January 2020 Spotlight

winter break

Mark your calendars for the following dates:

  • Wednesday, January 1st  - School Closed – New Year’s Day
  • Wednesday, January 8th- 7:30 PM Education Foundation (EFLS) Meeting – Point Road
  • Thursday, January 9th – 7:00 PM Board of Education Reorganization Meeting
  • Friday, January 17th12:30 Dismissal – Staff Professional Development
  • Monday, January 20th  – School Closed  - Martin Luther King Day
  • Thursday, January 23rd  – 7:00 PM  Board of Education Meeting  

                    Department of Education logo

New Jersey Department of Educaiton Released Social Emotional Learning Module

The New Jersey Department of Education (NJDOE) recently released the first of six modules on Social and Emotional Learning (SEL). Through implementation of these modules, schools can expect to:

  • Increase their content knowledge and recognize best practices for implementing SEL
  • Become safer and more engaging spaces
  • See a decrease in at-risk student behaviors such as bullying, chronic absenteeism, and substance use
  • Note improved academic performance from students
  • Observe increases in students’ preparedness for work, college, and life

The modules are designed as a turnkey program where educators can take their professional learning about SEL to then support the SEL growth of their students.  Learn more about the NJDOE’s Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) resources.

School Funding Plan

Does the New Plan to Fix NJ State Aid Help Little Silver?  The Answer is NO.

On July 1, 2019, many New Jersey School districts faced cuts in State Aid.  Little Silver was not one of them.  That said, due to the fact that the State has failed to fully fund the School Funding Formula over the course of years, between 2015 and 2020, Little Silver did not receive the almost $2.3 million dollars that we were calculated to receive based on the State’s own Funding Formula.  While State Aid represents only 3.8% of our total budget, we received $492,709 in Fiscal Year 2019.  For this Fiscal Year 2020, we received $548,335, or a total increase of $55,626.  The increase represents less than 1% of our approximate $16 million dollar budget, an increase of any kind is certainly better than a loss. 

Over the past several years, I have proposed legislative alternatives to provide districts like ours financial relief.  Little Silver is essentially a locally-funded district.  For this 2019-2020 school budget (FY20), tax payers assumed 93.8% of the total cost to run the district. The inability to extend our budget beyond 2% has been crippling, resulting in a decrease of administrative positions, general education positions, support staff positions, and custodial positions.  As a financially responsible district with a low per pupil cost, when the 2% property tax cap was imposed, we had little room for cuts as compared to other districts whose per pupil cost was significantly higher.  I have lobbied the legislature to consider providing support for special education funding that would alleviate district spending including:

  1. Fully funding extraordinary special education so that school districts do not have to cover the entire cost to educate those special education students with greater needs.
  2. Eliminating the current census approach to calculating special education funding based on a 2010 census and return to a system where money follows our most vulnerable students based on live counts.
  3. Funding special education fairly and equitably based on students’ needs and not based on the students’ districts and their ability to pay.

We have seen some movement in increasing funding for extraordinary special education aid, but no movement, as of yet, in eliminating the census approach to calculating special education funding OR on removing the “wealth indicator” that penalizes Little Silver’s calculation for Special Education State Aid (different from Extraordinary Aid). 

In recent years, I have lobbied for the Legislature to create a waiver that would enable School Districts to extend the 2% cap based on special education increases. That HAS NOT come to fruition. However, the concept of extending the cap beyond 2% is now being realized via a proposed bill that would allow Boards of Educations to raise taxes beyond the cap without voter approval IF the district lost State Aid AND is below adequacy.  See S4289.  Neither scenario applies to Little Silver. 

While more than 190 school districts may be able to raise taxes as much as they want to make up for school funding losses, Little Silver IS NOT one of them.  Districts that have received more than their “fair share” for decades are now facing cuts.  As a result, the Legislature wants to ensure that students do not suffer.  Funding formulas tend to create “winners and losers.”  While Little Silver realized a small increase in State Aid and a nominal increase in Extraordinary Aid, those revenues did not cover our expenditures.  Little Silver IS a district that is being targeted for consolidation.   Read more regarding the renewed push to eliminate 275 NJ School Districts, including Little Silver.

For a sample letter to send to Senator Declan O’Scanlon (senoscanlon@njleg.org) and Assemblywoman Serena DiMaso (aswdimaso@njleg.org)  to advocate for fair funding.

Exemptions from Immunizations

Statutory Exemptions from Mandatory Immunizations for Students 

In the spring of 2018, the New Jersey Legislature introduced bills (Senate bill S-2173 in March 2018 and the Assembly version A-3818 in April 2018) concerning exemptions from mandatory immunizations for students.  In short, the initial bill would only let children skip immunizations based on medical reasons, removing the religious exemption as a reason parents can refrain from having their children vaccinated.  New Jersey law required that students in public and private schools must be vaccinated for a list of diseases unless they claim that doing so would be medically risky or that it violated a religious tenet in which they believe. Recent measles outbreaks caused the legislature to revisit parameters for exemptions. 

The New Jersey Association of School Administrators (NJASA) asked the bill sponsors of S-2173 to include an amendment so the effective date is the onset of the 2020-2021 school year to provide both districts and parents with more implementation time to make informed decisions in a timely manner.  The S-2173 was voted out of the Senate Health Committee with amendments and was scheduled for a floor vote on Monday, December 16, 2019 in the Senate.  There is no word yet on whether it will be voted on after the holidays. 

Did you know graphical image

Did you know that “communication” continues to be identified as both an “area of strength” and an “area of growth” for the district, based on survey results?  The district disseminates a tremendous amount of information for public consumption. 

The information on the district website, http://www.littlesilverschools.org, contains information such as:

  • Department & program information
  • School information
  • Board of Education information

The district calendar is a Google calendar that can be easily downloaded from the website.

The district uses Facebook and Twitter to post information including:

The Genesis Parent Portal is our primary source of communication!  It includes: School Posts, Class Posts, Guidance Posts, Grade Level Posts, Sports Posts, etc.  Feedback from surveys suggests that some parents are not utilizing our communication vehicles, nor are they logging on to the Genesis Parent Portal to view Report Cards.  As human beings, we are hardwired to want things – now!  Instant gratification is fueled by modern devices and information exchange.  There’s nothing wrong with wanting or needing information in a timely manner. However, it is not feasible for all school communication to be a single click away.  We provide access to a tremendous amount of information.  We respectfully ask that as our partners in education, you take the time to read what we provide. 

If you have not already downloaded the Genesis app, this will provide you with fast access to the Genesis Parent Portal.  There is a Genesis app for i-Phone and Android users. 

Genesis Mobile "G" logo   i-Phone Users

  1. Click on Safari or the web browser on your i-Phone
  2. Enter the parent portal address in the URL window https://parents.genesisedu.com/littlesilver/parents?gohome=true
  3. Press “Go”
  4. You will now be at the mobile Genesis Parent Portal website
  5. Click the download button Download image
  6. Click the button – Add to Home Screen
  7. You can now see the Genesis app on your mobile desktop

Genesis Members image  Android Users

  1. Click on the Chrome web browser on your Android
  2. Enter the parent portal address in the URL window https://parents.genesisedu.com/littlesilver/parents?gohome=true
  3. Press “Go”
  4. You will now be at the mobile Genesis Parent Portal website
  5. Click the three dots  Vertical ellipses
  6. Click the button – Add to Home Screen
  7. When Add to Home screen – Genesis Mobile comes up – click ADD
  8. You can now see the Genesis app on your mobile desktop