Board of Education meets for October Agenda


Sydney Kaul

Board of Education meets for October agenda and actionable items

Sydney Kaul, Editor-in-Chief

On Wednesday, October 19th, the Somerset Hills Board of Education met for their monthly meeting in the Bernards High School Media Center. Like all other meetings, it was open to the public, for any citizens, students, staff, or parents to attend. The meeting followed the posted agenda, which was posted publicly prior to the meeting. 

Dr. Monica Browne, senior associate for Hazard Young Attea Associated (HYA), shared a breakdown of the district’s superintendent search. With Dr. Dempsey leaving the district in this upcoming Spring, the district began their search and planning now. The search for a new Superintendent is a four step process: Engage, Recruit, Select, and Transition. 

The district is currently in the engage stage where Dr. Browne and her search team are working with the Board of Education to plan for the Search. They will create surveys for the public and conduct interviews & focus groups to gather data on what type of superintendent the district is looking for. 

Once substantial information has been gathered, Browne and her team will move into the recruit stage which will last until approximately November 14th. In this stage, they will interview all board members individually for their input based off of data and then move onto focus groups. They will create leadership profiles and lists of leadership characteristics that the board and public have deemed necessary.

Browne said, “Public input becomes vitally important to the process during this stage in order for us to gauge exactly what type of leadership the district wants and needs.”

Once in the selection phase, Browne and her team will present a slate of the top 10-12 candidates to the board. Once a candidate is selected from this decision, Browne will help the board negotiate a contract with the individual during the transition phase. They will hold a transition meeting with the new person and the Board of Education to establish a foundation. 

Once the report of the Superintendent concluded, the floor opened up to Public input and comments on actionable agenda items. At this time, Scott Laferge, the instrumental music teacher at Bedminster Township School, voiced his concerns regarding the open position for a full-time instrumental music teacher at the high school. 

Laferge shared, “when the superintendent and the Board of Education decided to make the instrumental music teacher part-time, they must have been okay with the possibility that it would diminish the integrity of the program and the high-quality music program that has existed.”

After Mx. Lemley, the previous instrumental music teacher, left the district, there has been part-time substitute teachers filling their position. 

Laferge continues to state, “This program has been revered as a high quality music program. In bedwell, bms, and bedminster, students look forward to participating in the ensemble. And to see how the program, which once thrived and flourished, went from the legacy that Fred Trumpey created to only be reduced to a line item in the budget was heartbreaking.”

For a state of the arts performing arts center and music room, full of opportunities and potential, to be filled with only a part-time teaching position has saddened and angered certain community members. 

Steve Cohen, father of a current BHS student, shared, “We strongly urge that you make this position a full-time position by next year. We want to attract and retain the extreme and unique talent & skill in this district, and that cannot happen with a part-time position.”

Following these voiced concerns regarding a teaching position for the instrumental music, Jim McCarron, Vice President of the Somerset Hills Association, shared his thoughts regarding the district’s new medical plan. In an attempt to budget, the Board of Education is searching for a new medical plan for all staff, which has brought concern to many staff members.

McCarron stated, “I understand that the Board has the right to change medical plans at any given point. It is necessary, however, that the Board recognizes our rights, which have been stated in our contracts. Article 8A7 says you have to maintain our health and medical plan at or better than 2005. If it is not up to this level that is set in our contract we will file grievances.”

When switching medical plans, a common concern is that the new medical plan will exclude benefits or resources from their current plan. McCarron emphasized this concern when stating “What is going to be covered in the new prescription? Are you positive that all of our rightful benefits will be provided? It will be a waste of tax payer dollars if it is not up to or beyond 2005.”

McCarron was the last to speak during the public comment on actionable agenda items, concluding this section of the meeting. The Board then continued onto action VIII, approval of minutes. Action items IX through XVI were then covered. This meeting lasting two hours and twenty minutes, ending at approximately 9:50 P.M..