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The Journals are the premier publications for high-quality, hyperlocal news and advertising in Monmouth County, New Jersey

Feb 01, 2017

Colts Neck Board of Education News

By Nicholas Deckmejian

Auditor’s Management Report

At the December 21 Colts Neck Board of Education meeting, the board was presented with the 2015-2016 Auditor’s Management Report by Mr. John Swisher of Suplee, Clooney & Company. State law requires the district be audited every year, and the presentation of the findings was framed by two reports. The first covered specific areas of compliance, about which Mr. Swisher’s only comment was that bids to be awarded with a professional service contract are supposed to be advertised, yet the district had a few bids that were not. He said that, while a couple slipped through, it is very easy to correct, and since it has never been a problem with the district before, it really wasn’t a major issue now.

Mr. Swisher moved on to the second report, which he referred to as “the one with lots of numbers in it.” The most important piece of paper in the report was the auditor’s opinion on financial statements. The highest grade from this report is an Unmodified Opinion. Mr. Swisher was pleased to announce that the district received an Unmodified Opinion yet again this year.

He also pointed out the portion of the report that covered the district’s funds and balances. He was happy to report that the district appears to be in good financial shape, stating there was just under $6.4 million in surplus at the end of the year. Of that, $1.2 million will support 2017’s budget and serve as tax relief for residents. The district also has $2.7 million in capital reserves, which state law allows to be put aside for long-range facility projects.  For example, if the district was funding a project, they could have the state fund 40% of the cost if the district could provide the other 60%. Having the money put aside can take care of these smaller projects out of pocket and avoid loans.

Before he left, Mr. Swisher praised the district’s administration and staff for being incredibly helpful and prompt during their audit.

Board of Education Says Goodbye to Michelle Tan

The December 21 board of education meeting was Michelle Tan’s last. During the president’s report, Dr. Raymond thanked Mrs. Tan for her years of service on the board, telling her that she’ll be greatly missed.

District Website Makeover

At the December 21 board of education meeting, Mrs. Tormey brought up the conversation of redeveloping the district’s website.  Saying that the district is looking for a more cost effective option, Mrs. Tormey told the board that their ultimate goal is to have a website that looks and operates much better, such as other districts in the area. The board also contemplated the possibility of having an internship through a local university to be a part of the process in building the new website. The idea was well received and led to the conversation of potentially tapping into the town’s own prospering talent within the middle school.

Bathroom Construction Update

At the December 21 board of education meeting, the board discussed the status of the ongoing bathroom projects in the district. The board received information from the contractor that they were financially unable to secure the necessary materials needed to continue the project. Members of the district set up an emergency meeting with the general contractors, hoping to find a solution to the issue. The contractor was unable to pay the manufacturer for the materials, which needed to be onsite to make it possible for the contractor to complete the project. The district considered the option to terminate the current contract with the general contractor, but they determined it would only cause more issues and further delay the project. Ultimately, the district decided to cover the expenses themselves.

“The short end of the story,” said Superintendent Garibay, “is we’re directly paying the manufacturer, instead of going through the general contractor, just to get materials here, because unfortunately – and for the record – there’s now a lack of trust in the contractor.” The superintendent went on to say that there has “never been a quality of work issue” but that the “primary obstacle has been cash flow.”

Curriculum Report

The report from the Curriculum Committee had several things worth highlighting at the December 21 board meeting. Dr. Raymond mentioned the Life Lines curriculum that is taught to help prevent teen suicide and she also went over some goals with the world language curriculum, with focus on fluency and level 1 courses being completed in eighth grade. Additionally, Dr. Raymond discussed Mindfulness programs going on with the third graders, which teach students organizational and focus skills. The committee was complimented for driving the district forward with the Mindfulness programs, which were referred to as a tremendous asset for the students, considering the fact that people are paying good money for similar coaching to be done at the corporate level.  Various members of the board praised the curriculum’s focus on constantly raising the bar and their phenomenal progress, saying how they can see the positive results already manifesting in their own children.

The board president also said the committee talked about the perceived gaps in the ELA curriculum, and how they planned on having a guest come in to help with grammar programs and develop new workshops.

Additionally, Dr. Raymond mentioned the initiatives to put the Genesis program in elementary school, which is a system to help parents and students view tests scores online as they are posted.  Genesis serves as a useful tool to not only allow parents to stay informed on their children’s performance, but also enables the student to track the scores themselves and stay more accountable.

Superintendent’s Report

Mrs. Maryjane Garibay gave her superintendent’s report and started by congratulating the outstanding performances seen at the annual Winter Show put together by first graders and Mr. Willis, and Mrs. Ridoux’s fantastic job with the middle school’s band concerts. The superintendent also took the time to commend the charitable efforts that took part in the Pajama Project, where students collected 94 pairs of pajamas to be donated to disadvantaged families in New Jersey. She also commented on the new TV system that is being installed throughout the district.  Bringing attention to the one already installed in the administration building, it was explained that the hope was to have TVs in all the buildings and have district-wide messages broadcasted, along with fun opportunities like having a word of the day displayed.