The Flemington-Raritan School District serves children from both Flemington Boro and Raritan Township. The district consists of four K - 4 elementary schools, one intermediate school for grades 5 and 6 and a middle school for grades 7 and 8. The Board of Education is the governing body of the school district, responsible for developing policy to ensure the proper care, management and control of district affairs, and supporting the mission of educating our students to reach their full potential. To that end, the Flemington-Raritan Board of Education sets district policy which is then implemented by the superintendent and administrators.In addition to setting policy, the Board hires the superintendent; approves staff hiring, resignations, terminations and leaves of absence; reviews and adopts the district budget; approves expenditures; approves educational programs (curriculum), and otherwise ensures that proper facilities and equipment are available to support teaching and learning in the district.The Board is comprised of nine, volunteer members, with seven members elected from Raritan Township and two members elected from Flemington Borough. Members are elected to three-year terms on the November general electionday. This election fills a two-year unexpired term.
5 J Amy Lane
Melanie Rosengarden for Flemington-Raritan Board of Education
My name is Melanie Rosengarden. I am running for the Flemington-Raritan Board of Education because I am proud of this district. My family moved here for the great educational reputation and it served my two children extremely well. The district also served me well as I was the school nurse at Copper Hill Elementary School for most of my career in the district. The last year of my tenure I was working at Reading Fleming Middle School and JP Case which was a great experience working with many of my students during their middle school years. I have retired from school nursing so I have time to commit to the numerous committees and board meetings. I want to continue giving back to my community by committing to uphold the great reputation of the Flemington-Raritan School District while maintaining financial responsibility, and transparency.
Skills that I will bring to the board are my strong medical expertise during these unprecedented times of Covid-19. I am a natural advocate by profession, team player, detail oriented, creative thinker and I have policy making experience in the hospital and school settings. I understand the budget process of the district. I am very aware of the impact steadily decreasing state and federal funding has on the district. Six years ago the district switched to a zero based budget and it has saved the district money. Finally, my experience as a taxpayer, parent and school nurse employee of the district allows me a unique view to all sides.
Children should be in school where they learn best. Virtual and hybrid scheduling is not ideal to our young learners or working families. Immediate challenges the district is facing would be delivering high quality education in an equitable way to all students under guidelines of Covid-19. Working within the guidelines of the state, CDC and Hunterdon County Health Department is extremely challenging and the district is working hard to service the children. The school budget was developed prior to Covid-19, therefore, financing the unexpected costs of social distancing measures, sanitation, Plexiglas barriers, personal protective equipment along with unplanned need for additional electronic devices, bandwidth and equitable access to WIFI all while trying to maximize the best social emotional environment for our students while virtual or in person. The district must seek out all possible grants, state and federal funding that are available, reallocate monies from utilities as the buildings have been closed or on shortened hours. Review budget items for services that cannot be offered under these guidelines and repurpose that money. There are many new grants out there since the start of the pandemic to assist schools and the district needs to be actively looking.
Opportunities for the district include but not limited to improving ways to support staff and students to be resilient during these uncertain times. The social emotional impact of social distancing and learning in virtual form is something we can foresee and must be proactive to give our community the best chance of strength to withstand these stressors in healthy ways that will carry us through our lives. We can improve our school community mental health through creative ways where students feel safe and connected to all the other students in the same situation. Another opportunity is improving equity for all students.
The Flemington-Raritan School District reopening plan is comprehensive based on current state mandates. I have been a part of the Reopening Committee on Governance and Operations task force since the beginning. We have met monthly to review, share concerns, compare with the NJ state guidelines and update as needed. This is a living document that is changing frequently as new information is available. I feel the district is working hard to follow the guidelines and maintain the safety for every student and staff member. Self-evaluation of the plan is top priority. I would like to see a suggestion box (electronic) for new ideas by students, staff and parents.
Another main concern is how best to support students, staff and parents' social and emotional needs. The school is not a replacement for mental health care but it is normally the center of socialization for students and staff. Trying to balance screen time, free time and social time is difficult these days but I would like to see creative ways each school could reach out to the students to encourage destressing such as group games, yoga clubs, workout clubs, book clubs, crafting from home and virtual picnics with classmates.
Post pandemic self-evaluation and debriefing by staff, students, and parents will be extremely important. Finances will need to be allocated for unplanned crisis along with maintaining a supply of personal protective equipment, sanitation supplies, and electronic devices for virtual learning. The district should incorporate continuing education for virtual teaching along with access to a teacher platform that would allow teachers to practice these skills often with each other to maintain their skills.
Going forward the district can consider using snow days differently. They could be used as virtual school days along with supporting and encouraging activities to may help improve resiliency and offer fun new opportunities like a virtual exercise class or favorite club as a healthy alternative. These “snow days” could also offer another opportunity to incorporate more STEM and Science activities.
Finally, I believe these uncertain times allows us the ability to use the creativeness our staff has to offer to engage the students in new opportunities to foster the love of learning, social connections and self-esteem which will be invaluable as each student continues to move toward their life aspirations.
Thank you for this opportunity to share how I can be an asset for the Flemington-Raritan Board of Education.
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I have been involved with the Flemington Raritan School District through many different avenues and have decided that I would like to help shape the future of our school district in a greater way. I have worked for nonprofits, as a fire marshal, electrician and local firefighter with Flemington Borough Fire Department since 1997. I have gotten to know the various administrators throughout the years both through these different avenues and have spent time with teachers as well to hear and see their collective concerns. My background in the fire service, electrical trades and uniform construction code inspections provides insight into many facets of building construction, code compliance and safety factors. I spent many years installing fire alarms, burglar alarms, camera systems and access control systems in large corporate buildings, pharmaceutical buildings and many school systems. I feel this makes me a well rounded individual with a wide skill set.
In the most immediate time frame the challenges are covid-19, socioemotional needs, distance learning, and bias/racism issues. In regards to Covid-19 following the guidelines provided by the health department and the CDC are the first steps, watching and taking stock of what other schools and districts are doing throughout the state to see what is working and what isn't would be another way to better craft our policies and procedures to ensure the safety of the students and staff. Distance learning needs to be looked at deeply as both how this has adverse impacts on the socioemotional well being of the students and staff as well as the actual semantics of network capabilities, band width, cost, and functionality. This is also an area where there is opportunity to allow students to take what would be a snow day or weather related day off to a "normal" school day to help reduce the impact on the school calendar and maintaining educational goals.
I feel that there is no one solution that will work for every parent or every situation. What works for some students will not work for others. My concern would be that those students that this isn't working for may fall further behind in their educational goals. It is important that we have open communication with parents to listen to what is working, what isn't and come together as a group to fix these issues. I have sat on a couple of superintendent advisory committees and have found that the feedback that was presented in these groups created interesting conversations and allowed me to have insight from teachers, administrators and support staff while viewing it as a parent. This is no different we have to constantly keep diligent on current health department recommendations, and the voice of the district to be able to make decisions to keep our students and staff safe.
One of the things that I think we have learned is that our students and staff need the in person interaction. There is a greatly reduced bond that students have with teachers when they don't interact with them in person and that staff would have a harder time getting to know the student as a person via the computer screen. Even with that being said we have started a journey into the digital age that while in it's infancy will grow to be another tool at the disposal of our teachers and administration. We should look to find ways to utilize technology to overcome inclement weather days, in service delivery, and to enhance our students education. We have seen resources via the world wide web, new learning platforms, and video conferencing to provide solutions for a pandemic. This all could be helpful should there be a large flu outbreak or stomach bugs to help keep students learning while also helping to reduce transmission of quick spreading outbreaks.