CREST HAVEN – Freeholders passed a three-page resolution Oct. 25 calling on the state Commissioner of Education to rethink the value of the PARCC assessment test as a high school graduation tool. The board urged a "top-down review of the entire premise of state-mandated standardized high school exit exams."
In an unusually lengthy rebuttal of the PARCC test, the board noted that conflicting directions had been given by the commissioner.
On Oct. 30, 2014, he stated: "there are no formal procedures for parents to opt their children out of the 2015 administration of the PARCC assessment and implied that District Chief School Administrators take punitive action against parents who choose to opt out."
It further noted that the commissioner then gave "conflicting testimony on opt-outs at the State Board of Education meeting Jan. 7, 2015, and implied that school leaders should accommodate opt-outs."
"The seemingly inconsistent guidance provided by (Education) officials to CSAs continues to disrupt the educational environment of school districts by providing inaccurate and incomplete information regarding the diagnostic value of the assessment."
Further is pointed to state requirements that districts and charter schools whose spring 2015 PARCC participation rates were under 95 percent of eligible test takers to create a corrective action plan detailing how they would increase participation rates for this spring's PARCC."
The board added, "The majority of states have now dropped the high school exit exam as a requirement for graduation from high school."
It pointed to the state's public schools as having "one of the highest high school graduation rates and highest ratings on the National Assessment of Educational Progress and the National Bureau of Economic Research."
The resolution added, "The American Educational Research Association found that "high school exit exams increase incarceration rates and have no influence on employment and wages."
In other action the board:
Assigned Freeholder Jeffrey Pierson to head the Department of Health and Human Services, which was one of former freeholder Kristine Gabor's departments. Pierson will replace Gabor on some boards, commissions, and agencies.
Appointed Maria Kellett of Wildwood as a member of the county Women's Advisory Commission. Her term will expire Oct. 25, 2019.
Reappointed Robert Boyd of Cape May as a member of the Board of Education of the Cape May County Technical School District. His term will expire Nov. 1, 2020.
Awarded to Motorola Solutions Inc. a contract for $1.17-million under state contract to buy radio equipment for the new county-wide central 911 dispatch center at Lower Township Public Safety Building.
Awarded a $323,058 contract to Motorola Solutions Inc. to furnish and install an IP-based NG9-1-1 system for the Office of Emergency Management. It will allow for future expansion as municipalities join the central dispatch system.
Contracted with South Jersey Energy Co. (Camden County is lead agency) to purchase natural gas. Purchasing Agent Kevin Lare projected a savings of $94,000 next year via the contract. He said 10 municipalities joined with the county to purchase natural gas through the venture.
Agreed to buy two new, 2016 or 2017 16-passenger minibuses from Alliance Bus Group for $136,944. They will be used by Fare Free Transportation.
Awarded a contract to Hunter Keystone Peterbilt LP (d.b.a) Hunter Truck Sales and Service of Swedesboro to furnish a 2016-17 diesel tri-axel dump truck to the county Road Department for $213,160. It is capable of hauling about 25 tons of material, according to County Engineer Dale Foster.