Goal-Setting Up for Discussion at Long Beach Island School Board Meeting

Sep 12, 2018

Among the items expected to be discussed at the Long Beach Island Consolidated Board of Education meeting next week is setting goals for the current school year. When the discussion first arose last month, the board was divided on whether it was necessary to take such action.

“We’re going to do it anyway,” veteran board member Bonnie Picaro said. “We don’t have to have them.”

Board Attorney Anthony P. Sciarrillo, of the law firm Sciarrillo, Cornell, Merlino, McKeever & Osborne of Westfield, agreed. However, the New Jersey School Boards Association is clear that the role of a school board is to “set the policies, goals and objectives for the district – and it holds the superintendent responsible for implementing the policies and achieving the goals.”

In fact, the state association offers school boards an opportunity to “take goal-setting to the next level by inviting members of your community to participate in the process,” according to its online resources for strategic planning.

To help facilitate that, dues-paying districts can request that a field service representative attend a planning workshop to help the district identify strengths and weaknesses, target critical issues, prioritize and implement annual goals and objectives, and identify appropriate roles and responsibilities as well as create a process for monitoring and evaluating progress. Strategic planning is a fee-based service.

Before the discussion was tabled, Superintendent Peter J. Kopack had some ideas for the district’s goals, and noted setting goals “helps guide us.”

Instead of voting on goals Aug. 21, the board voted to come back to the table Sept. 18 with a list of goals.

To Picaro’s point, the board does have to make decisions about how to proceed with the LBI Grade School repairs. Tom Beatty, a Long Beach Township representative who is up for re-election in November, said he would like to see a goal that encompasses all long-range facility plans for the district.

“I feel like we’re moving the ship forward with fixing the school,” said James Donahower, board president.

The board did set goals for the 2017-18 school year, though after a lengthy debate it agreed to alter its number one priority from planning for the transition of LBI Grade School students and staff to the Ethel A. Jacobsen School, which was expected to begin this month, to focusing on reviewing and reassessing its goal for consolidation. The discussion came after voters in three Island communities voted down the $18.4 million referendum to expand and renovate the E.J. School. —G.G.S.

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