BOE 101 - FAQ

Confused about how things work at board meetings?  Click on the questions below to eliminate your uncertainties.  Can't find the answer to your question?  Feel free to email a board member directly.

What is the Board of Education?

Who can attend a board meeting?

When and where are board meetings held?

How long do most meetings last?

What is a typical meeting agenda?

Where can I find a copy of meeting agendas?

When/How may I address the board?

What is proper Board Meeting etiquette?

What are the main responsibilities of Board of Education members?

When are executive sessions held?

Who should I talk to when I have an issue or problem?

What is the relationship between board members and teachers?

What is teacher tenure?

Where do school districts get their money?

Who decides how this money is spent?

What say will I have in deciding what is taught and which textbooks are used?

What is the Board of Education?

The Bethlehem Township Board of Education is a 7 member elected body that adopts policy for the daily operation of schools and sees that school laws are properly explained, enforced, and observed.

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Who can attend a board meeting?

Anyone can attend a board meeting.

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When and where are board meetings held?

Regular Meetings are held on the first Thursday of every month.  Meetings are held in the Music Room, #135, of the Thomas B. Conley Elementary School located at 940 Iron Bridge Rd., Asbury, NJ, 08802.  The meetings begin at 6:30 pm.  Be sure to check the calendar to verify meeting dates.

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How long do most meetings last?

School Board meetings vary in length, with most averaging about two hours.  When discussing personnel, disciplinary or other confidential matters, the Board will move into executive session.

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What is a typical board meeting agenda?

  • Call to Order
  • Presiding Officer's Statement
  • Roll Call
  • Pledge of Allegiance
  • Closed Session
  • Return to Public Meeting
  • Correspondence
  • Superintendent's Report
  • Public Hearing
  • Committees Report
  • Public Comments
  • Board Action
  • Public Comment
  • Other Business
  • Noteworthy Dates
  • Adjournment

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Where can I find a copy of meeting agendas?

Meeting agendas can be obtained from all school offices.  They are also posted on the district website.

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When/How may I address the board?

Any citizen may address the Board at any regular meeting during the designated period called "Public Comments." Persons wishing to appear before the School Board are requested to contact the Board Secretary for placement on the agenda. A reasonable period of time, as determined by the School Board, will be allocated at each regular meeting for citizens to present matters of concern.

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What is proper Board Meeting etiquette?

The only time members of the audience may address the Board during a Board meeting is during the "Communications and Addresses to the Board" period, or at the Chairman's request. Flash photography is only permitted during special recognitions. Audience members are requested to turn off cell phones and to leave the room to carry on conversations.

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What are the main responsibilities of Board of Education members?

School board members have no power or authority except that which results from participation in decisions and actions of the board in an official session.  Actions or commitments by individual board members are without legal basis and have no binding commitment upon the district.  Also, a board member represents the entire school district in all matters pertaining to education.

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When are executive sessions held?

All meetings of the school board are open to the public, including teachers, except when specific notice is given for an executive session.  Such executive sessions are to be limited to discussion of the following:

    • Matters affecting school security;
    • Preliminary discussions on the selection, acquisition, or
      disposition of real property;
    • Personnel matters, such as the appointment, employment, or
      dismissal of employees, or to hear complaints or charges
      against an employee;
    • Negotiations tactics / parameters;
    • Pending litigation; and
    • Quasi-judicial proceedings, such as employment appeals or
      student discipline appeals.

Note: The purpose of an executive session must be announced prior to going intoclosed session.  Only the specifically announced subjects may be discussed, no votesmay be taken but minutes must be kept. The results of this meeting / conclusions /decisions are to be released in minute form when the need for confidentially no longer exists.

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Who should I talk to when I have an issue or problem?

Teacher: The teacher is responsible for the day-to-day education of students

Principal: The principal is responsible for the day-to-day operations of the school within the school system

Superintendent: The Superintendent translates policies that are defined by the Board of Education into actions.  He/she is responsible for the day-to-day operations of the school system.

Board of Education: The Board of Education ensures that the school system is run effectively. 

The function of the school board is not to run the schools but to see that they are run effectively. The superintendent is the person chosen to translate the will of the board into administrative action.  Teamwork and cooperation between the board and superintendent are essential. 

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What is the relationship between board members and teachers?

Officially, the board is responsible for adopting policies, rules, and regulations that define the responsibilities of teachers and for approving all employment contracts. Individually, board members should treat teachers, or any other school employees, in the same way they treat any other citizen of the district.  They should listen, but make no personal promises for remediating problems, but rather refer the individual to the proper authority (i.e. chain-of-command).

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What is teacher tenure?

State laws, union contracts, and local district policies spell out employment, discipline, and release procedures for all school employees. Careful legal steps must be followed to remove any employee from a school district job.

In New Jersey, tenure is the right to continuing employment after successful completion of 3 years and a day, and upon meeting certain criteria. Specific statutes and case law define the board's role in both retention of employees and the granting of tenure.  It is important to note that after September, 1991,  Superintendents are no longer eligible for tenure, but are to be employed with a negotiated contract for a period of not less than three years or more than five years.

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Where do school districts get their money?

Most districts derive the major portion of their revenue from local tax levies, with varying levels of aid received from the state.  Most districts also receive some revenue through special programs funded by the state and the federal government. Boards are governed in the amount of revenue they may raise through taxes by a "cap" set by the State.  A few districts in the State are appointed boards (as opposed to elected) and operate with a board of school estimate that sets the tax rate and the budget without having to go to the public via the election process.

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Who decides how this money is spent?

A district’s budget is the means to translate board goals into action, so the board should discuss implications of program needs and set parameters for budget development.  The superintendent then works with other staff members to draft a budget that attempts to actualize these board goals, student needs, complies with state laws and regulations, and stays within available district financial resources. Once the board approves the budget, the superintendent is responsible for administering and living within its limits and for seeking board approval of expenditures.

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What say will I have in deciding what is taught and which textbooks are used?

Since the decision-making authority is vested in the board and not in the individual members, you will be successful in achieving your personal goals and in implementing your personal ideas only if and when you can convince a majority of the members of the board that your proposals have merit.  As a board member, you have an obligation to not only to express your views but, once the decision is made, to accept and support the board's final decisions.

The school board can establish what will be taught, when and where it will be taught, to whom it will be taught, and with what materials it will be taught.  A professional staff of administrators and teachers is employed by the board to manage and carry out these instructional tasks, determining the ?who? and the ?how.?

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