Agenda: State Board of Education

Code and more code will take up a good portion of the board's agenda this time out

Editor’s note: The State Board of Education’s monthly meeting this week has been rescheduled for Wednesday, November 14.

Date: Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Time: 10 a.m.

Place: New Jersey Department of Education, 1st floor conference room, 100 River View Plaza, Trenton

What they are doing: The State Board of Education has a full agenda, much of it administrative code that it has been reviewing for months about charter schools and teacher quality. But there will also be a few new items, including some personnel additions and changes in the state Department of Education. A new chief academic officer for the state is among the appointments to be voted upon.

More new code: The Christie administration continues to roll out a host of new administrative code aimed to ease some of the red tape slowing down schools, while meeting some of the administration’s policy goals. Last month, it was changes to the rules for teachers once on the job, including professional development requirements. This month, it will be more rudimentary requirements for district operations, including those on student record-keeping.

Personnel changes: The state board will see a half-dozen new appointees presented to it, several of them on the job for months and finally being confirmed. One new name will be Tracey Severns, who will be nominated as the state’s chief academic officer in charge of developing the department’s instructional and curriculum programs. Severns would replace Penny MacCormack, who left the post after a year to become Montclair superintendent. Severns, who was MacCormack’s deputy, is just a year out of being a middle school principal in Mount Olive, where last year she was named the state’s Elementary Principal of the Year.

Reorg of the reorg: Tweaking some functions from his sweeping reorganization of the department a year ago, Cerf will shift responsibilities around a little more. Most notable will be moving student testing from the chief academic officer’s purview to that of the chief performance officer, assistant commissioner Bari Erlichson. Cerf said he will also create a new position of “chief improvement officer,” who will oversee the state’s fledgling Regional Achievement Centers and report directly to the commissioner. The individual to fill the new position has yet to be chosen, Cerf said.

More outside money: The state board will see another resolution for accepting outside foundation money, although use of the grant started more than a year ago. The $118,000 funding from the Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation went to the hiring of two middle management positions in August 2011, but the board never signed off, as is usually required. The move would have likely gone unnoticed, except the board was asked several months ago to approve still more Broad foundation money and questions were raised as to why this wasn’t voted on as well. The foundation’s funding of school reform efforts has been a point of controversy in New Jersey and elsewhere, but the state board’s president, Arcelio Apointe, said he didn’t expect much debate. “This is just to make sure everything is all cleaned up,” he said.