Summit Public Schools

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Board of Education

Welcome to the Summit Board of Education

For more than 200 years, the tradition of excellence in the Summit Public Schools has been supported by an involved community and strong and effective Boards of Education. The Board operates under the guidance of a mission statement and shared values as well as the Summit Public Schools mission statement, developed with input from the entire school community and Summit residents. The Board's mission is "to set and uphold the standards by which we provide the students of the Summit public schools with a superior educational experience, in a way that is equitable, financially responsible, and free of political influence."

In addition, the Board seeks public input to establish its Focus Areas, which are reviewed every three years. The current focus areas are found here.

Board Meetings

Summit Board of Education meetings are an ideal opportunity for the public to see its Board at work, discussing issues, and making decisions that set the course for the Summit Public Schools. Board meetings are conducted according to the provisions of the state's Open Public Meetings Act (Sunshine Law).

Agendas: Prior to the Board's two monthly meetings, agendas are prepared by the Board secretary and the Superintendent of Schools and are then reviewed with the Board president and Vice President. The agendas outline items that are expected to be discussed at the Board's workshop meetings and acted upon at the board's regular meetings. Agendas are distributed to Board members before each of the meetings and are sent to the media, community group representatives, and individuals upon request. Agendas are also available to the public at the meetings and on the district website - www.summit.k12.nj.us.

Workshop Meetings: On the second Thursday of each month, with the exception of August, the Board conducts workshop meetings, beginning at 7pm, at the Board offices as Wilson. At workshop meetings, Board members review matters outlined on the agenda and hear reports from the superintendent and the board committees. The workshop meeting is the primary meeting where Board members have an opportunity to discuss board business as reported by the committee chairs. The public is invited to attend workshop meetings and may address the board regarding committee reports. The public is welcomed and encouraged to attend regular meetings to address the board on any school matters.

Regular Meetings: On the third Thursday of each month, again with the exception of August, the Board convenes in regular meetings, which are held in Summit High School's Media Center. Meetings begin at 7pm. At regular meetings, the Board formally votes on agenda items that were discussed at the previous workshop meeting. Regular meetings also provide the public an opportunity to address the board on any school matter. The board agenda allows for public comments on items on the agenda and items not on the agenda. The presiding officer will open the meeting for public comment early on the agenda.

Closed Session:. The Board may also meet privately in closed session to discuss confidential matters such as personnel, labor negotiations, or legal issues. The public may not attend these meetings, and board members may not publicly discuss details of closed sessions.

Special Meetings: Occasionally, special board meetings are scheduled for the purpose of addressing specific topics. The public is invited to attend these informative sessions.

Minutes: Minutes of all board of education meetings are available to the public, even those of closed sessions when the reasons for privacy no longer exist.

About the Board

Summit operates under New Jersey Statute Title 18A as a Type I board of education. This statute mandates that members of Type I districts' boards of education be appointed by the mayor rather than be elected by popular vote. The selection process for board members begins with the volunteer application forms, available from City Hall, which are submitted by individuals who wish to nominate themselves or someone else for appointment to the board of education or other community boards. The mayor first seeks the advice of community leaders in narrowing the list of candidates and traditionally makes the final decision in April with the advice of Common Council. In making appointments, the mayor looks for a balance of talents among board members and for representation from all areas of the city. Members are chosen for their experience, expertise, and ability. The seven members of the Summit Board of Education are appointed by the mayor for three-year staggered terms, with two or three of the seats up for appointment or reappointment each year. As mandated by law, the board holds its annual reorganization meeting each year on May 16. (If that date falls on a weekend, the meeting is held the following Monday.) At the meeting, new board members take office and board officers are appointed for the following year. Board of education members are also members of the New Jersey School Boards Association and attend its annual conference where they have the opportunity to participate in two days of workshops on current educational topics. Board members attend other NJSBA sponsored workshops on relevant topics throughout the year. Board of education members also act as liaisons to the Union County School Boards Association, the Union County Education Services Commission, the Garden State Coalition, and the Summit Education Foundation.

Board of Education Committees

Board of Education members also serve on one or more committees. The board president determines the makeup of these committees based on member interest and expertise and ensures that all members have an opportunity to serve on all committees during their tenure. Committee reports are given on a monthly basis at the board's public meetings. The committees will all focus on goals associated with the 2015-2018 Focus Areas.

The Education Committee, chaired by David Dietze assists in setting educational policies and in guiding district curriculum and programs. Its members review significant curriculum changes, new textbook adoptions, and student achievement, and acts as liaison with community organizations involved with educational concerns and issues. This committee focuses on all of the district's focus areas, with a lens on ensuring achievement for all students. Its members work with the district's assistant superintendent.

Finance and facilities are the major concerns of the Operations Committee, chaired by Vice President Deb McCann. Its members work with the district's business administrator in developing the annual budget. The committee also reviews the maintenance and repair of the district's buildings, equipment, and grounds.

The Negotiations Committee, chaired by Board President Rick Hanley works with the Superintendent, director of human resources, business administrator, and the school district's attorneys to reach equitable contracts with the two labor unions represented in the district.

The Communications Committee, chaired by Chris Bonner, provides advice to the administration and board of education on messages, delivery vehicles, and focus to ensure clarity, accuracy, and transparency of all district communications to all stakeholders.

The Policy Committee, chaired by Vanessa Primack, ensures that district policies and regulations comply with all state and federal mandates. The committee works with cabinet members and school administrators to align the policies with the negotiated contracts and unique circumstances of the district.

Besides these committees, Board members also serve as liaisons to community organizations, such as SEF, S4A, SpeakUp Summit, Mayor's Diversity Forum, Garden State Coalition, UCESC, and on task forces set up by the administration to address district challenges.

Fiscal Responsibility

Another provision of Title 18A is approval of the annual school budget by a Board of School Estimate, which is comprised of the mayor, two members of Common Council, and two members of the board of education. The budget, which is submitted to the Board of School Estimate for approval, is the result of months of preparation and is based on the board of education's established priorities. Annually, the process begins in the late fall with input from teachers, principals, department supervisors, and administrators. The business administrator, in conjunction with the board's Operations Committee, prepares a preliminary budget that is approved by the entire board before being submitted to the county superintendent of schools. During the preparation of the preliminary budget, public meetings are held to seek additional input from the community.
Upon approval of the preliminary budget by the county superintendent, the final budget is determined and approved by the board of education before being presented to the Board of School Estimate in late March. The Board of School Estimate holds additional public hearings on the budget, and final approval is usually given in early April. Throughout the entire budget process, the board of education continually strives to honor its commitments to the students of Summit to provide a quality education and to the taxpayers and community as a whole to establish a prudent financial plan.
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