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What Should the Board of Education's Primary Focus Be for Next Year?

These Parsippany residents share their opinions for the upcoming year.

With the elections this week, Parsippany residents are trying to find the best possible candidate for the job.

This week, we asked residents what topics they feel the Board of Education should focus on for the upcoming year. Opinions were varied, but it’s clear that people have a stance on the subject.

Every day this week, we will bring you an opinion from another resident.

Have your own thoughts on topics that the BOE should focus on?

Ellen April 25, 2011 at 04:51 PM
I don't understand this comment. We currently have 105 students out with out of district placements (http://www.pthsd.k12.nj.us/pdf/2011-2012_Budget_Worksession_2.pdf - slide 14). We have decreased the number over the years by adding special add classrooms within our district and allowing students to be in their home school and many times with siblings. Additionally the current budget has 7 or 8 special ed contingency seats for students who move into the district during the school year to make sure they get everything they need. What more do you want funded?
Joe Casiner April 25, 2011 at 05:05 PM
Choffo is the incumbent, who supported the increase in Seitz' contract. Trapp is a retired teacher who also supports the increase. Let's vote for some honesty & transparency in the BOE and vote in people who will look out for both the students and the taxpayers.
Niki Lipkin April 26, 2011 at 03:26 AM
Going out of district for services is very costly to the taxpayers. One child that I am aware of has a cost of approximately $100,000.00 per year to be serviced out of district. I think the more cost effective and better for the student way to handle this issue is to take that money for all of the 100+ students that are sent out of district and bring them back into the district and hire the appropriate teachers and caregivers for them. Realistically, more than one child can be serviced efficiently and beneficially for under $100,000.00 per year. Those same children can attend a district school where they or their siblings or their parents may know others in their school, even if it is not their home school. Sending the children out of district just makes no sense to me. The costs are so much higher to do so and you send them to towns that are all over the county or even out of county. It seems like that would be something that would be detrimental in the long run for them. I just don't understand why we can't fund the educators and caregivers here in our own district, saving the taxpayers the extra money that the other districts charge us for their specialized educators & caregivers. Why don't we have them here? What am I missing here?
Ellen April 26, 2011 at 02:12 PM
With regard to the Nancy Smith video, this is sooooooo unrealistic. If you would like class size to be 15 or 20 max instead of 25 for grades K-2 you would be looking to hire many more teachers. (my rough guess is 3-4 per school...roughly one per grade and an extra as some grades are larger x 10 elementary schools), while everyone is saying cut the budget this now encourages the hiring or 30-40 teachers. While I too would like to see smaller class size, I wish the public would come forward with realistic expectations.
Sharon Maroldi April 26, 2011 at 06:17 PM
I also watched the video and thought 15 students is an unreasonable number. Public schools are not private schools - there isn't that very individualized, small group setting. Niki's comment is interesting. If the town is paying $100K/year for a single student, there must be a way to make that more efficient. I would like more talk around shared services and resources among the schools - human resources, equipment, etc. In addition, perhaps green initiatives that might be achievable through grants that would result in energy efficiencies.
Ellen April 26, 2011 at 07:10 PM
I am unsure who Niki is speaking about I am sure there are some extraordinary special needs for this student that can't be placed in district. While I find the number astronomical, I do say thankfully my children are healthy and don't need it, I am glad those that need can be helped. The District just completed/installed (as it is obviously ongoing) a solar initiative that is not only green but a big savings for the us!
Sharon Maroldi April 26, 2011 at 07:58 PM
Yes - I'm aware of the solar initiatives, as they are constantly brought up. I would hope that we would continue to pursue grant funding in "hot" areas, as much as possible.
Monica Sclafani April 27, 2011 at 04:14 AM
Hi Niki - I think the cost to the district to bring all our special needs children back in district would be cost prohibitive. There are special needs children that have many different teachers, specialists, equipment that the district just couldn't afford. I also don't think we have the classrooms or the space for what might be required. Why don't you shoot an email to the district's Director of Special Services - I'm sure she'd be happy to give you the complete picture. You can find her email on the district website. Monica
Niki Lipkin April 27, 2011 at 06:02 AM
I will do that, Monica - thanks for the info. I have to say, although, I don't believe all of the 100+ children that are being serviced out of district can be brought back in because of their vastly varying needs, I think that assessments of more of them should be done to save taxpayer monies and relieve budget woes. Of course, I can't speak to all of their needs, but I can't believe that more can't be done. In fact, that is the way the BOE has been trending over the last several years to save money. This is evidenced in their presentation, on their slides, as mentioned on this thread (slides 11 & 14) and as was presented to me. What I am saying is that monies can be used in wiser, thriftier ways. The child I mentioned may be brought back to our district, this decision is up to the parents, as I understand it. I am not trying to take away services from those who need it, just trying to say that in some cases - perhaps several, more children could be serviced here within the district, saving a great deal of money - maybe enough to support some of the programs and personnel previously lost, or to just move forward as is with rising costs. Leaner, smarter choices need to be made and the "big picture" has to be involved in the planning. As far as space for those students goes, I work in some district schools and think wiser decisions regarding space can be made. I'm not attacking or criticizing, I am looking toward long term beneficial solutions.
Niki Lipkin April 27, 2011 at 06:21 AM
Ellen, I'm not sure why who the student is really matters, what I am concerned with is that those that are not in need of "extraordinary measures" and need services that we just aren't yet providing, but possibly could, be brought back to district to save monies. It's about smart spending, not limiting services. And if the cost seems astronomical to you, think of all the services that happen, it's not only tuition, it is also busing for one child each day from driveway to school door and back again. What might that cost be? Quite expensive I am sure, and there are very high tuition costs that we pay for those services out of district. If this child and just one other could be serviced in district in the same manner, it could certainly be done with less expense. Even if you only considered the cost of busing for the 2 children, the savings could be great. I am very thankful that my children are healthy and don't need the special ed services as well, however, I am not talking about denying services to anyone. You obviously don't know me, but I found your comment a bit offensive - that is simply not how I operate. We are in a time when our children's services are being cut in district, I am only proposing ideas that may help alleviate some of those concerns. I don't want my children to lose more than they have already - and I don't want any child that needs services to not get them either. It's simply exchange of ideas & exploration of new avenues.
Monica Sclafani April 27, 2011 at 09:00 PM
Steve - I'm sincerely sorry that you feel you did not get an adequate education in the Special Ed program in our district. However, that does not mean that the entire program is lacking. What didn't work for you might very well be working for someone else.
Monica Sclafani April 27, 2011 at 09:08 PM
Hi Niki - I never thought that you would want to see a child not get the services they need! As already evidenced, there is money to be saved by bringing kids back into the district. I just don't know that we have the space needed! Would love to hear what Suzanne (special services) has to say! Monica
Kimberly Kirstein April 27, 2011 at 10:08 PM
Steve- I follow the posts on Patch and my heart always sinks when I hear you reference your terrible experience. It sounds like someone dropped the ball big time in regard to your experience. Would you mind sharing some of those rules that you were referring to in the post above? Perhaps if you did, we would be able to work toward change.
Ellen April 27, 2011 at 11:05 PM
Steve - I certainly don't want to diminish your feelings as they definitely sound valid especially from other students but I think knowing the big picture is sometimes helpful. For example, my daughter wanted to drop a class. She discussed it with me and I agreed. She went to guidance and was not allowed to drop it without a conference with guidance, myself, the teacher and my daughter. My daughter is probably in the top 25-30% of her class. My point in this is while you needed to meet with the Child Study Team and you see this as a flaw in the system, I think you met with them as they should know you the best. You were not being singled out as "not smart enough" as all students have to participate in a meeting to drop, you just did it with Child Study not Guidance. I am wondering if you are/were aware that all students have a meeting to be sure this is the best decision. The other students behavior is unacceptable and certainly a disciplinary issue but nothing we can blame the district for. Just something to think about

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