currently has about 480 students in special education. Out of those students, approximately 90 are out of district, according to Tomko.”
About two weeks ago the Christie Administration proposed changes to the school funding formula. NJ Spotlight reports that those “plans to adjust the state’s school-funding formula and reduce the extra aid for at-risk students hit another snag yesterday, as Senate and Assembly Democrats took steps to block the changes before the 2014 state budget is even introduced.”
Upper Township in Cape May County is a three-school district that serves 1,200 kids and has eight administrators. A reader wonders why, as reported by the Upper Township Gazette, “the school board unanimously approved Jeff Samniego for the newly created position of Supervisor for Planning, Research and Evaluation effective Tuesday, Jan. 8 at a pro-rated annual salary of $88,000.”
The Record looks at how “school districts are grappling with how to set appropriate boundaries in an age when using social networking sites is almost second nature to teachers and students.”
The Press of Atlantic City reviewed local municipalities and schools districts, finding that some have failed to submit employee contracts to PERC, the state Public Employment Relations Commission.
The Asbury Park Press asks students, parents, and educators to describe their “perfect school.”
Here’s the New York Times on the bussing strike that has mostly affected special needs students:
The strike that began Wednesday, which idled more than half of the city’s school buses and forced about 113,000 children to find new ways to school, was prompted by a fight over union jobs. But its true roots are in an attempt to reform one of the most inefficient transportation systems in the country, one that costs almost $7,000 a year for each passenger, an amount so high that many of those children could hire a livery cab for about the same price. By comparison with the next three largest school districts, Los Angeles spends about $3,200, Chicago about $5,000, and Miami, $1,000.