Categorized | News, Schools

Statement from Board of Education President Sam Lebreault read at the 1/7/15 Reorganization Meeting

Good evening parents, faculty, staff, friends, and students. I will first address myself to you in English. Afterward, I will do so in Spanish. And, I ask for your indulgence due to my lengthy remarks.

Welcome back from our winter recess and may you all have a healthy and prosperous year. I thank you for being here tonight and for viewing this telecast either through our website or our local access channels. I want to start by first expressing my gratitude to you for supporting this board over the last year. I also want to thank this board for selecting me to lead the continuation of our effort to return this district to normalcy and success. Although there will be many tough decisions to be made this year, it is my and this board’s intent to work together as a board, with our staff, our parents, the community, and our students to achieve success. Additionally, wherever possible, this board will seek and welcome collaboration with organizations to assist this board in improving our district.

Today, I am assuming the duties of the President of the Perth Amboy Board of Education. This post brings with it a lot of responsibilities and challenges. And, I fully expect this year to be a very challenging year. However, I do find comfort in this board’s ability to rise to those challenges; as well as that of our administration. In fact, this board is building upon the efforts of last year’s leadership team; at the board, our outgoing president, Mrs. Gonzalez, and at the administration, interim superintendent, Dr. Rodriguez. It is to these outstanding individuals to whom I turn my attention.

Last year’s board appointed Dr. Vivian Rodriguez as Acting Superintendent and subsequently Interim Superintendent to start and continue the effort to repair the damage done by those who sought to vanquish our district to the catacombs of good learning institutions in our state. Although the damage was great and the task daunting and at times riddled with obstacles, Dr. Rodriguez never strayed from the course she set at the onset of her superintendence tenure. As for Mrs. Obdulia Gonzalez, as a board president, she showed her leadership throughout the entire year. She was eloquent, confident, poised, and handled very difficult situations with Solomon’s wisdom while seeking cooperation and consensus amongst board members and other organizations. She too, set her own course; a course to correct curriculum inadequacies and shortcomings, as well as to heal this district at the board level, at the district level; and may I add, at the city level.

These two leaders receive the unqualified support of the board and led us throughout the year to achieve many noteworthy successes. I proudly mention some of them:

  • Our District set eighteen QSAC goals to address state mandates and improve district performance
  • Staff evaluations were completed on time and in accordance with state guidelines for the first observation cycle.
  • We upgraded our personnel department; thus giving the district additional tools to increase staff knowledge and achievement; as well as accountability.
  • We restructured and addressed many staff needs at our HS; thus, setting in motion future better performance by our students in all measurable facets of their development as high school students and future college material
  • We submitted to the county our Quality Single Accountability Continuum requirements
  • We held our first Parents Literacy Convention
  • We increase parental involvement as well as increased dissemination of information to our parents
  • We approved numerous job descriptions as well as necessary new positions to address critical district needs
  • We brought an end to persecutions, intimidations, and retaliations, and we saw an end to perhaps the lowest morale that our staff has ever experienced
  • On many occasions, we appointed from within administrators that have shown true leadership in our district; amongst them, principals at both Herbert N. Richardson and Robert N. Wilentz Schools, Vice Principals at the High School Samuel E. Shull Middle School, and Robert N. Wilentz Schools, as well as a new District Supervisor of technology
  • We took on an unprecedented curriculum writing initiative on time to meet QSAC guidelines
  • We approved the return of the High School 9th Grade Academy
  • Our High School students are now exposed to a more rigorous curriculum that will better prepare them for success at higher education institutions
  • Opened learning centers at the middle school level
  • Parent Portal is now a reality
  • We improved our credit recovery program for our high school students
  • We started the work to improve upon our district code of conduct
  • We initiated an overall update of our bylaws
  • Our security staff is better trained and better prepared than ever before
  • We made major personnel & programmatic changes in the Bilingual Program
  • We addressed Common Core State Standards district-wide
  • We took on a K-1 Literacy Initiative as well as a Middle Grades Literacy Block Restructuring Effort
  • We installed a District Supervisor for Mathematics and Science to better improve our performance in the K to 8 grades
  • We now have every school staffed fully at the administration level and at an estimated 99% level at every other position
  • We now have a Dean of Students at the High School
  • We now have department chairs t the High School to better guide and support our staff and implement policies and procedures
  • We started to create pacing guides and benchmark assessments K – 8
  • We started environmental work to facilitate the building of another elementary school
  • We authorized our Business Office to engage in the initial stages to procure land that will allow the State Department of Education to build us a new high school

While these achievements demonstrate our commitment to the residents of our city, specifically to our students, this board cannot rest on its laurels. The task ahead is at least as daunting as last year’s. Last year’s board was committed to getting us back on track to correct curricula issues and heal our wounded district. Led by our interim superintendent and my predecessor Mrs. Gonzalez, we took giant steps in those directions. Nevertheless, this year will prove to be just as challenging in setting the course in a direction that is more in line with the vision of this board. This year, through the superintendent, we will work to improve the way the district is being administered. Our intent is to have as effective and transparent a district as practical.

To accomplish that, there has to be change in the way we do business on a daily basis. This will not sit well with the few that do not have the best interest of this district at heart. We must tow the line to eliminate waste, deft, inefficiencies, unfairness, and procrastination. Thus, this board and the superintendent must and will conduct a top to bottom review of the structure of this district, analyze the findings, arrive at conclusions, make recommendations and implement them. It will be painful at times, but this board believes that we have an excellent staff, all the necessary funds to succeed, curricula that targets gaps, challenges our students and prepares them for the future, and, our students are eager to learn.

Let us now start the work that will ensure that all these parameters are working together to achieve success.

I thank my fellow board members and the citizens of this great city for allowing me to be part of the team that will help our students compete and excel for the foreseeable future in this very competitive world. Thus, I ask my fellow board members to be the access to the school district that our residents expect us to be, to support our students daily with our presence in classrooms, school events, sports and academic competition, PTO meetings, and whenever and wherever our staff requires our participation. While staying within board constraints, we have to set the example by being proactive, open, inquisitive, involved, hard working, and above all – maintain our honesty and integrity beyond reproach.

You gave us your trust, now we ask for your patience and understanding while we set in motion many of the changes that you put us here to initiate and complete.

Thank you!

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MON. Jan 22
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4:30 p.m.
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