Agenda: Start of New School Year Brings Familiar Topics

John Mooney | September 1, 2015 | Education
Newark schools and review of state standards back before state board, as well as more routine matters

state seal
Date: Wednesday, September 2, 2015
Time: 10 a.m.
Where: New Jersey Department of Education, 1st-floor conference room, 100 River View Plaza, Trenton

What they are doing: The State Board of Education’s first meeting of the new school year will hear further presentations on two ongoing sagas in the state: the status of the Newark public schools and the review of New Jersey’s state standards to replace the Common Core. The board will also mark the tenure of outgoing member Claire Chamberlain, as well as take up several code revisions on student support and budget accountability.

Newark update: The board will get another update on the latest chapter in the operation of the state-controlled Newark schools. The new superintendent, former State Commissioner Chris Cerf, may come before the board, although with the start of school this week, officials said he also may make a written presentation. Key topics will be progress in the opening of schools, as well as developments in the state’s monitoring of the district and the promised transition to local control.

State standards: The board has also requested monthly updates on the administration’s review of standards to replace the Common Core State Standards, eschewed by Gov. Chris Christie this summer in his quest for the White House. Assistant commissioner Kimberley Harrington will make the presentation, including the state’s new website and online surveys to gather public input on the standards.

Chamberlain exit: Chamberlain was named to the board in 2011 in a wave of new appointments by Christie that tilted the balance of power of the board. The shift didn’t deliver the drama that some folks expected, but nonetheless, she helped cement some key Christie initiatives, including Cerf’s appointment in Newark. That was among her last acts, and her departure now leaves the board three members short of its full complement.

Routine code: The board will also mark the final adoption of two new pieces of code for student support services and fiscal accountability. Both are key regulations, but these revisions are largely routine to meet new state statute and federal law, officials said.

Special services expansion: The board will also act on resolutions to allow another special services district to serve students outside of its assigned county. The board already approved such measures for Middlesex and Passaic this summer, and Camden County’s education services district is the next up.

Public comment: The board’s meeting will also hold a rare public comment period in the afternoon on any topics people want to talk about.