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Lost Training a Concern to Teachers Post-Sandy

Storm eliminated days targeted for training in curriculum and technology.

District school teachers told the Hillsborough Board of Education at its most recent meeting that that they are concerned they may be shortchanged by the staff development days lost in the aftermath of Sandy.

The school district had originally scheduled Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, Nov. 5-7,  as in-service days. Coupled with the New Jersey Education Association convention set for Nov. 8-9, students would have a full week off from school.

But Sandy changed all that.

Schools were closed the week of Oct. 29. Schools were unable to open Nov. 5 and 6 because of power outages. And the NJEA cancelled its convention because of the storm’s impact on Atlantic City.

Because state law requires public schools to be in session for 180 days, the “snow” days caused by Sandy brought the school district to the brink of that requirement. The school district was able to recover three of those lost days by canceling the in-service day scheduled for Wednesday, Nov. 7 and having classes on Thursday and Friday.

But that still means that any snow days this winter will have to be made up either at spring recess at the end of March or eliminating the Martin Luther King Day (Jan. 21) or the Presidents’ Day (Feb.18) holidays. 

The in-service days were then moved to the end of the school year after the last day of classes, Superintendent of Schools Jorden Schiff explained at Monday’s school board meeting.

“There aren’t a great deal of options,” Schiff said.

Those in-service days, he said, will focus on the new guidelines for teacher evaluations. It is a state requirement to hold those sessions.

But teachers attending the board meeting bemoaned the loss of in-service days that were targeted for curriculum review and technology training.

Kelly Villano, a teacher at Auten Road Intermediate School, said teachers would now not be receiving the technology training that was included in last week’s in-service days. She said that many teachers were unable to attend the training sessions held last summer.

Villano also said she did not have enough time at the beginning of the school year to study the curriculum.

"I didn’t have my full curriculum until two days before school began,” she said, adding that no one is to blame because “there just wasn’t enough time.” 

Schiff said administrators realize the importance of the in-service days.

“We’re trying to put something together,” he said.

Another Auten Road teacher, Sylvia Scozzari, was more emphatic.

“I feel like we’re drowning,” she told the board.

“To say we’re overwhelmed is to put it mildly,” she said, adding that teachers are “being pulled in many directions.”

While she said the technology support staff has been “awesome,” Scozzari said there are still problems with implementing all the technology.

“We’re not being properly trained,” she said.

Scozzari said that some of her students “know more than I do.”

Richard Lesnik November 19, 2012 at 03:44 PM
Sorry about the weather. If it's so important, how about using some spring or winter vacation days?
Mark November 19, 2012 at 04:34 PM
Amen to that. What is wrong with a few days after the school year ends. The teachers are facing 2 months of vacation and cannot give up a few days or leave a day or 2 later for vacation!!!!! No one mentions that the kids are suffering if the teachers are not as prepared as the article mentions, I guess the students are not the real concern here.
Jelly Bean November 19, 2012 at 06:29 PM
Students are off from school for Winter Recess from December 24 thru January 1. There is still enough time to put a plan into action and utilize some of those days for the much needed in-service days. December 26, 27 and 28 would be PERFECT make up days for the teachers.
Mark November 20, 2012 at 01:35 AM
Is it true that oly about 15 per cent of the teachers even attend???? I would like to see the numbers of attendees at the convention from AC.
Jabooty November 20, 2012 at 03:22 PM
..."And the NJEA cancelled its convention because of the storm’s impact on Atlantic City..." I question WHY this event is even held DURING the school year causing closure of classes. That's the issue that should be changed. If so important, hold it over a three day weekend, it's a union activity. If union objects, then they can no longer hide from fact they are being PART of the problem, which can be addressed by taxpayers.
Mark January 16, 2013 at 11:28 AM
When I was young, I remember my dad going to UPS union meeting on Sundays. He did not have to go but it was his honor (and in his best interest) to attend. Teachers union could plan these trainings on days where the teachers have to attnd on "off" hours. Parents do it all the time, it is not too much to ask. Teachers--- put your money where your mouth is. If you are really concerned about this make it happen and show good faith by making some sacrifice.
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