School Officials Can Breathe Again…

…because it’s looking more and more unlikely that local districts will have to start up full day preschools for poor 3 and 4-year-olds this September. NorthJersey reports that This week, Education Commissioner Lucille Davy said unless federal funding for preschool finds its way to New Jersey, the governor’s plans to enroll all low-income children in the state will be put on hold. This is no surprise — it’s hard to imagine Davy and the DOE …

Load ‘Em On

The Star-Ledger reports that the Senate Education Committee approved a pilot program for six schools to begin a mandated basic finance course for high school seniors — stuff like balancing a check book, applying for a mortgage, and managing credit card debt. The approval was in spite of objections from Democrat Jim Whelan, who had concerns about jamming all these new requirements into the school day, and the NJEA, who said that these sort of …

Keansburg Newsflash

Newsday reports that the State Superior Court has refused to dismiss the State’s challenge to the lavish severance package of former Keansburg Superintendent Barbara Trzeszkowski. Trzeszkowski had formally requested that the Court dismiss the suit. Anne Milgram, Attorney General of New Jersey, has filed suit to recover $560,000 of Trzeszkowski’s $740,000 payout from Keansburg, an Abbott district overseen by the DOE.

Bill Gates on Tenure

Bill Gates, in his 2009 Annual Letter from the Gates Foundation (here), is candid about some failures in his education initiatives, specifically in regard to smaller high schools which didn’t improve student achievement “in any significant way.” The reasonable assumption was that smaller was better, that smaller groups of students would lead to a higher degree of curricular differentiation and achievement. What got in the way? According to Nicholas Kristof’s summary of the letter in …

Sunday Leftovers

Monmouth and Ocean Potential Merger: State Sen. Sean Kean and Assemblyman David Rible, both Republicans from Monmouth County, held a public forum this past Tuesday at Sea Girt Elementary School to discuss school consolidation in Monmouth and Ocean Counties. The Asbury Park Press reports that the 75 people there expressed concern that the threatened closing of non-operating districts and regionalization of small districts is “just political” and would not save any money. Meredith Wong, President …

Davy to the Rescue

While New Jersey’s economy sinks and public school districts struggle to put together budgets without any certainty about State aid numbers, Education Commissioner Lucille Davy has come to the rescue. Our very own Caped Crusader issued a letter last week addressed to all districts ordering a freeze on all “non-essential and discretionary” spending. Gotham is safe! Well, maybe not. What exactly are districts going to freeze? The Bridgeton News quotes Millville Business Administrator Bryce Kell: …

The Consolidation Cha-Cha

Now that Executive County Superintendents have been ordered by the DOE to issue reports by March 2010 for consolidation of school districts, there’s lots of chatter regarding these threats to home rule. Over the last few days, we’ve seen reports about potential mergers in Somerset Hills and Bedminster in Somerset County; Bradley Beach, Lake Como, Interlaken and Allenhurst in Monmouth County; and Seaside Heights, Seaside Park and Island Heights in Ocean County. There’s a stylized …

More Wasser Shenanigans

The Asbury Park Press reports that public enmity has not cooled towards Freehold Regional High School District’s Superintendent, James Wasser. Already vilified for three-card-monte-ing his way to a salary bonus by submitting paperwork alleging completion of a doctorate from a diploma mill, he’s now getting blasted for tooling out to California for a national conference and for using a district-owned SUV. The April school board elections in Freehold should be, uh, interesting.

Bad Forecast for Schools

The Star-Ledger’s Paul Mulshine, official curmudgeon and prognosticator, takes on Corzine’s reluctance to cap property taxes and predicts that school districts will see big State aid reductions with local taxpayers picking up the balance: I’ll grant the governor is a better numbers man than I am. But I can’t see how he can balance next year’s budget without cutting billions in aid to school boards and municipalities. And I also can’t see how he can …

Somerset Hills/Bedminster Merger?

In a lukewarm try at consolidation, Somerset Hills (2,100 kids K-12) and Bedminster (600 kids, K-8) are looking once again at regionalization. The two Somerset County districts have done feasibility studies before, most recently in 2003, and there were no obvious economies of scale. But, given the mandates from the DOE, they are giving it another go. What are the odds? In the last 23 years, reports the Star-Ledger, there have been three consolidations among …