Seitz Expected to Discuss Student Achievement
Field of Dreams also likely on Board of Ed agenda meeting at Central Middle School.
The Parsippany-Troy Hills Board of Education will receive an overview Thursday night of what students and faculty are doing at Central Middle School. The school will host the BOE meeting, where student achievement and the Fields of Dreams controversy are expected to take center stage.
The agenda is expected to include a continuation of a presentation by Superintendent of Schools LeRoy Seitz. At the Feb. 9 meeting, he gave board members and citizens an extensive explanation of the possible reasons why 11 Parsippany schools last year failed to meet federal No Child Left Behind benchmarks for achievement on the Scholastic Aptitude Test and the High School Performance Assessment.
The superintendent chalked up what appeared to be disappointing findings by asserting that the test results may not represent what some believe.
Seitz pointed to data showing that benchmarks for testing in Language Arts and Mathematics took a sharp rise for the last school year, making it difficult for students as a whole to reach the targets. However, the superintendent insisted that schools in Parsippany are not failing, a description he said is "unfair to other students who are doing a good job."
"The state has continually raised the bar, changed the test and, within the test, they weight sections differently from year to year," he explained. "Best of all, they don't let us see the test so we can see how they're testing."
Seitz also noted that test scores for non-native English speakers and special-needs students are included in the general pool, which brings down the overall grade average. Taking that into consideration along with the huge benchmark spike, he said things aren't as bad as they may appear in Parsippany schools.
"We're still doing very well," he asserted.
That tone is expected to continue during Thursday's continuation. Seitz said he will present specifics regarding how Par-Troy schools will work toward improving student performance.
The presentation comes after the Obama Administration's Feb. 9 announcement of NCLB waivers for 10 states, including New Jersey.
Also expected Thursday evening: more talk on the Fields of Dreams, the proposed plan for the BOE to cede 51 percent of its control over athletic fields at Parsippany and Parsippany Hills high schools so that the town may use Open Space Trust Fund monies to install artificial turf and other improvements.
The proposal has been the focus of heated debates between residents during the last several BOE meetings and tonight should offer more of the same.
Board President Frank Calabria said the body has come to no conclusion yet over whether it will accede to the wishes of Mayor James Barberio, who is a vocal supporter of the FOD plan.
Calabria told Patch that the body will not be rushed into making a hasty decision.
At Thursday's meeting, the board may also hear from BOE Policy Committee Chairwoman Fran Orthwein on the subject of possible imposition of criminal backgrounds checks for certain school volunteers.
At the last meeting, Orthwein reported that the panel is considering amending Policy 9180, which deals with regular school volunteers, and Policy 9181, which covers volunteer athletic and co-curricular assistants, to call for checks of volunteers and coaches who spend unsupervised time with students.
Board member Deborah Orme noted that the committee's proposed changes could lead some parents to avoid volunteering at their children's schools.
Orthwein said the committee's work on the proposed policy change is ongoing.
Thursday's BOE meeting is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. at Central Middle School.