September 3, 2020
As we step closer and closer to the start of the school year, we, the members of the Hunterdon Central Education Association (HCEA), are greatly looking forward to meeting our students and delving back into the work that we do. We have watched as Dr. Moore and his administrative team have worked tirelessly on the reopening plans and preparing the school for reentry. They have done an absolutely stupendous job at meeting the Anticipated Minimum Standards detailed in the NJDOE’s “The Road Back: Restart and Recovery Plan for Education.” However, we think it’s important to look more closely at that statement: they have done an absolutely stupendous job at meeting the anticipated minimum standards required by the government. Standards that were created so that we can bring our community’s children back into the classroom at minimal additional costs to the districts and in the quickest amount of implementation time. While many of those standards are based upon CDC recommendations, there is evidence that the CDC has watered down their recommendations in order to make them “doable” by school officials. Now, we have to ask you: if you were sending your child into a hospital for a medical procedure, how would you feel about having your child undergo that procedure if the hospital was only adhering to the minimum health and safety standards? Standards that were created to save the hospital money and time? Luckily our families will have the option to keep their teens home if they are uncomfortable with it, but that is not as easy an option for us, the faculty and staff at Central.
We look forward to seeing our students. We want to be back in our classrooms and our offices. But make no mistake: the measures put into place simply make the gathering and movement of students and staff in classrooms and hallways and stairwells safer than the typical year. They do not make bringing our teens together in these areas safe. As educators, with years of experience in the classroom, we can attest to the fact that schools are petri dishes of disease. We regularly see waves of illness, usually about three or four a year, with the first one generally starting around the second or third week of September. These waves become noticeable because we see a large number of teens coughing, sneezing and sniffling in the classroom and throughout the halls; we see more substitutes in the classrooms because we get sick too.
We are committed to doing our best to return to the physical classroom and making this school year a great experience for both our in-person and remote students. But we do have concerns, and we are reaching out to you because we need your help to make this school year work, and to prevent the spread of illness in the community. In addition to our concerns regarding the safety of sending just shy of three thousand teenagers back to school when the government has just barely begun allowing people to enter a movie theater, we are also concerned about the mental health of our students, which has been an issue for a number of years now, made worse, of course, by the isolation of COVID. We do not want to see our students have to go through a roller coaster of school openings and school closings, as is what will happen if students and/or staff begin to fall ill. Our greatest fear is what it will do to our students if a classmate were to pass away from this illness, or a family member, or a teacher. This will be devastating for them, and for us.
So here is what we are asking from you; here is how you can help:
- Buy your teen a mask (preferably several) that is comfortable on their face; one that they will not feel the need to adjust every time they talk or move.
- Work with us to help your teen adhere to the school’s masking and social distancing rules, regardless of whether or not your family agrees with them or believes in the seriousness of this disease.
- Keep your teen home, working remotely, if he or she is sneezing, coughing, or sniffling in any way. Even if it is not due to COVID, if your child is in this condition, they’re going to be lifting their mask, moving it, getting it wet, etc. It’s just safer and more comfortable for all if your child works from home on those days.
- Encourage your teen not to attend unmasked social gatherings with other teens in the community outside of school hours. The more we can do to prevent the spread of this disease outside of school, the safer we will be inside of school.
- Allow your teen to choose the all-remote option, and even encourage him or her to take that option. The fewer students in the building, the easier it will be to maintain social distancing measures, and the safer it will be for our staff, who have a much greater chance of complications from COVID than our teens do. While we understand that students want a return to normalcy and want the social interaction of school, school will not be normal and not nearly as social, unfortunately. We know that there were many challenges with remote instruction during this past spring, but we have worked hard over the summer to make improvements for the ‘20-’21 school year based on what we learned.
As stated, we are committed to making this year be the best it can possibly be, despite the challenges we face. We are eager to meet our students, both virtually and in person. And we look forward to working with the community to do everything we can to keep Hunterdon County as COVID-free as possible.
June 3, 2020
In light of the most recent increased attention to police brutality, the HCEA extends its deepest condolences to every family that has lost loved ones to race-based and institutionalized violence. We recognize that our nation grapples not only with the current flurry of violence, but also with centuries of racially motivated discrimination and its attendant trauma. Additionally, the disparate impact of the coronavirus pandemic on black and brown Americans has heightened the existing sense of isolation, desperation, and physical and economic insecurity of vulnerable families in our communities. These dual and compounding crises both highlight the same truth: “We are not safe until we are all safe… and we are only as safe as our neighbors.”
In teaching, we work to help students to overcome fear and prejudice, to seek out and solve mysteries, to make visible the invisible, to hear the unheard, to understand “the other” all in the hopes that they can work together to solve problems in their world. Educators and schools are the cornerstone of society and its institutions. We strive to give students the tools to be healthy individuals and to have healthy social relationships by fostering values of love of oneself and love for others, empathy, honesty, integrity, fairness, dignity, courage, and respect for life. The work of cultivating these values in our schools, in our homes, and in our neighborhoods is integral to building strong and fair institutions that can safeguard not just our opportunities in life, but our physical and mental health, our human rights, and “liberty and justice for all.”
Healthy, well-integrated public schools create healthy, peaceful, and just communities. In order to ensure that all students and staff members feel safe and secure in our school community, it is necessary for educators to engage in conversations about systemic racism, inequality, and privilege. Only by speaking honestly and listening with humility about race can we achieve reconciliation and begin to truly create a sense of wellness for all. We invite fellow educators and members of the community to join us in this work.
November 5, 2019
Want to burn off some calories before eating all that turkey? And at the same time support education?
Join Team HCEA at this year's Flemington Turkey Trot!
November 28, 2019
Click here to register for Team HCEA!
October 2, 2018
The HCRHS Education Association is proud to present the
Community Discussion Series
Schools are changing around the world. From alternative schools to charter schools to public schools, there are many different ways to "do school". However, many of the schools in Hunterdon County still operate under the same structures that have existed for decades. This discussion series has been created to explore reasons why we need to consider changing, ways we might want to change, and how we can overcome obstacles to change. Let's work together to reimagine schools and the learning that takes place within them!
|Forum 1: Viewpoints from Our Students - October 23, 2018
What is school like for your child or teen? We’d love to hear from you! Whether your child or teen is doing great, or is really struggling, his or her story can play a vital part in helping us to explore what needs to change in public schools to make sure ALL students are thriving. Join us in this round-table discussion to share your child or teen's story, and to help us to figure out what we can to do make school better for everyone. Click here to register for Forum 1.
|Forum 2: Let’s Hear It From the Business World - November 1, 2018
What skills do our young adults need to be successful in their careers? Are our schools helping students to develop those skills? Join us in this round-table discussion to explore the answers to these questions, and more. If you found your way to your career via an untraditional path, or if you are involved in hiring and training new employees, or even if you simply want to join in and learn more about it, we’d love to have you with us for this discussion! Click here to register for Forum 2.
|Forum 3: Defining “Learning” - November 12, 2018
What does “learning” actually mean? What do you believe and know about how kids (and humans in general) learn most powerfully and deeply? Are our public schools learning institutions, or teaching institutions? Join us in this forum to explore these questions about learning, and more. Click here to register for Forum 3.
|Forum 4: Reimagining School - November 28, 2018
We all know what school looks like, right? We arrive at school, go to math class, then English, then learn some history, all followed by some HW in the evening. But what if it doesn’t have to be this way. Is there a better way to “do school”? Join us in this forum to explore different ways that children and teenagers are learning around the country, and to share ideas on changes we might like to see happen here in Hunterdon County. Click here to register for Forum 4.
|Forum 5: Taking it Home - Making Change Happen - December 11, 2018
In the previous forums, we will have examined some of the current issues in education, and explored new ideas for learning. In this forum, we’ll work to further narrow down the changes we’d like to see in Hunterdon County, to identify obstacles to creating change, and to explore how we can actually make change happen. Click here to register for Forum 5.
All five forums are free and open to the public.
Forums will take place from 7-8:30 pm in Cafe 001 (the New Cafeteria) at HCRHS.
To get there, follow these directions:
From the south, go north on Rt. 31. Turn right at the light just AFTER the main entrance, onto Junction Rd. (the sign might say East Main Street). That is the corner where the 7-11 is. Go right into the very first HCRHS parking lot that you come to. As you enter the parking lot, hug the right side of the lot, so that you are headed towards the tennis courts on your right. Park in a spot near the wall where the tennis courts are and walk toward that entrance. Look for a sign that says "Cafe 001" and enter that door.
If you are coming from the north, head south on Rt. 31. Turn left onto Walter E. Foran Blvd. Turn right at the first light, onto Junction Rd. Pass the 11/12 building (with the glass front), pass the ropes course on your left. You will cross a little bridge. Turn left into the next parking lot. As you enter the parking lot, hug the right side of the lot, so that you are headed towards the tennis courts on your right. Park in a spot near the wall where the tennis courts are and walk toward that entrance. Look for a sign that says "Cafe 001" and enter that door.
May 28, 2018
The HCRHS Education Association is proud to be bringing the award-winning documentary, Race to Nowhere, to the Little Theater (located in the 11/12 building off of Junction Road) at HCRHS on June 11th at 6:30 pm.
Race to Nowhere was created in 2010 and features the heartbreaking stories of young people across the country who, at that time, were feeling pushed to the brink, educators who were burned out and worried that students weren’t developing the skills they need and parents who were trying to do what’s best for their kids. At the time the movie was made, cheating had become commonplace, students were disengaged, stress-related illness, depression and burnout were rampant, and young people were arriving at college and the workplace unprepared and uninspired.
It’s now 8 years later. Does this still ring true? How relevant is this film today? If you are a parent, student, or teacher, or even simply a concerned community member, join us in the viewing and discussion of the film and an exploration of how far we have come since the movie has been made, and what further changes we still might need to make.
Then, in the fall, we’ll also be holding a series of forums centered around the following topics:
- A Day in the Life of a Student: A Close Look at Whether Our Children are Thriving in School, or Simply Trying to Survive It, and Why
- Let's Hear It From the Business World: Are the Skills Our Students Learning in School Really the Skills They Need for the Careers of the Future?
- Defining “Learning”: How do Children (And Humans in General) Learn Most Powerfully and Deeply?
- Reimagining School: What are the Different Ways that Schools are Being Changed Around the World to Meet the Needs of Modern Learners?
- Taking it Home: How Can We Make Change Happen in Our Communities?
Click here if you'd like to be added to an email list in order to receive reminders about the fall forums.
Click here if you're planning on attending the movie and discussion on Monday, June 11th. RSVPing is not mandatory, but it helps us to get an idea of how many people will be coming!
We hope to see you on June 11th!
May 3, 2017
We’re pleased to announce that the HCRHS Education Association and the HCRHS BOE have settled the contract.
Thank you to all of you who supported us over the past two years by posting signs in your yards, coming to BOE meetings, and writing letters to the local newspapers and to the BOE! We greatly appreciate your efforts!
November 3, 2016
Teachers at HCRHS teach fewer instructional minutes than teachers in other high schools in NJ.
Teachers at HCRHS teach the same amount of time if not more than the teachers at similar NJ high schools. Our teachers are teaching an average of 220 per day, which is right on par with the average instructional minutes in schools with similar demographics. However, our teaching time at HCRHS does not stop at 2 pm. Three days a week, we continue teaching until 2:50 pm. This is face-to-face instructional time in which we are working directly with the students. Therefore, when calculating instructional minutes, our teachers at HCRHS teach an average of 244 instructional minutes per day, which is actually at the top of the range of how many minutes per day high school teachers in NJ are teaching. It’s important to also keep in mind that a lot of preparation goes into providing our students with a high-quality classroom experience. When we are not teaching, we are planning, preparing materials, meeting with counselors, contacting parents, filling out reports, grading papers, providing feedback, etc. There is plenty of work that has to be done outside of the classroom in order to give our students a great experience inside the classroom! We are not fighting to decrease our instructional minutes, but we are not willing to agree to increasing them. We know that this will not be good for our students! This is one reason why our contract is not yet settled and a big reason why we feel that we have little choice but to implement the type of job actions that have helped other associations in NJ settle their respective contracts.
The contract isn’t settled because the teachers are greedy.
The contract is being negotiated between the BOE and representatives from the HCRHS Education Association. As an “Education Association”, our most important mission is to promote a quality system of public education for all of our students. We care deeply about our students and our school and the quality of education that we provide. Many of our members also live within the sending districts, and we know that our property values are tied to the quality of the school system. We also know that it takes about 10 years for a teacher to become truly good at teaching, and that the first 5 of those years is extremely challenging for a new teacher. During those 5-10 years, a lot of money and time is invested in new teachers in order to help them be successful in the classroom. When a district does not stay competitive with other school districts in terms of salaries, benefits, and teaching loads, new teachers have a tendency to jump ship and move to another school district where they feel they will see more of a benefit for their hard work. In the past year and a half alone, we’ve lost several of our very talented and very dedicated teachers to neighboring school districts for better salaries and benefits. We recognize that we need our salaries, benefits and work loads to stay competitive with other school districts so that we don’t lose our teachers. However, we are not being greedy. We are simply asking for a settlement that is equal to the state average. Given that we are considered an above-average school district, we don’t think that we are asking too much of the BOE.
It’s the teachers’ fault that athletics are cancelled on Election Day!
When school was closed for an entire week because of Hurricane Sandy, athletic activities still took place. When HCRHS was closed on the day of the bomb scare a couple of weeks ago, athletic activities still took place that same afternoon. And yet, when school is closed because of Election Day, athletic activities are cancelled? Clearly, the BOE didn’t have to cancel athletic activities. The BOE chose to cancel the sports. That decision really had nothing to do with the teachers. Our coaches are very willing to coach their athletic events on Tuesday, if the BOE would allow them to.
October 16, 2016
People have recently been asking, "Why is the HCRHS contract not settled?"
One big reason is that the BOE wants to increase the teaching load of the majority of the teachers in the school, but our teachers know that this will not be good for our students, for our school, and for our community. Our students regularly come back to us after having moved on to college and report that they are able to excel in college as a result of how well we’ve prepared them, and that they see their classmates struggling because of a lack of preparation. Our students are so well prepared because we, the teachers, are well-prepared when we walk into our classroom each and every day! If our teaching loads increase, it will be difficult to provide the type of individualized feedback that we presently offer and that our students need to truly grow. It will interfere with our ability to create meaningful lessons that are geared specifically to the needs of each class. We will have less time during the work day to meet and communicate with parents and counselors regarding students’ progress, less time to reflect on the needs of our students and the changes we need to make to meet those needs, less time to collaborate with other teachers, less time to write college recommendations, and less time to plan and prepare for the other classes we are teaching. In addition, it will result in our teachers needing to work an additional four hours a week at home on average just to prepare for that one additional class. And what is the BOE offering to us is we accept this extra workload? Their offer would equate to a salary increase of about $40 a week for the average teacher...for four hours a week of extra take-home work. No thank you, BOE! We value our teachers more than that. We value our students more than that. We know that adding that extra class will not only result in burned out teachers, but will also result in new teachers jumping ship after only a few years when they learn that other schools offer their teachers an addition 10-20% of their yearly salary for taking on a sixth class. Is this what we want for our school? A never-ending rotation of young, inexperienced teachers? Experienced teachers who are burned out and overly stressed? Is that in the best interest of our students and our district? And yet the same BOE that claims that they need to make this change to our district in order to be fiscally responsible to the taxpayers is willing to spend millions of dollars on a weight room that is not needed and has millions of dollars of capital improvements planned for the future. They are willing to invest in the facilities, but not in the very people who are in direct contact with the students. So, we have said no to their offers. We have been unwilling to agree to their contract proposals. As the ones who work directly in the classrooms, with our students, as the ones who have the professional experience to know how this will affect our district, we cannot agree to something that would be so detrimental to our ability to do the work that we do.
Please support our decision by coming to Monday night’s (October 17) BOE meeting and speaking out for us. There are two public comment sessions, one in the beginning of the meeting for items on the agenda and one at the end of the meeting. If you speak, you would want to speak at the public comment session at the end of the meeting. Meetings typically run between one to two hours long and take place in the Little Theater starting at 7 pm.
October 4, 2016
The teachers, counselors, nurses, operations and maintenance staff, custodians, and support staff members of Hunterdon Central High School entered into contract negotiations with the HCRHS Board of Education over a year and a half ago, in January of 2015. After many months of meetings, impasse was declared. Although much progress was made during the many sessions that the two teams met, the Board has been unwilling to offer a fair and equitable contract. The main sticking points are the workload of the teachers, a competitive salary, and a reasonable contribution towards health benefits. The Association is NOT seeking to eliminate contributions towards their health benefits, but it is fighting for a fairer and more reasonable amount to contribute, much like the 31 other locals throughout the state that have already bargained this. In addition, the Association is NOT seeking to decrease the teachers’ workload.
The HCRHS Board of Education is very proud that Hunterdon Central is a two-time recipient of the national Blue Ribbon School of Excellence award. They take pride in the fact that NJ Monthly rated HCRHS as 44th in the state out of a total of 339 public high schools in 2014 and that Niche rated HCRHS 31st in New Jersey and 259th nationally. In addition, over the past eight years, six of Hunterdon Central’s teachers have been named as Hunterdon County’s Teachers of the Year, and many of our other faculty and staff members have been recognized by various organizations throughout the country for the work that they have done in the field of education. The HCRHS Education Association is proud of the work its members, the students, and families have done to earn such prestigious accolades, and feels its members should be compensated accordingly. It’s unfortunate that the Board of Education is unwilling to invest in the very people who make HCRHS the award-winning school district for which families move into the area.
We are presently at a stalemate in negotiations, and waiting for a third-party fact-finder to meet with us to help us solve our differences. Unfortunately, we have waited for this process of fact-finding for over four months so far and still have not been given notice of when it is going to occur. The Board has left us little choice but to implement the type of job actions that have helped other associations in NJ settle their respective contracts.
It is unfortunate that the Board's unwillingness to offer a reasonable settlement has brought us to this point. Why does it have to be standard practice to impact students in order to get school boards to negotiate in good faith?
We are not asking for anything unreasonable. We are asking for fair value for the great job that we know we do and to maintain our current workload so that we can continue to provide the high quality education for our students for which we are known. To that end, we are hoping that the voice of the community will help the Board see reason so that we can settle the contract and avoid impacting the students.
If you live within Delaware Township, Raritan Township, East Amwell Township, Readington Township or Flemington, we urge you to let your HCRHS Board of Education representatives know that you believe the staff at Hunterdon Central is worth a fair contract and that the BOE needs to return to the table with us with an offer that we can accept.
Shari Calabrese, HCRHSEA President, and the Members of the HCRHS Education Association
September 19, 2016
Unofficial BOE Meeting Minutes
The BOE meeting started with presentations from different groups that conduct Superintendent searches. Johannah Ruberto briefly covered all the items on the Interim Superintendent’s Report, as can be seen in the Agenda.
During the first residential forum, Bonnie Berenger, a resident of the community, questioned why there is even a need for a single-school superintendent to begin with. The BOE responded that it is due to state law.
Linda Blutfield presented the items that are listed on the Agenda under Finance and Insurance. She added that the committee also discussed the current criteria for the school’s “Pay to Participate” system and is working on making sure it is consistent across all areas. The committee will continue to be looking into this. All items were approved unanimously for this area of the agenda with no discussion.
Kathy Raborn presented the agenda items for the Curriculum and Technology Committee. She added that PARCC dates have been moved to the end of May, after the AP exams. There will be conflict on one day between the two exams which will affect a small number of students, and the Board and administration will make the necessary adjustments/accommodations for these students so that they will not miss either test. She mentioned that our score on NJ Monthly dropped from 44 to 57 and that this is because the criteria that they use to score schools was changed. She also added that some of the data that NJ Monthly uses to base their ratings on does not match our in-house data. She finished her report by stating that, this year, work is being done on figuring out different ways for teachers from various disciplines to work together better, students are taking more online quizzes, rather than paper and pen quizzes, and classes are doing more blogging than ever before. All items were approved unanimously for this area of the agenda with no discussion.
Robert McNally presented the agenda items for the Student Activities Committee. In addition to the items on the agenda, he mentioned that no exact policy exists about how the different clubs and activities are funded, so the committee is looking to create a policy. All items were approved unanimously for this area of the agenda with no discussion.
Jim Davidson presented the agenda items for the School/Community Relations Committee. In addition to the items that Jim presented on the agenda, the interim Superintendent, Johanna Ruberto, thanked the HCRHS Education Association for helping to work on the school calendar. All items were approved unanimously for this area of the agenda with no discussion.
Karen Palestini Falk presented the agenda items for the Buildings and Grounds/Supplies and Equipment Committee. In regards to the item on the agenda, she mentioned that the original bid for flooring and equipment for the new Fitness Center was originally around $171,000. All items were approved unanimously for this area of the agenda with no discussion.
Robert McNally presented the agenda items for the Transportation Committee. In addition to the items on the agenda, he mentioned that 6 requests were made to change bus stops which were discussed in committee meetings, along with a grievance from the bus drivers regarding health insurance. He also mentioned that a change in one of the bus routes will save the district money. All items were approved unanimously for this area of the agenda with no discussion.
Patrick Dugan presented the agenda items for the Human Resources Committee. The only thing added to the items on the agenda was to remove the statement regarding the third Back-to-School Night on page 12 of the agenda, which was an error as a third Back-to-School Night does not take place anymore. No discussion took place about the agenda items. All items were approved unanimously for this area of the agenda with the exception of several BOE members abstaining from a vote on professional development items that pertained to them personally, as is policy.
No one spoke during the Residential Forum at the end of the meeting.
Lastly, Robert McNally mentioned that on the way to tonight’s meeting, he had been approached by Jim Meert, a recently retired guidance counselor from HCRHS, who gave McNally a plaque to present to the BOE. The plaque was about Dr. David Meirs, a former principal who led the school to its first Blue Ribbon of Excellence. Meert had told McNally that it is important to recognize those people who have made the school what it is. The BOE accepted the plaque with gratitude.
After that, the meeting ended at around 8:30 pm.
The members of the Hunterdon Central Regional HS Education Association have been working under an expired contract since September of 2015. Our Association is made up of the teachers, counselors, nurses, secretaries, custodians and paraprofessionals who work at Hunterdon Central. While our Negotiations Team has been hard at work for a year and a half now trying to negotiate with the BOE for a fair and equitable contract to what other education associations have been receiving throughout the state, so far, they have been unsuccessful. Here are some of our concerns regarding the BOE's lack of willingness to offer us a contract that is equitable to what has been offered and settled on in similar high-achieving school districts:
- The longer it takes to settle the contract, the more disheartening it is for our members. To our members, the BOE's unwillingness to offer our team a fair and equitable contract is a sign that they do not value the work that we do and the many ways that we go above and beyond our required duties in order to support our students. It causes a huge lack of morale. Over the past year we have lost several excellent teachers to neighboring school districts due to this (and the higher salaries that they have been offered in those districts). Many more are talking about leaving.
- Our ability to maintain the standards that have helped us achieve our national blue ribbon status and our long-standing record of academic and extracurricular excellence will be impossible to continue if our association is forced to accept one of the BOE’s proposals regarding teaching load. How will it affect the value of your property if HCRHS loses its record of academic excellence?
- While the BOE has strived for 0% budget increases over the past seven years, cutting costs in every area (supplies, programs, staffing, operational costs), they have spent over $18 million in capital improvements over the past four years alone, and have another $8 million of capital improvements already approved for the future. And yet they are unwilling to offer our members a salary increase that is equitable to what is being offered to teachers in similar school districts. What does this say about their priorities?
Are you as concerned about some of their choices as we are? If so, please contact every member of the BOE and let them know this. Better yet, come to the June 20th BOE meeting and make a public statement. Ask them if the changes they are proposing to make to the employment contract are the type of changes that will attract and retain highly qualified teachers, or are they the type of changes that will cause teachers to want to leave after working at our school only a couple of years. Tell them that it’s time, after 7 years of working hard to be fiscally responsible to the taxpayer by cutting costs at every level, to be fiscally responsible in a different way: by investing in the very people who make Hunterdon Central the award-winning school district that people move into the area for. Urge them to preserve, or improve, the present working conditions and teaching load so that we can continue providing the support and services that we are known for, and that our students need in order to thrive in both high school and beyond.
President, HCRHS Education Association
PS: Please share this message with 10 people you know who live within Hunterdon Central’s sending districts (Flemington, Raritan Twp., Readington, East Amwell, and Delaware Twp.), and ask them to share it with 10 more people.
Welcome to the website of the Hunterdon Central Regional High School Education Association. Our site offers many features for both members and our community. Please visit this site often, since this is our best way to stay in contact with you outside of school e-mail. If you would like to see something additional on the site, please leave a comment in the Contact page.
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