The Hopewell Valley Board of Education discussed the latest academic achievement report and the ongoing teachers’ contract dispute in their November meeting.
Teachers continued to flood the meeting, all in red, to highlight the ongoing contract dispute, which, according to Board President Alyce Murray, will continue into January when fact-finding begins.
“We value our teaching staff and the quality of education they provide to our students,” Murray said.
“It is a disappointment to our board that the time is going to drag out to January,” said Board Vice President Lisa Wolff.
In response, John Zalot, an AP Calculus teacher at Central High School, voiced his concerns on the contract and highlighted some issues he and other teachers are facing.
“If we’re not going to fact-finding until January, that’s a big concern for us as teachers,” Zalot said. Zalot outlined issues with insurance premiums, stating that he’s “taking home less” every pay period, despite an $1,000 longevity increase. “To me, that’s a slap in the face and it needs to be addressed in the new contract,” Zalot said.
Murray responded that “it would be beneficial to iron out some of those issues in the next contract,” with negotiations ongoing.
The Board of Education additionally outlined the latest academic achievement report, which includes some changes to standardized testing.
Across the board, standardized tests have been reduced with fewer questions and less time in both the language arts and math sections.
“The good news is the state has listened to a lot of parents and a lot of educators,” Superintendent Thomas A. Smith said.
Additionally, Central High School continued to see a large number of AP-enrolled students, with 296 AP students in 2018. Furthermore, 92.6 percent of total AP students have received a score of three or more on their AP exams.
However, refusals of the PARCC exam, despite dropping by over 100 students from last year, still remained high, with Smith stating that they are “one of the districts with the largest number of refusals in the area.”
Wolff stated that this number may also begin to rise, as the PARCC exam was a requirement for graduation last year.
“While we like seeing those numbers drop, I think at the high school level, we may not continue to see them,” Wolff said.
Despite this hiccup, the Board overall felt that academics continued to do well in the District, with both SAT and ACT scores exceeding the national and state average.
The Board’s next meeting is scheduled for December 10.