Board of Education



Meeting Highlights: Monday February 22, 2016

2016-2017 Budget. The major presentation and discussion at the meeting by

Superintendent Matt Spelker was the second report on the school district budget.

Non-property tax revenue is projected to be about $900,000 (about $49,000 (6%)

larger than 2015, including a $4,600 increase in state aid).

Major expense increases include an about 9% to 11% increase in health benefits (no

increase in dental benefit expenses) and 2.6% increase in Harding Township

Educational Association faculty salaries. The budget currently estimates the local

tax levy to increase overall by 2.9%.

Salaries and benefits for faculty and administration amount to about 80% of the


The discretionary (about 20%) portion of the budget includes funding for a number of

educational and other enhancements, including Honeywell Instant Alert, staff

professional development, curriculum development, and capital improvements (which

will be outlined to the board at a future meeting).

The tentative total budget will be presented to the Board and public on March 21st.

Instruction. Board Vice President John Flynn, Chair of the Curriculum and Instruction

Committee, reported that the details of the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness

for College and Careers (PARCC) tests have not as yet been received. The faculty

does not yet have the necessary results for individual students such that 

individualized guidance could be provided. Mr. Flynn also reported that the Committee was discussing ways of

incentivizing faculty for academic-related grant

writing opportunities, possibly incorporating such a concept in a future union


Personnel and Management. The Board is advertising for a new interim business

administrator. The current interim administrator, Robert Brown, cannot hold this

position for more than two years. The Board expressed its regrets in losing Mr.


Other business. At their second meeting, the Board unanimously approved reading

the changes in eight policies that were reported in the March Thumbnail.

Board President Davor Gjivoje announced that the Three Year District Curriculum

Council Plan would be presented at the March 7th Board meeting. He also announced

that the Board would go into executive session to discuss the Madison sendingreceiving


Meeting Highlights: Monday March 7, 2016

Curriculum. Harding school Principal and Director of Curriculum Mary Donohue

presented the results of a study by the Harding Curriculum Council that began last

October. IN addition to the Principles as Chair, the Curriculum Council is composed

of six faculty covering the elementary school and the middle school, academic areas

including science and social studies, special education, and the President of the Board

of Education, Davor Gjivore.

Focusing on the Harding School mission statement, Ms. Donohue described how the

Council developed a three-year program (to begin in the Fall of 2016) to address and

enhance the non-cognitive skills of students in order to ensure an individual’s longterm

success. The three-year plan addresses “grit, tenacity, and perseverance”.

Ms. Donohue described current educational research as demonstrating that addressing

these three non-cognitive quantities can establish a “growth mindset” in academics

for students. In this growth mindset, students are encouraged, for example, to

embrace challenges, rather than avoid challenges: to learn from constructive

criticism, rather than to ignore useful feedback: to be inspired to do better by others’

successes, rather than to be threatened by others’ success, and to persist despite

obstacles rather than to give up easily due to obstacles.

The monthly curriculum presentation at the April 11th Board meeting will be devoted

to the “Rubicon/Atlas” on-line curriculum management tool. Ms. Donohue will

describe for the Board and Harding public the use of this web-based curriculum

management device in the school, and its importance for Harding education.

Madison sending-receiving contract. Board Vice President John Flynn and

Superintendent Matt Spelker announced the finalization of the Madison sendingreceiving

contract. The Board voted unanimously to accept the contract. Madison

has been the receiving district for Harding high school students since the early 1970s.

This new contract is for six years, covering the 2014-2015 school year retroactively

and extending through the 2019-2020 school year. Financially, the contract

establishes a fixed Harding cost of $1.575M/yea, independent of student numbers, for

the initial three years (including the retroactive 2014-2015 year), and a fixed cost of

$1.6M/year for each of the final three years. (For reference the Madison cost was

$1.647M for the 2013-2014 school year)

In addition to the fiscal terms, Mr. Flynn also remarked that the contract includes

policy changes that enhance the sending-receiving relationship in terms of such

factors as coordination of curricula and tracking the performance of Harding high

school students.

Budget Detailed Harding School 2016-2017 budget presentation will be at the Board

meeting on March 21st. Public hearing on the budget will occur at the Board meeting

on April 25th.

(Note: the purpose of this brief report is to help Harding residents connect with the School by highlighting significant items

addressed by the Board and is not “meeting minutes”. Minutes are filed by the Board Secretary and placed on the Harding

School website for all to view, generally about a month after the meeting date.)




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