To Fence or Not to Fence at VF Middle School? Safety Consultant Says Yes (plus a lot more!)

Fencing April 2015The TE School District saga of the fencing project at Valley Forge Middle School continues.  We learned on Thursday, through the District’s website, that the “Final Report on Fencing at Valley Forge Middle School’ was available to the public.  Or so we thought.

In September 2015, the District contracted with Ken Trump and his firm, National School Safety and Security Services to conduct a school safety assessment to evaluate fencing at VFMS.  A 3-day site visit was conducted on November 18-20.  On the final day of their site visit, Trump and his associate Charles Hibbert presented their preliminary findings at a District Facilities Committee meeting.  The long-awaited final report, dated January 8, 2016, was reviewed by the school board and administration and then uploaded to the District’s website on Thursday, January 28.

More about the final report in a minute but first, I need to explain that the consultant’s report mysteriously “disappeared without a trace” from the District’s website yesterday (Saturday) and then mysteriously “reappeared” late today without explanation. Word has it that there was some kind of computer glitch.  Interesting.

Much contained in the final VFMS fencing report was expected and very similar to the presentation by Trump at the Facilities Committee meeting in November.

Although hired to evaluate the fencing at VFMS, sadly the report also contains an unnecessary and offensive tone in regards to the community.  The report includes a negative critique of residents and their viewpoints and, in my opinion, comes across sounding very unprofessional. In describing the input from community members, Trump stated, “We found their opinions to be entrenched, their objectivity skewed, and the attacks by some of these individuals upon the consultants’ recommendations and intellect to be disingenuous.”  The report suggests that resident’s opposition to fencing had to do with “furthering entrenched personal and power struggles with select district board members and the administrators. “  Wow.

Bottom line is that Trump recommends fencing at Valley Forge Middle School.  According to the report, the fencing at VFMS provides “risk reduction benefits” which will ‘mark’ the school boundaries and deter deer, fox and dogs!

The report recommends five foot minimum (six foot preferred) chain link fencing to enclose the upper field and track.  Along Valley Forge Road (Rt. 252), the consultant recommends five foot minimum (six foot preferred) chain link fencing.  It should be pointed out that a variance would be required by Tredyffrin Township’s Zoning Hearing Board as the recommendation exceeds the height restriction of fences.

Trump closed his report by stating that the “community convenience, as well as community individual or group specials interests, cannot continue to drag out what is an already over-extended process …” A rather judgmental comment  by the consultant on the community  and  remember that we paid $15,500 for this report.

So what’s the next step?  At the January Facilities Meeting, chair Virginia Lastner stated that the consultant’s fencing report would be discussed at the next meeting on Thursday, February 18, 5 PM at the Administration Building.  A full school board discussion with the public should happen at the regular school board meeting on Monday, February 22, 7:30 PM at the high school.

For the sake of transparency and public involvement, the VFMS fencing project deserves a place on the agenda at the regular school board meeting on February 22.  Before the school board makes a decision in this matter, all options or possible compromises need to be fully vetted in front of the public. Presumably the vote on fencing at VFMS will take place at the March 28 school board meeting.

31 Comments

Add a Comment
  1. Hi,

    Could someone please bring me up to speed. I don’t go to Facilities Meetings and I don’t live in Chesterbrook but I am a citizen who wants to be aware of how tax dollars are spent.

    Did Mr. Trump and Mr. Hibbert attend Facilities Committee meetings? They say,

    “We found their opinions to be entrenched, their objectivity skewed, and the attacks by some of these individuals upon the consultants’ recommendations and intellect to be disingenuous.”

    That sounds like a bold statement from a consultant hired by the district and paid for with tax payer money.

    And this statement is confusing to me:

    “community convenience, as well as community individual or group specials interests, cannot continue to drag out what is an already over-extended process …”

    Does this mean that the initiative to erect fencing was a foregone conclusion all along? It makes me question whether citizens ever really had a say in the process. It sounds like the decision was made long ago and now the decision makers are impatient and furious because citizen tax payers continue to ask for reasonable and logical explanations for this action.

    Can someone please shine some light on this for me.

    Thank-you.

    [Reply]

    Pattye Reply:

    Trump & Hibbert did a TESD site visit Nov. 18-20. On Nov. 18, there was a public meeting open to the residents with the consultant. Many residents showed up and provided comments to the consultants. In addition, the consultants visited all 8 schools and spoke with administrators, teachers, staff, etc. A preliminary report on their findings was presented at the Facilities Meeting on Nov. 20.

    I really don’t see the value in the $15,500 expense. Interested residents have consistently opposed the fencing on Valley Forge Road and all they got for their efforts is an offensive response from the consultant.

    [Reply]

  2. Based on my reading there are two opposing schools of thought on school security. Kenneth Trump represents the older, traditional school. There is a new philosophy that is gaining acceptance and credibility among emergency responders. Here is an interesting article outlining some of the differences. The proposed VFMS fencing would be a liability in their opinion. I am sure that Art McDonnell chose Trump because he knew he would back the fencing proposal. If you read about Ken Trump, it’s clear he would not have made another choice. Here is an article link if you want to read more about he opposing view: http://www.campussafetymagazine.com/article/physical_security_are_we_protecting_people_or_trapping_them#

    [Reply]

  3. BTW, it looks like the older view came from a response to drive by shootings in California schools. Here is another interesting article: http://www.alicetraining.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/Origin-of-Lockdown.1.pdf

    [Reply]

    Shining Light Reply:

    TE Parent, Two great articles. The first, Physical Security: Are We Protecting People or Trapping Them?

    Evacuation should be the first response, not lock down. If there’s no one there, no one gets hurt. The intruder has to think, search and this makes focusing on one thing impossible.

    And this has been my argument all along, most security breachers are students or former students who know the facility well. How is a fence going to stop them?

    Please read these articles. They are very good. Maybe someone should forward them to the consultant.

    [Reply]

    Joseph Hendry Reply:

    Thank you for you kind words in reference to my articles. I hope this works out for the best for everyone involved.

    [Reply]

  4. Oh well……it’s only (our) money. Besides, the school board will be sure to recapture the expenditure in next year’s 4% tax increase.
    By the way, security?? I’m 6′, 180lb, and 72 years old. Anyone wish to come and watch me scale a 5 or 6′ chain link fence?

    [Reply]

    Say NO to the fence Reply:

    If a 12′ fence at the White House can’t keep people who breach security there, how is a 5′ or 6′ fence going to do ANYTHING at our schools? I was under the impression that this was for attacks on our schools and not for deer, fox and dogs….give me a break (in my taxes). Sorry, this is just getting out of hand and you know we, the residents of TE, will lose this battle.

    [Reply]

  5. Having witnessed the entire process of ‘fence-gate’ in person from the jump (as an adjacent property owner to VFMS), the Consultant’s snarky report was a fitting denouement to what was an exercise in misuse of responsibility the TE School Board and a total miscalculation of their authority to do as they please. In all the dealings with the School Board and Facilities Committee that I was personally involved in, there were no direct personal attacks by residents or their representatives against, for example, the Facilities Chairperson who was honcho-ing the entire process. Things were generally kept at a civil level during Facilities meetings, at least from the Residents’ end of things. During the Consultants Dog and Pony show in November (which by the way was basically a vanilla rendering of the efficacy of school fences in general) there were sharp challenges to him by residents, but never the sort of ad hominem attacks that he spewed forth in the final report.. I thought the Consultant project was throwing bad money after bad money to begin with, but to then have insults hurled at me and my fellow residents highlighted Trump and Hibbert’s total unprofessionalism. And for the newly elected School Board to not insist on a re-write, or a cleaned up Report, cutting all the attacks on community members, is both puzzling and disappointing. Hope we can all put this one in our rear view mirrors quickly..

    [Reply]

    Shining Light Reply:

    Thank-you Pete and other commenters.

    Even though I was not at the Facilities Committee meetings or the meeting with the consultants in November, I have never known or witnessed citizens being rude or disrespectful to any School Board Director or Administrator in Committee meetings or Board meetings I have attended. I have witnessed and experienced personal attacks from the previous Facilities Chair on myself and other citizens over the years.

    I too am wondering why the new School Board Directors allowed such an unprofessional and offensively impolite report to be directed at Tax paying citizens who have a constitutional right and responsibility to over see where their hard earned tax dollars are going. It is disturbing and disappointing.

    [Reply]

  6. This report should be rejected out of hand. It is not the role of a safety consultant to comment on the community. More importantly, there is rally nothing in the report that highlights exactly what safety issues will be impacted. It is a travesty that the school board wasted $15,000 on this, and i do hope the newly elected members honor their promises to oppose this wasteful and useless proposal.

    [Reply]

    Shining Light Reply:

    Chesterbrook Resident is correct.

    This report from the Safety Consultant is inappropriate and unacceptable communication by any reasonable measure of communication becoming of a hired consultant, District Employee or School Board Director. This treatment of citizens is offensive in any circumstance especially reports written and directed at District tax payers.

    It was a waste of tax payer dollars and someone should be held accountable.

    [Reply]

  7. The question to any major expense by any governmental agency should be “What benefit to the community is achieved and at what cost?” I read the consultants report and frankly it did not address that question. It merely stated that “in their opinion” everyone would be safer.

    While, one is intuitively inclined to agree, there is no argument or supporting data there is a corresponding increase in student safety with the emplacement of a fence. Would the tragedy at Sandy Hook been prevented by a higher fence? Would the tragedy at Umpqua Community College been prevented with a fence? One would like to think it would be so simple, but it isn’t.

    Fences are like laws. Good people pay attention and bad people don’t care. We would like to think it is simply but a fence will not keep bad people out.

    Dr. Anderson

    [Reply]

  8. I’ve given and received very many consultant reports over the decades, but this is the first I’ve seen with personal invective against one of the affected constituencies. And that strange use of “disingenuous”; I gather that the criticism of the consultants’ intellect was the reverse – quite candid and sincere – so this kind of proves the citizens’ point. The solicitor clearly chose the wrong parts to redact if the objective is to use the report to develop a common understanding.

    It is easy of course to make a qualitative case for any measures that limit access to school facilities. What is not so easy is to weigh the costs – from the initial trampling the legal rights of neighbors (not even mentioned!), from the loss of the customary use of that community space, from the risks from restricted exit, and of course from the capital and maintenance costs of the fence itself.

    Which I guess is where the Board comes in. Hopefully they have a practical understanding of all the costs and benefits and competing priorities for limited taxpayer dollars, and can come to a wise conclusion. While trying to ignore the sunk cost of that consultant report, which is indeed lost in a very deep hole.

    [Reply]

  9. I totally agree with Dr. Anderson…a fence will not keep bad people out. But don’t forget, it will keep the deer, fox and dogs away who do so much harm to our children!!!!!! So much money spent for a ridiculous report that makes me laugh. I wonder when it disappeared on the website and then reappeared was there anything different on the 2nd one??

    [Reply]

    Doug Anestad Reply:

    It is not the deer, foxes, and dogs you have to worry about. It is the squirrels. I heard that they can be nutty; and kind of squirrelly.

    [Reply]

  10. A couple of comments regarding “Say NO” and Ray’s points.

    I think it’s pretty clear that the fences are not about saving kids from security breachers. And they’re not about keeping fox, deer, dogs, sheep and wolves out or about keeping kids in or providing greater security for the District.

    I don’t know what they’re for, I don’t get it. And I don’t think anyone understands it. Maybe it’s about self promotion.

    Clearly appealing to logic and reason is not the answer. It comes down to the Board vote, plain and simple.

    Ray, good point about the strange use of the word disingenuous.

    “and the attacks by some of these individuals upon consultants’ recommendations and intellect to be disingenuous.”

    So they’re saying that the supposed attacks on the consultants by the citizens were disingenuous? How can an attack be insincere? Why would someone attack a recommendation or someone’s intellect at a public meeting and be insincere about it. It makes no sense. Is that the objective?

    [Reply]

  11. In describing the input from community members, consultant Trump states:

    “We found their opinions to be entrenched, their objectivity skewed, and the attacks by some of these individuals upon the consultants’ recommendations and intellect to be disingenuous.”

    This is a statement to and about the community from a consultant whose fee was paid for by the community.

    Why would he write this? Why would the Board allow it to be released to community members…………..on a Sunday?

    If this is how highly paid District employees, and School Board Directors voted in by the community choose to allow community members to be addressed and treated by consultants chosen and hired by the highly paid District employees, then we have a big problem here folks.

    And it has nothing to do with fox, deer, squirrels, and security breachers.

    [Reply]

  12. I attended the Pubic Information Committee Meeting last night. It was fun. Scott Dorsey, Chair of the committee facilitated and did a great job. Committees members Michele Burger, Roberta Hotinski and Kate Murphy were on hand as well as Ed Sweeney, Doug Carlson and Todd K.

    That darn heat fan was blasting more frequently and louder than ever making it impossible for me to hear what the Board was saying so I moved my chair,— pushed to the back of the room as far as the back wall would allow—–closer to to the table where the Board Members sit.

    I opened the meeting in the public comment section talking about the letter that the highly paid consultant wrote to the public posted to the district website last weekend. I polled each Board Member individually to get an understanding of what each one thought of the letter and if they were comfortable with the tone of the letter and I wanted to know if any of them objected to it being released to the public. More than a few were not comfortable with the tone of the letter, and explained that they thought that in the spirit of transparency the report in it’s entirety should have been released. I accepted that as a valid and worthwhile explanation so I asked who was responsible for hiring someone who would write a report like that. I was told that it would be discussed at the next Facilities Committee meeting.

    The discussion centered around public comment procedure at School Board Meetings. I would appreciate it if other community members would write about this. The conversation was very good, meaningful and productive, but I’m not going to talk about it because I feel the same way a Board Member feels, who gave a very good, HONEST, OPEN and DIRECT (refreshing, thank-you!) explanation about what School Board Meetings really are about.

    The real work is done in Committee meetings. By the time an issue gets to a School Board Meeting, votes are taken on decisions that have already been made in committee meetings. I don’t have a problem with this. The real issue is that citizens believe when they come to a Board Meeting and give their opinion, that this will influence the vote of Board Members. 99% of the time, it does not. I will note that a board member highly objected and relayed a story about a time they were influenced by 12 citizens who spoke during the comment section.

    I won’t use individual Board Member names in my reports because a Board Member stated at the end of the meeting that they didn’t want citizens to individually poll Board Members for their opinions. Out of respect, I won’t poll board members individually and I won’t report about individual Board Member opinion, but I think I should be able to do that.

    Before adjourning, I was grateful that a Board Member asked the Supt. to explain the computer glitch effecting the district website over the weekend. Again, I’ll leave that to another community member for comment.

    In closing, I found all Board Members to be engaged with the issues, knowledgeable enough to ask good questions and offer worthwhile suggestions. I really like the President. —— Refreshing, Honest, Open, Direct Courageous, and Independent but works well with others.

    [Reply]

    Ray Clarke Reply:

    SL accurately reflects the constructive tone of the Public Information Committee meeting, following through on newly elected members’ commitment to improve the Public Comment process at Board meetings. The pilot from last time was formalized (5 minutes per speaker, including responses from the Board), and guidelines established for the meeting chair (usually the President of course) to manage high interest topics. The much-derided random translation of comments to the screen is, I think, history. (Although I can never be quite sure of the conclusions until we see them articulated and in practice).

    Although SL rightly recognizes that direction is almost universally set in Committee meetings, I do believe that the quality and quantity of public comment, both received and (maybe more important) anticipated, can influence outcomes. And I hope that our new Board does not follow in its predecessor’s footsteps and believe that every decision must be unanimous.

    The other business last night was to hand out a draft of a survey to assess resident communication preferences. A good step – although of course it assumes that we know enough already to communicate the existence of the survey ….

    The astonishing discussion going on at the MLM web-site now about Lower Merion’s communication practices (the teacher contract agreed last year not yet published, and seemingly carrying forward language about orthodontia (of all things!) that is open to multiple interpretations), shows that TE has made great strides in comparison. I hope that more residents will turn out to the March Public Information meeting to continue that progress with action on web site archiving, meeting minutes detail, meeting broadcast, etc. that the Committee did not get to last night.

    It’s interesting to note that the more the transparency, the more information the public has to work with, and the more opportunity for alternative scenarios and conclusions to be presented. The Board has to be open enough to take the next step and leverage those inputs. The ongoing legally-defined Reapportionment discussion may be one example where it’s important for the quality of the analysis to match the openness of the process.

    [Reply]

  13. I hope that the quality and quantity of public comment, both received and (maybe more important) anticipated, can influence outcomes too, but really, it is what it is, and I’ve thought about this. How else can we do it?

    Public comment helps shape attitudes, opinions and beliefs in committee meetings. Board Meetings are for show and it is an uphill battle and an unreasonable expectation to go to a Board Meeting and expect a Board Member to change their mind on a decision they have analyzed for months in committee and are going to a Board Meeting to vote on.

    I think it would be better to educate citizens on how the system really works. We’ll hear your opinion at Board Meetings, it may or may not influence how we think down the road, but right now, our minds are made up, the decision has been made and we’re going to cast our votes. Because it really works this way, all committee meetings should be scheduled in the evenings. Education meetings are 1:00p.m. Very difficult for me to make that time but I do it time because it’s important to me.

    I like that we’re focusing on public comment process at Board Meetings. It’s very important to pay attention to making sure citizens get the best opportunity to speak and be heard, no matter what meeting they attend. Whenever citizens speak out, it has the potential to influence the outcome. We have to make sure they feel safe and comfortable without fear of retribution or retaliation.

    I think it’s more important that we have commitment from the top for an open communication style where citizens can speak more freely and receive answers that reflect their questions.

    Can someone comment on the computer glitch explanation given at the end of the meeting.

    [Reply]

    Ray Clarke Reply:

    I’m not an expert (by any means!) but I found credible the explanation that the report was linked under an “in the news” item that reached its expiration date on January 30th. The report was still up on the site and could be accessed through the link provided in the weekly email blast the day before. Hopefully the district can set up an alert to stop something similar happening again.

    [Reply]

  14. Another quick comment regarding discussion in the meeting about what to do when either side crosses over into unacceptable conduct towards each other.

    The Supt. immediately stated that the Solicitor (Ken Roos) would handle issues surrounding unacceptable behavior. Ken Roos has demonstrated a much softer, gentler and kinder tone since this new Board took power, but in the past, IMO, Ken’s tone and action towards citizens showed that he was the one who needed to be rebuked. Ken is the solicitor for L.M. and Radnor.

    L.M.S.B. is being sued by a prominent Attorney claiming that the School District has misled Tax paying citizens.

    I learned from reading an article in the MLMN maybe a year ago when a Radnor Director or Commissioner, stated in a meeting to a Radnor resident (and lawyer) “Somebody shoot you”, the resident immediately called for the other Board members to rebuke the Director.

    re·buke
    rəˈbyo͞ok/
    verb
    verb: rebuke; 3rd person present: rebukes; past tense: rebuked; past participle: rebuked; gerund or present participle: rebuking

    1.
    express sharp disapproval or criticism of (someone) because of their behavior or actions.
    “she had rebuked him for drinking too much”
    synonyms: reprimand, reproach, scold, admonish, reprove, chastise, upbraid, berate, take to task, criticize, censure;

    https://www.google.com/?gws_rd=ssl#q=define+rebuke

    If I am ever spoken to again like I have been spoken to in the past by District employees or Board Members, I will ask for a rebuke.

    When I mentioned this in the meeting, it was clear to me that Board Members had no idea what I was talking about.

    [Reply]

  15. Ed Sweeney left the following comment on his ‘Ed Sweeney for Tredyffrin-Easttown School Board’ Facebook page this morning. Because it relates to the school district’s Public Information meeting and the recently released VFMS fencing safety report, I thought it important to include on Community Matters. It is understood that his comment is his own and does not necessarily represent other school board members or of the District:

    There was a successful public information committee meeting this week that resolved going back to a BOS model with good input from all. There was good attendance by Directors and it was an engaging dialogue with all there, including citizens in the audience. Committee Chair Scott Dorsey did a fine job. I thank Chairman Carlson for his placing this matter to the forefront, his attendance at the meeting, and his input at the meeting. He made good points on needing to have a more respectful dialogue. I will fight for this meeting to be the first step on the broader notion of appropriate communications/interactions with the public.

    At the meeting, one of our regulars, Barbara, raised the issue that recent expert report commissioned to look at fence safety surprisingly disparaged our community members against the fence issue. She wanted to know did each of us “authorize” the report going out with such comments in them. Once a report is commissioned, we all have a duty, whether we like the report or not or think it is biased or inappropriate, to release it for public consideration. Moreover, new board members did not select this particular expert and should not be viewed as even commissioning this particular report for accountability purposes. Obviously, I felt that this expert did not render an expert report that was in best keeping with the professional standards of this community in that it attacked personally the members of our community, a more than somewhat odd feature in a report designed to supposedly inform and persuade. However, transparency demands we allow the community to see as much of the report, “warts and all” (and there are really gigantic warts here to say the least), and let TE residents give it the weight it deserves and critique it as they see fit. An expert report is only as good as the data and information that supports its conclusions.

    Disclaimer. The foregoing opinions are my own and not the Board’s or the District’s.

    [Reply]

  16. I think whoever recommended to the Board to O.K. the release of this report did so because it echos their sentiment and attitude towards the public.

    [Reply]

  17. Disappointing
    Having the consultant write disparaging remarks in his fence report about the community—a community who is concerned for the safety of our school children, is disappointing.

    But why did the solicitor allow the report to be released to the public? Why didn’t the solicitor go back to Mr. Trump and ask him to revise his inflammatory wording against the community before releasing the report?

    SCHOOOL SAFETY-A neighbor posted on the Valley Forge Civic Association’s blog that she had a meeting at VFMS last week. She entered through the back of the school—the gymnasium entrance. She described how she had access to the ENTIRE school. She went on to say anyone could have access to classrooms etc. She eventually made her way to the school’s auditorium for her meeting.

    Conversely—West Chester High School—I had a meeting two weeks ago at the school. I entered through the gymnasium entrance where they had volleyball practice taking place. I tried to make my way to the school’s auditorium yet they had the doors locked–no access to the school. One had to go back outside in order to get to the auditorium.

    This is an example of school safety the TE community has been asking for—within the school. The same community that Mr. Trump disparages in his fence report. It can be argued, placing fencing outside, presents a false sense of security.

    It’s disappointing to see an administration that would rather insult the community instead of working with the community.

    [Reply]

  18. There had to be enough School Board eyes on this report prior to its release on the website for someone(s) to raise their hands and put the brakes on the inflammatory nature of the language. The body of the report itself only occasionally lapsed into sense….throwing in all the insults rendered it into a petulant middle school level term paper. I don’t buy Mr Sweeney’s laissez faire approach to not try and extricate the “warts” prior to release…at least lets pretend the Consultant had some modicum of professionalism. The incendiary nature of the report makes everyone look bad, including the SB which commissioned it.. I tend to agree with Shining Light..there were enough ‘holdovers’ from the SB which commissioned the Consultant to suggest that they were driving this bus and wanted to make a statement of some kind..I have a hard time believing, on the other hand, that the newly elected folks would let this be released “as is”.. Just my 2 cents.

    [Reply]

  19. Agree with Pete Stanton. When polling Board Members I was relieved to hear most say they thought the report inappropriate and not in keeping with the professional standards of this community, but I was surprised to hear them say that once a report is commissioned they have a duty to release it to the public.

    Administration works for the board who in turn represents and serves the interests of tax paying citizens. In no way does this report serve the interests of the public.

    This was a way for District Employees and maybe some hold over board members to use a consultant to do their bidding and disparage the character of the public.

    This is unacceptable and inappropriate behavior. Maybe I should ask for a rebuke at the next Public Information Committee meeting in March and like Pete, I am surprised the new Board Members allowed this to be released.

    [Reply]

  20. I attended the Education Committee Meeting yesterday at the TEAO. Chairman Scott Dorsey facilitated a wonderful meeting which attracted alot more citizens than usual because he had to change the start time to 5:00p.M. from 1:00P.M. Attending were Education Committee Members Kevin Buraks, Roberta H.,Kate S. along with Board Members Michele B., Virginia L., and Todd L.

    In the Public Comment Section at the beginning of the meeting, I asked about the alleged hazing incident and the Supt. answered questions about police procedure and reporter protocol.

    The Network (I agreed in a previous post to withhold names) Administrator created and presented a lengthy, elaborate presentation on in School Technology Access where Administrators are proposing to provide laptop computers to every CHS student.

    There was spirited discussion focusing mostly on cost (someone correct me if I’m wrong) $400.00 per laptop for roughly 2,500 students – not including tech support, maintenance, breakage and costs going forward, true value of the initiative and invasion of privacy issues.

    A citizen distributed handouts describing many unintended consequences of going forward with this initiative.

    http://www.wnyc.org/story/why-hoboken-throwing-away-all-its-student-laptops/

    -We had “half a dozen kids in a day, on a regular basis, bringing laptops down, going ‘my books fell on top of it, somebody sat on it, I dropped it,’ ” said Crocamo.We bought laptops that had reinforced hard-shell cases so that we could try to offset some of the damage these kids were going to do,” said Crocamo. “I was pretty impressed with some of the damage they did anyway. Some of the laptops would come back to us completely destroyed.”

    Hoboken school officials were also worried they couldn’t control which websites students would visit. Crocamo installed software to block pornography, gaming sites and Facebook. He disabled the built-in web cameras. He even installed software to block students from undoing these controls. But Crocamo says students found forums on the Internet that showed them how to access everything.

    I spoke about invasion of privacy and how students don’t realize that when logged on to the school’s wi fi system, the Network operator and therefore District employees have access to personal student files and downloads. When asked, the Network Administrator said he did not know how many students currently log on to the School’s wi fi system. I stated that in my experience, when students find out that there is no privacy, no security and that others have access to their files, they immediately make the decision to stay off the school system. Others attending said that their children log on to the wi fi system.

    I encourage citizens and especially parents to come to Education meetings to discuss this issue. I appreciate personal comments from parents. I really do and like most times after meetings, I had more than a few stop me in the dark night of the parking lot, to say how much they appreciated my great points and that they agreed with much of what I said. Please give your opinions about this initiative and others in the meetings, to the Board Members. This is your community, your school district. It’s your hard earned tax dollars that pay for this, you have a right and I believe responsibility to speak.

    I commented that even though I have asked for the members of the tech committee, the Network Administrator still refuses to give out that information, and I stated that this is a huge initiative that deserves and demands collaboration from all segments: Students, Parents and those proposing it’s implementation. A Board Member commented that we would look into that. (Thank-you!)

    In closing, the heat fan was in rare form, even for it. It blasted on long and hard for a while and then the strangest thing happened, the air conditioner came on. Citizens and Board Members did not skip a beat, pulling on their coats and jackets as they intently listened and maintained engagement in the process. After a while, the heat blasted hotter than usual and the coats came off, again without skipping a beat. If I’m not mistaken, the chairs were positioned closer to the Board table, making it easier to hear what Board members said.

    I am very impressed with Board Members, especially the new. They are engaged, interested, knowledgeable and ask questions and give comments. They don’t text during the meetings, eat junk food while crinkling the bag during public comment, nor do they file or clip their nails while citizens are speaking. Thank-you! Very refreshing experience! Thanks to the Supt. for being respectful of the process and sitting in an upright position with his feet on the floor instead lounging back with his feet perched on the Board Table, like we experienced in the past.

    It was nice to see ex-Board Members Karen C and Kris G. I hope they continue to come and give their valued opinions.

    [Reply]

    Pattye Reply:

    In light of a proposed 4.3% tax increase, I find the discussion of new expenditures troubling. Before the District makes a decision to roll out a 7-12 free laptop program, there’s much more discussion that needs to take place to substantiate need, costs, etc. I plan a specific post on this topic and look forward to related comments at that point.

    [Reply]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Community Matters © 2015 Frontier Theme