Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Bogota Board of Education

 20-January-2021

   On Tuesday-19-January the Bogota Board of Education held their work session meeting for the month of January.  In his Superintendent Report Mr. Damian Kennedy announced that the Bogota Public Schools had re-open with Hybrid learning.  Superintendent Kennedy  said that about 120 Student, from all three Pubic School went inside the classroom on Tuesday. Wednesday will be an all virtual day, and Thursday & Friday the second groups of in school lessons will take place. 
  Next Superintendent Kennedy talked about the addition of the National Blue Ribbon logo on Steen School has been done. Also that Bogota Winter sports will begin on Wednesday-27-January. These games are closed to the Public, but will be lived streamed on the High School Facebook page. He continued  his report by saying the State Department of Education has waved the need for Senior testing for Graduation of the Class of 2021.  
   The Trustees voted on  the Consent Agenda and passed by unanimous vote. Some noteworthy item were the approval of an After School Reading program to be paid for with Title I funding. Another was to accept the retirement of Ms Carol Misa effective on 30-June-2021.
  Then the trustees moved on to new business. This was a discussion of whether or not to renew the Contract of Superintendent Kennedy. The current contract for Superintendent Kennedy is for three years, and will end in June of 2021.  Wording in current contract was the Board of Trustees had to make a decision on Superintendent Kennedy employment for another three year by 1-February. The Trustees could vote to extend the contract, to vote not to extended it, or not vote on it at all. If they chose not to vote at all the contract would automatically renew for another three years and run until June-2024.  Not voting to extend would then start the process of interviewing for the next Superintendent of school. Superintendent Kennedy would be allow to re-apply for his job, while continuing in his position. This would allow the Board to interview other candidates for the same position.  This was discussed in the Executive Session of the last Board meeting on  12-January.  Some members of the Board did not think the newer member had enough time and information to review Superintendent Kennedy record.  During the Executive Session Superintendent Kennedy asked if his contract could be apart of the next public meeting. This is know as being “RICED” which states that a school board must inform employees that their employment status will be discussed during a school board’s closed session. The board must also inform them in that notice of their right to compel the board to discuss their employment status in public. (This is named after NJEA member named Regina Rice from Union County in 1977. When she and other employees of their School District were terminated. The school board, however, had failed to notify these members that it would be taking such an action)
   When a motion was added to the agenda it was open to Public Comment. For almost one hour members of the Public talked to support Superintendent Kennedy and what he has done for the Bogota public Schools in the past three years. Those who spoke included Facility and Staff member, and many Parent of current and Alumni Student. They list the accomplishment of the past three years which started by mentioning free pre-School for all residents. Then the planned expansion of classroom space, and the Lillian Steen School being honoured as a National Blue Ribbon School were added to the list.  They also talked about Superintendent Kennedy as a person who works hard to know what is needed by the Students, Teachers and Parents to find success in learning.  He would also do more personal thing like attending as many schools functions as possible. Not just Varsity Sports, but coming to Elementary School concerts and even to reading to kindergarten classes.  One point, that was repeated often, is that he has been a part of the district for over 11 years. First as the Vice Principal, then Principal of Bogota High School, before being selected as Superintendent of Public School.  The continuity of his time in Bogota was considered, by many, the most important reason for Superintendent Kennedy to have his contract extended.  This was highlighted  by some staff member saying in the years teaching in Bogota they have seen 11 Superintendent’s  come and go. And in recent years members of other district have asked how Bogota has improved there educational system, and this year how Bogota is managing the current health crisis while still ensuring the safety of both Student and Staff.
   When the Public Comment was closed the trustees had their time to talk bout what should be the Board discussion. Heated at time, with trustees then apologizing for becoming too  vehement when making their point. Some trustees felt they need more time and were locked in by an arbitrary time line.  As the trustees continued to talk the focus turning to the process of when they needed to vote on the Superintendent’s contract.  Slowly it was agreed on that the terms of the contract could be up for consideration, as well as the timeline on needing approval. The Broad Attorney did say some limited points of a Superintendent’s contact could be re-negotiated, but there is a per-scribed time frame on the renewing  of contracts. Finally a motion to vote on a the re-newly of Superintendent Kennedy which will include some re-negotiated was moved. This was passed by an 8-1 vote.  This extends Superintendent Kennedy with the Bogota Board of Education for three more years to June-2024.
   The next Board of Education meeting will be on Tuesday-9-February and is scheduled to start at 7:00p. This will be a virtual meeting and is open to the public.  Access information to be announced at a later date. Updates and announcements from the Bogota Board of Education will be available at:  www.bogotaboe.com
  Addition information about the District reopening plans can be found at: Bogota School re-opening 2020 ;  Bogota hybridvirtual-parent-portal 
 Along with information in both English and   GUÍA DE USUARIO - Español  at  https://www.bogotaboe.com/domain/423

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