BOARD OF EDUCATION
Board of Education Meeting Highlights: December 12, 2016
This meeting was held at the earlier time of 6pm in order to allow all
present to attend the Harding Municipal Building open house tour
showcasing the recent upgrades to the facility which commenced at 7:30,
the usual time for the Board of Education meeting.
This was Dr Howard Kotkin’s final Board meeting, having served with
distinction for the last two years. Accordingly, he was recognized by the
Superintendent and the Board President for his outstanding service. A
plaque showing the school sign and the citation was presented, along with
many eloquent and heartfelt words of appreciation. He will be replaced
this January by newly elected Mr. Bruno, who was in the audience.
It was reported that the recently held Pancake Breakfast fundraiser was
exceptionally well attended.
A grant application submitted at the initiative of the Business
Administrator was awarded by the No Child Left Behind program which will
fund a new teaching position for the Leveled Learning Intervention
Program, a value to the District of about $40,000.
The Board also approved “a day of service” whereby the students would
participate in various volunteer service opportunities. Although this had
always been done on an ad hoc basis in the past, this year the school is
implementing a comprehensive, coordinated and school-wide effort,
developed by the School’s Principal/Director of Curriculum, Ms. Mary
Donohue. The assignments are as follows:
Grade 2 – Cora Hartshorn Arboretum, Short Hills
Grade 3 – Grow it Green, Morristown
Grades 4 & 5 – PG Chambers School, Cedar Knolls
Grade 6 – Community Soup Kitchen
Grades 7 & 8 – Community Food Bank, Hillside
Meeting Highlights: Meeting November 28,2016
Exemplary Elementary Educator. Jennifer Baldassari, Middle School
Language Arts teacher was honored by the New Jersey Department of
Education as a 2016 Exemplary Elementary Educator. The Harding Board
of Education honored Mrs. Baldassari at its meeting with a unanimous
Motion that recognized her “ability to inspire students of all backgrounds
and abilities to learn, for her clear vision of quality teaching and learning,
and for her strong educational knowledge and skill.” Superintendent Matt
Spelker presented her with the State Department of Education Certificate
for this significant honor. In attendance at the meeting honoring Mrs.
Baldassari were her husband and two children, many Harding faculty, and a
number of parents including the President of the Harding PTO Cathleen
Facilities and Finance. The school auditor, Mr. Tim Vrabel of TMVrabel
Associates (school auditor since 2008), presented, and the Board accepted,
the Comprehensive Annual Financial Report for the fiscal year ending 30
June 2016. There were no Recommendations arising from the audit. Of
particular interest to the Board and public was that the capital reserve at
$471K remains very solid.
Facilities and Finance Committee chair Howard Kotkin reported that
preliminary budget work for the 2017-2018 fiscal year was beginning. The
Committee is also revising the facilities plan.
Personnel and Management. Committee chair Kim Macaulay reported
that preparations are underway for faculty contract negotiations.
Superintendent Report. Superintendent Matt Spelker reported that he
was continuing articulation sessions with the Madison Superintendent, with
the most recent occurring on 17 November. These will continue with the
Madison Interim Superintendent once that person has been selected,
following the departure on 30 November of the current superintendent for
the Sparta school district.
Mr. Spelker also reported that a joint Harding school/Harding Township
Health Officer discussion on the opioid problem is scheduled for 5
December. The Township now contracts its Health Officer from the Morris
County Health Department.
Executive Session. The Board entered into Executive Session to discuss
(a) Madison personnel and (b) Harding faculty contract negotiations.
Board of Education Meeting Highlights: November 14, 2016
Sometimes it just happens that a number of good things about our District
come to light at the same time, helping us realize just how excellent our
schools and their people really are. And this was the situation at this
First, the Principal presented the Teacher Mentoring Plan whereby each
new teacher in our District is assigned a Mentor who interacts to provide
insight and guidance of how things are at Harding – a valuable experience
of support and encouragement. This program has been well received and
contributes to the high spirit and camaraderie of the faculty.
Second, Andrew Novotny, a Harding alumni and now a Senior at Madison
High, presented his Eagle Scout Project which was to establish an “Outdoor
Learning Pavilion” on the Harding school grounds so that science students
can spend more time outdoors in real contact with the actual material of
their study. This project was quite involved as building permits, plans,
materials, and coordination were needed to really make this happen.
Presently, all seems on track for groundbreaking in early January. Andrew
developed this project as a way of “giving back” to his school and
community – making everyone present feel quite proud.
Next, it was reported that the Harding Township Board of Education was
awarded the Carol E. Larson "Master Board" certification by the New Jersey
School Boards Association. During the course of the ten years that this
award has been in place, only 13 Boards of Education – out of over 580
Boards in the State of New Jersey – have ever received this prized
Then, it was reported that Mrs. Jennifer Baldassari, a third grade teacher
at the Elementary School, was recognized as an Exemplary Elementary
Educator for 2016 by the New Jersey Department of Education. She is one
of only eighty recipients state-wide (out of over 100,00 elementary school
teachers) to receive this distinguished award. Board will present this award
to her at the November 28th Board of Education meeting.
Now for the report of the PARCC situation. This is the second year of the
program and Harding has adjusted quite well as you will note below
compared with other schools in New Jersey:
Out of 1,344 elementary schools Harding moved up 84 spots from
2015 and is now ranked 29th!
Out of 706 middle schools, Harding moved up 262 spots from 2015,
and is now ranked 17th!
Harding Township School District is now ranked 14th in the State out
of 609 districts, moving up 133 spots from 2015.
Well, that was the big news of the night. Looking ahead for those
interested in the school budget, the financial audit will be presented at
the next meeting, November 28th.
(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 are not “meeting minutes”. Those 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.)