By Chris Neidenberg / Reporter
EAST RUTHERFORD (Nov. 18, 2010) — Though it does share certain services with other school systems, the head of the committee overseeing the issue for the Carlstadt-East Rutherford Regional Board of Education insists even more can be done.
At the board’s Wednesday, Nov. 3 work session, Trustee Richard Vartan called for resuming efforts to seek more cost-sharing with Becton’s K-8 sending districts: Carlstadt and East Rutherford.
The only area all three currently pool resources is in curriculum coordination. Last year, the systems jointly hired Melissa Varley for the task. She routinely meets with educators in all three districts for a common goal: better preparing students for entering Becton.
“I think the districts can do much more to help each other,” Vartan told The Leader. “But everyone has to be on the same page.”
Vartan cited coordinating special education as his next priority, particularly designating one person who would play a role similar to Varley.
Interim Superintendent of Schools Paul Saxton lauded the idea. “Your special education services — that’s so easy to put in place,” the superintendent said.
He added the three systems must make a more determined effort to increase shared services. Doing that, Saxton said, entails greater exploration of what “each of your organizations has to offer.”
“But I think everyone has to be in the same room,” he pointed out.
Becton Board President Lawrence Bongiovanni encouraged Vartan to move swiftly by “preparing your agenda with your committee and formulating a plan of attack.”
Though Becton currently provides some special education transportation services to Carlstadt, for students placed out of district, Vartan also cited a need for coordinating evaluation in both sending districts.
“Their (special education) students will eventually be coming here and we want to make sure they’ll do well,” he explained. “I think it’s definitely in the interests of all three to share a director of special education.”
Elaine Stevens, Carlstadt Board of Education president, and East Rutherford Superintendent of Schools Kenneth Rota, assured their boards are more than willing to resume discussions.
As for his district’s own efforts beyond curriculum coordination, Rota said East Rutherford shares some pupil transportation services with Rutherford and Carlstadt, as well as an occupational therapist with Carlstadt.
Stevens said that, in addition to transportation services, Carlstadt and Becton “share a technology coordinator.” The person splits his work week between both districts in servicing computers.
“Certainly, I feel we can do more,” she said. “In terms of computers and software, the districts can explore areas like joint purchasing and possibly having all computers placed on one server. I would also support sharing more resources in tending to the needs of our special ed students.”
“If Becton arranged a meeting, our board would be more than happy to send a delegate,” Rota said. “There’s certainly interest here in examining sharing more resources with Becton and Carlstadt.”
Additionally, Saxton endorsed including elected officials from both municipalities in any continued dialogue. Stevens said her own board of education has been proactive working with Carlstadt.
“We’ve received excellent cooperation from the governing body, particularly in helping us maintain school grounds,,” she explained. “The DPW performs many services. They include lawn mowing, gardening and snow plowing.”