Dept. Heads Talk Staffing At Brick BOE

School board officials heard from three department heads as part of the ongoing budget process for Brick schools. (Photo by Judy Smestad-Nunn)

BRICK – Among the budget requests presented to the Brick school board: the school district’s director of curriculum suggested adding teachers for classes such as dance and sign language, while the human resources department recommends filling vacancies for a chemistry teacher and technology staff.

The Curriculum & Instruction Department, the Human Resources Department and the Transportation Department presented their budgets at the April 6 Board of Education meeting in preparation for a Special Budget hearing scheduled for April 27.

Director of Curriculum Susan McNamara listed focus areas for continuous improvement and professional development for the district.

Her recommendations included hiring a number of new teachers, including a dance teacher for each high school, a leadership position for humanities, an American Sign Language teacher for each high school, and more.

“American Sign Language provides students with the five credits needed to meet their graduation requirement in world language, and an increasing number of colleges and universities are accepting American Sign Language for their foreign language admission requirements,” McNamara said.

New instructional material for programs, including a reading program (Read180/System 44 Next Generation) for grades 2-5, AP instructional materials, an Anatomy & Physiology course, Marine Biology Honors, World Religions, and Introduction to Marketing would cost $558,864.

Projected costs for the STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) Academy Year 2, which includes summer workshops for STEM Academy teachers, STEM Academy Summer Camp (for 30 students from BTHS and 42 students from BMHS), a new robotic course, participation in STEM competitions, and an integrated STEM Academy instructor comes with a projected cost of $90,000.

McDonald also recommended participation in AchieveNJ for a teacher evaluation and support system launched by the NJDOE in 2011. Participation in the program would cost $148,000, which includes feedback and support to educational teams, impact instructional practice and promote growth in student achievement, she said.

Human Resources Director

Director of Human Resources Sean Cranston listed certified personnel needs for the district. They include:

A world language teacher for grades K-2; a chemistry teacher (which was in the current budget but not filled); two academic coaches, a behaviorist to help assist with struggling students who have the most challenging behavioral, social and communication needs; a learning disabilities teacher consultant; and several technology positions.

He showed PowerPoint slides that compared district teacher salaries for the 2016-2017 school year ($60,645,240) to the 2017-2018 school year ($62,582,120), with an increase of $1,936,880, or 3.19 percent.

For the same periods, teacher aide salaries would go from $4,504,502 to $4,600,213, up $95,711 over the two school years for an increase of 2.12 percent.

Also, TWU workers, which include secretaries, the transportation department and the facilities department would go from $9,778,066 in the present budget to $10,233,075 for next year ‑‑ an increase of $455,009 or 4.65 percent, he said.

Transportation Director

Next up was Transportation Director Don Wilson, who gave a student transportation overview and detailed the department’s transportation needs.

“We don’t need additional full time drivers or full time aides, and we don’t need additional part time runs or additional clerical or dispatch, but we could use 10 additional substitute bus drivers,” Wilson said.

Brick Board of Ed Building (Photo courtesy of Daniel Nee, Brick ShoreBeat)

The biggest need right now is to equip security cameras on 54 buses of the 120-bus fleet, he said. Forty-six already have the cameras, he added.

State law requires that six of the 54-passenger buses need to be retired since they are 20 years old, and the department needs one special needs van with a lift. He said that by the time a bus is 16 or 17 years old they become very expensive to run. New buses run anywhere from $70,000 to $150,000 each, depending on the type.

Of the 120 buses, 113 are usable, he said; 90 are full size school buses (minus six that are timed out or mechanically out of service) and 29 useable small vans, some of which are equipped with handicap lifts.

“We have 29 small vans and 29 routes, so they’re used all the time,” Wilson said.

The $4.1 million transportation budget pays for buses, parts, special education outside vendors and drivers, bus aides, gas, mechanics, dispatch, clerical and administration.

Wilson said he was proud that NJ Department of Transportation gave the Brick School District a high efficiency rating in the top 5 percent, or 20th of the 411 reporting districts.

Interim Superintendent Thomas Gialanella said the departmental needs listed during the presentations would not necessarily all be met.

“That doesn’t mean these needs go away, especially in the facilities area,” he said before the budget presentations. “Hopefully these needs can be addressed in the future.”

The April 27 budget hearing will be at Brick Memorial High School at 7 p.m. The next regularly-scheduled Board of Education meeting will be on May 11 at Brick High School at 7 p.m.

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Judy moved to Ocean County from New York City in 1988, and began her second career as a feature and news reporter in the mid-1990's. She has worked for Micromedia Publications since 2008, primarily reporting for The Toms River Times and The Brick Times. Judy has also worked for The Leader Review in Point Pleasant Beach, The Brick Communicator and The Asbury Park Press. Reach Judy by e-mail at [email protected]