Millburn School Board to Seek Improvements
The board discusses the results of its evaluation with a representative from the state's School Board Association and came up with an action plan.
The Millburn School Board should create a strategic plan with input from a cross-section of the community, recommended a representative from the New Jersey School Boards Association.
Gwen Thornton spoke to board members Monday night and urged them to get a variety of opinions, even those of students. Thornton reminded the board they, "were elected to serve the needs of every child," in any school, whether it be private, public or a charter school.
Her recommendations came after the board conducted a self-evaluation. "Clearly this is a very high performing school district and it's a credit to its administrators, staff, parents and students," Thornton said.
There were few problems both Thornton and the board pointed out. The three issues that spurred debate were:
- Confidentiality of items discussed in executive session.
- Ability to work more effectively together as a board.
- Defining the role of a board member.
The board discussed many instances which a board member broke the confidentiality in executive sessions and then made it difficult to serve the community. "We feel we cannot function effectively because we can't speak freely," board member, Rona Wenik said.
Jeff Waters explained in executive session some of the most important decisions are discussed, such as teacher contracts, and board members talking about that outside of executive session work against the board.
"When I took this position I inherited 5,000 kids, however I feel that is not every board members feeling," board president, Michael Birnberg, said. "I feel there are members of the board that have agendas that kids are not first."
Thornton suggested an ethics workshop for all board members. She explained that issue of confidentiality is difficult and it is important for the board to work together.
"No one [in the public] cares who the leak is," Thornton said. "All they see is a board that doesn't work effectively."
Thorton also suggested one other workshop where the role of board member is defined.