Board of Education Meeting Highlights February 8, 2016
Curriculum: The majority of the meeting was devoted to a presentation of the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) by the Middle School science supervisor, Dr. Michael Gervis, and the Principal and Director of Curriculum, Mary Donohue. The NGSS have been under development for a number of years, and represent the first change in such standards for over 15 years. The framework for the NGSS is a report (A Framework for K-12 Science Education, National Academies Press, Washington, DC, 2012) from the National Research Council (a body of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine) that was supported by the National Academies, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the National Science Teachers Association, and underwritten by corporations and foundations that included Cisco, General Electric, the Carnegie Foundation, and DuPont. The Chair of the Report was Professor Helen Quinn, a physicist of Stanford University, and the 18-member Report Committee included two Nobel Prize winners. The Report was thus not a governmental development, and is not a “common core curriculum” element, although there are connections to it. The standards established, based upon the Report were developed after much public input, with 26 states participating in the development. At present 13 states are implementing the standards, including New Jersey. Other states are in the process of implementing or considering doing so.
The Report and the standards incorporate for the first time “Engineering, Technology, and Applications of Science” as disciplinary core content, in addition to the classical core content areas of “life sciences,” “physical sciences,” and “earth and space sciences.” In addition to the core subject content, the Report and the NGSS incorporate emphasis on “scientific and engineering practices” and on “crosscutting concepts,” – that is, seeing and understanding relationships among core content concepts and employing these for “practice”/problem solving.
There was substantial discussion by the Board of the NGSS, with several members of the public, including parents, participating. Considerable discussion involved the importance of science and engineering education not just for those students who may become technical professionals, but for all students, because of the rigorous and analytical thinking and analysis that is fostered by a strong science program in schools. That is, science is not just a body of knowledge, but a process and a way of discovery and understanding. The next monthly curriculum presentation will be on the topic of the District Curriculum Council’s 3-year plan. This presentation by Principal Mary Donohue will be at the Board’s March 7th meeting.
Superintendent’s Report: Superintendent Matt Spelker reported that state law mandates a twice-a-year report to the public of any instances of violence and vandalism, and of any cases of Harassment, Intimidation, and Bullying. For the six months of July through December 2015 there were no incidents in the Harding School of any of the categories covered.
The Superintendent’s Report and the NGSS material presented by Dr. Gervis and Ms. Donohue, are posted on the school website: www.hardingtwp.org. School Budget: The Board at its March 21st meeting will adopt the school budget.
Policy Matters: Seven modifications to Board policies were introduced for first reading. Five of these modifications were minor date changes to evaluation policies for all employees of the district. Two modifications were mandatory by state law to family leave policies for military service situations. A new policy was introduced for first reading on the notification and registration of any service animals that might be needed by anyone in the school.
Board President Report: The Board President, Davor Gjivoje, announced that the Midyear Evaluation of the Superintendent had been completed, as well as the Midyear District Goals as related to the Superintendent’s performance. President Gjivoje also noted that the sending-receiving contract with Madison is nearing completion.