Archive of Board Meeting Agenda, Minutes and Meeting Highlights

 

Hoboken Charter School is managed by a Board of Trustees made up of elected parents, educators and community members.  The Board of Trustees meeting dates can be found on our calendar.  Meetings begin at 7:00 p.m. with exceptions noted on the school calendar. The meeting location rotates between the 713 Washington Street and 360 First Street facilities as noted in the school calendar. The 4th Wednesday of the month is reserved for committees which may meet at an alternate time and location.  Changes are communicated via announcements in local papers, City Hall, the school website and weekly school community communications.

 

Meeting Highlights

July 17, 2018 Meeting

Policy

At the July board meeting, there were motions on seven new policies.  Three motions were approvals required for HCS to participate in the National School Lunch and Breakfast Program.  Three motions were approvals for school evaluation systems- the school leader/principal evaluation system, the tenured and nontenured teaching staff evaluation system and the Chief School Administrator evaluation system. The board also conducted a first read of the school’s Code of Student Conduct (CSC) which removed dress code violations as its own category from the CSC and added infractions related to vaping/possession of a vaping device, causing harm to another student and insolence. A question was asked regarding what “causing harm” entails, and Deirdra Grode expressed that this encompassed emotional and physical harm.

Educational Planning  

The board approved the school’s use of Swing Education Services to increase our pool of substitute teachers. A conversation continued from the June meeting about finding ways to accommodate staff members’ time off while also ensuring that we have the best people in the classroom during teachers’ time away from the classroom and also not burdening the onsite teachers unreasonably.

A new state law requiring a twenty year criminal history review secured by previous employers (extending beyond the criminal background checks currently mandated) was discussed.  Challenges including liability issues surrounding this new law were discussed.

The school’s annual report, which was approved at the meeting for submission to the NJDOE, reviewed social justice and service learning work that occurred across the three divisions this school year with greater detail than in many years’ reports, and the school is working to create a document to illustrate for our community what service learning looks like in action across all content areas and grades.  Deirdra Grode expressed that the school is looking to find more opportunities to share with all of our stakeholders what our mission realized looks like in the classroom.

The HIB Self-Assessment score of 78 of 78 possible points as determined by the School Safety/ Climate Team was shared with the Board for approval.  The scoring rubric and process to determine the score was reviewed in advance of the vote.

Personnel

With the approval of three new teachers at the board meeting, Travis Novack, Chloe Sosa-Jarrett and Kiersten Fran, only one part-time position remains to be filled for the 2018-2019 school year. The HCS administrative team has reviewed hundreds of resumes and found some exceptional candidates. They are excited for such a strong team of K-12 staff this coming year.

Finance

The new FOHCS lease was discussed and approved and will be sent to Fulton Bank.  The closing on 709 Washington Street is anticipated to occur no later than early August 2018.

Closed Session

School safety procedures were reviewed.

 

June 19, 2018 Meeting

An HCS upper school student Elisa-Marie Rivera expressed that she has been in the Hoboken Charter School since kindergarten and always looked forward to the future at HCS upper school.  She mentioned that she was aware of turnover of staff members for the upcoming school year that disappointed her as she and her classmates have such strong relationships with the teachers at the upper school.  She urged the Board to find ways to improve compensation for HCS teachers and staff moving forward to reduce turnover.

HCS teacher Matt Gregory thanked the Board for increasing the pay scale five years ago. He then stated that he was here to address the issue of class coverage when a teacher is out as staff members cover for one another when a substitute is not available.  He asked the Board to consider a new policy through which the money that is set aside for substitute teachers who do not provide coverage when unavailable be distributed to teachers when their prep time is spent covering a colleague’s class.

Executive Director Deirdra Grode presented her strategic plan work to the Board.  She stated that Hoboken Charter School’s 20th year was one of reflection and envisioning for its future as a K-12 leader of service-learning, social justice and learner-centered education.  Considerable reflection was informed by insight from surveys and focus groups which covered a wide range of stakeholders including 7th-12th grade students, K-12 faculty and staff, K-12 parents, alumni, parents of alumni and board members.  Feedback fell into four aspirational focus areas, Mission, Value Proposition, Communication and Community.

Mission – HCS will recommit to and reimagine learner-centered education and service learning as the core elements of the HCS mission and affirm the crucial role that social justice education has as a lever for creating powerful service learning experiences.  HCS will engage in systematic program review to ensure alignment with the mission and our commitment to learner-centered education and service learning.  HCS will also design space at 709 Washington Street to best align with our vision for learning.

Value Proposition HCS will establish our upper school as a differentiator in the competitive high school market and seek out and engage students who are passionate about social justice education and service learning and who seek something more than the traditional high school experience.  HCS will use its small size as an opportunity for connecting students to the community through authentic and relevant learning projects that seek to solve pressing problems; fostering the development of meaningful relationships; and providing unique opportunities for personalized learning.

Community HCS will develop programs and context for collaboration that clarifies the thirteen-year HCS learning experience.  To unify the school community, HCS will unite stakeholders around the mission in meaningful, relationship-building ways that create a consistent sense of home for our students; create more opportunities for purposeful collaboration across “divisions;” and design 709 Washington Street with unification in mind.  Additionally, we will tell the story of the full HCS experience through refined messaging.

Communication  HCS will acknowledge, celebrate and share the extraordinary quality of our K-12 teachers and K-12 student learning to K-12 families and beyond; train faculty to communicate a “one school” mentality and to become champions for all of HCS; and better communicate the school mission to our current and prospective families.

A discussion followed through which a timeline for implementation was discussed (end of summer with piloted programs starting in the 2018.2019 school year).  One board member asked if data from the surveys would be shared, and Deirdra Grode stated that she would be happy to share trends but identifying information would not be shared.  Discussion ensued regarding clarifying the mission without deviating from the core elements of the mission and seeking ways to ensure that our families are here for the mission.

Upper School Teacher Ian Costello presented on the Upper School Advisory Program.  He expressed that our current advisory program is a socio-emotional and academic support program that occurs four times a week for thirty minutes a session with two teachers to twelve to thirteen students. The ultimate goal over a four-year period is to get students ready for college and career. For the 2017-2018 school year, the sessions focused on study habits, college and career readiness work and socio-emotional work.  Advisory has served well to offer a venue for non-academic needs and school wide culture initiatives in addition, he stated. All students feel like they have at least one adult in the school to trust which is critical for building community.  Advisory teachers have recommended that advisory become three sessions per week with the addition of restorative circles.

Business Administrator Mort Marks introduced a first read of three policies supporting the school’s participation in the National School Lunch and Breakfast programs.  After one revision made regarding the implementation of an offer versus serve policy at the upper school, the first readings were approved.  Motions involving the renewal of Brown and Brown Metro, LLC commercial insurance plan for the FY 2018-2019, the 2018-2019 Vendor Contract between HCS and Karson Food Service, Inc. and the acceptance of the 2018-2019 ESEA and IDEA Grant Awards were presented and approved. Cash balances are still high and the school is on target with its budget.

The Executive Director recommended the acceptance of employee resignations and approval of new hires Victoria Gemma, Math, and Samantha Glass, English.  She shared that the school has been actively engaged in interviewing candidates for instructional vacancies for the 2018-2019 school year.  Students have been engaged in demonstration lessons and have shared feedback with administration.

Joanna Weintraub, 2018-2019 Upper School Principal, spent a day at HCS last week and attended a FoHCS Parents Meeting, met with several key personnel in the K-12 program, participated in interviews and held focus group sessions with 9th, 10th and 11th grade students.  She looks forward to her visit later this week through which she’ll have an opportunity to meet with the rest of the 9-12 team and begin planning for the upcoming school year.

Reports from the Executive Director and Principals were given. (See text of reports in the meeting agenda to the right.)

Prior to adjourning the meeting, the Board went into closed session for discussions related to communication, finances and discipline.

May 15, 2018 Meeting

Upper School teachers Matt Gregory, Megan Baird and Allison Addona presented on the upper school’s Social Justice Lab.  The program goals are for students to develop an understanding of social justice issues and key terms and to develop literacy in a wide array of social justice topics including racism, sexism, religious intolerance, heterosexism, environmentalism, ageism, ablesism and classism.  A separation from school and real world is eliminated through these explorations and academic skill work oftentimes becomes more engaging and gains relevance. The teachers also reviewed the types of activist tools that students used to share their learning and invited the board and members of the public to attend a June share of the year’s work.  Questions were posed by the board around replication of the work, explorations around intersectionality, work around empathy development and service and support the board can provide.  Supports mentioned included more professional development around the work, the potential for adding a civics component and possibilities of what this work could look like moving forward.

Morton Marks, Buiness Administrator, discussed the increase in cash for this period due to the receipt of the State Adjustment.  Spending has been within the budget guidelines.

The board discussed the separation of the management positions of Executive Director and Principal K-8 and elimination of the Vice Principal K-8 role.  Deirdra Grode expressed how such separation supported the strategic planning work and some of the challenges of holding both roles of ED and Principal of one of two divisions.

Reports from Administration were given.  (See text of reports in the meeting agenda to the right.)

The Board went into closed session for discussions related to a HIB investigation and legal and finance matters.

Prior to adjourning the meeting, the board affirmed the recommended HIB case determinations.

Board Meeting Agendas & Minutes