Jul 29, 2014

BOE Candidates, School Breakfast Report in the Week In Review

A look at West Orange's top stories.

BOE Candidates, School Breakfast Report in the Week In Review BOE Candidates, School Breakfast Report in the Week In Review

Busy last week and missed all the West Orange news that's fit to be posted?  Here's a quick list of important news last week:

Board of Education Candidates Meet and Greet Local Residents.  The Pleasantdale PTA held a “Meet the Candidates Night,” where residents could meet Board of Education candidates and ask them questions in an informal setting. The four candidates, incumbent Michelle Casalino and challengers Ron Charles, Adam Kraemer and Joe Sorbino are running for two three-year seats on the West Orange Board of Education.  This will be the first year candidates campaign and compete against one another in a November election.  One of the popular topics of the night was the lack of transparency, specifically after Superintendent Anthony Cavanna was suspended by the West Orange Board of Education.  “The question is not about the lack of transparency, It's about what we can do to improve it,” said Sorbino. “We can do this by having all meetings videotaped instead of every other meeting. We can put the videos on the website and transcripts of meetings as well."  The PTA asked candidates how they propose to find a new Superintendent with the experience and talent needed to fill the position based on the salary cap of $175,000.  "I would structure it a little differently," said Kraemer. "I would offer something below the $175,000 and then have a bonus program for the Superintendent based on achieving certain objectives."  "I believe the cap is going to be a challenge and I disagree with Mr. Kraemer about the merit situation, I think it's not going to attract the best talent to West Orange," said Charles. "I think the Board should act extremely diligent in checking references and looking through newspapers and social media."

Young Actors Have Chance to Audition for Charlotte’s Web.  Auditions for Charlotte's Web will be held Tuesday, October 23 and Wednesday, October 24 from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. at The Baird Theater in South Orange. Callbacks will be Saturday, October 27 at 1 p.m.  There are roles for all the enchanting characters of this children’s classic: Wilbur, the irresistible young pig who desperately wants to avoid the butcher; Fern, a girl who understands what animals say to each other; Templeton, the gluttonous rat who can occasionally be talked into a good deed; the Zuckerman family; the Arables; and, most of all, the extraordinary spider, Charlotte, who proves to be "a true friend and a good writer." Determined to save Wilbur, Charlotte begins her campaign with the "miracle" of her web in which she writes, "Some pig."  They are looking for children enrolled in grades K-8 for the production. Appointments are strongly suggested and may be made online @ interACT Auditions.   Walk-ins are welcome and will be seen at first available time slot.

New Street Crimes Unit Will Target Crime Near Orange Border.  Mayor Robert D. Parisi announced this week that the Township has formed a specialized Street Crimes Unit under the direction of the West Orange Police Department, to address a recent uptick in criminal activity in some sections of town.  "We have had a spike in crime in the areas of town that border Orange," said Parisi. "We are doing what we have to do to address these issues."  Parisi said the police department would move shifts around to reallocate four police officers -- a Sergeant and three officers -- to the Street Crimes Unit. He said the change would not impact the Department’s current number of police patrol units.

School Officials Say Breakfast Report is Misleading.  School officials pushed back against a recent report this week claiming the district does not provide free- and reduced-price breakfast for the majority of its low-income students.   The second School Breakfast Report cited 1,748 out of the 2,591 eligible students in West Orange did not receive a federally funded free- or reduced-price breakfast in 2011-12.   Board President Laura Lab, however, did not agree with the overall findings of the report.  When the whole picture is taken into account, said Lab, a variety of issues can be seen working against the district. The breakfast program is served in the morning, for instance, which can be missed by students who are late or who come in at different times. Lab added serving breakfast later in the morning is a potential challenge because it will take away from instruction time. The findings in the report are based on if “every eligible child received a school breakfast all 180 days of the school year,” which Lab said was unrealistic because it does not take into account absences. In addition, it counts as a strike against a district if a child does not choose to participate in the program.   A free- and reduced-price breakfast program is mandated in schools with a low-income student population of at least 20 percent. All of West Orange’s schools meet this threshold except the St. Cloud and Gregory elementary schools, but the programs are offered in those schools as well.   The free- or reduced-price lunch program does not have the same low participation rate. The lunch program serves nearly all eligible students, according to district Business Administrator Mark Kenney.    The difference between the breakfast and lunch programs, said Lab, emphasizes the challenge of getting students to school on time for the breakfast program. 

Eight-Year-Old Unveils His Cardboard Arcade.  After almost a year in the making, Jake Edelstein opened his cardboard arcade on the lawn of his suburban home in Caldwell Saturday.  Games included a remote-control car race and a ticket grab powered by a leaf blower, as well as miniature basketball and soccer. The games were manned by Jake's friends and fellow students at Jefferson Elementary School.  The arcade raised some $500 in donations for the Imagination Foundation, a scholarship fund for young inventors such as eight-year-old Jake. Another $200 came in through online donations.

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