Board of Education Meeting Superintendent Agenda Discussion Items

Posted by Dr. Nagy on 3/2/2024

At the Board meeting on Thursday evening there were two presentations.  Dr. Nagy thanked his two Assistant Superintendents Dr. Holley and Mr. Joseph for their informative presentations on Student Safety Data and interventions in both districts to address student disciplinary issues. The presentations are mandated twice a year by the New Jersey Department of Education. Dr. Nagy also acknowledged the great presentation by BCIT Medford Campus Principal, Michael Parker who provided a glimpse of the newest CTE program to be added in September 2024, Video Game Design and Esports. Dr. Nagy noted that we are really excited about this which has been two years in the making with construction being completed this summer for the new classroom space.  

The Board approved the 2024-2025 school calendars. Dr. Nagy thanked all of the administrators and members of the respective associations for the feedback and the dialogue which took place over the past two months. He also thanked all who contributed to the updated BCIT and BCSSSD Points of Pride Brochures on the respective District webpages. These are incredible reflections of the exceptional work done on all of the campuses.

The Board approved the submission of the Teacher Climate and Culture-Competitive Grant Application to the New Jersey Department of Education as well as partnership agreements, first and second readings of policies and regulations and BCIT amendments for ESSER II/ARP and ESSER III and the performance report.  The Board also approved the tuition rates for the 2024-2025 school year of which the Alternative Briggs Road Middle School tuition should reflect $29,000, the corrected amount. BCIT and adult education rates were also approved. Furthermore, the Board due to the interest in our Special Services School District, approved the proposal to add an autism classroom on the West campus. 

The Board approved a number of retirements to whom Dr. Nagy wished them the very best and gratitude for all of their contributions. He noted that the districts are in a better place because of their contributions.

Dr. Nagy noted that there will be a Special Board of Education meeting on March 7th at 8:30am and it will be virtual. The focus of this brief meeting will be on the approval of the BCIT and BCSSSD 2024-2025 budgets.

Dr. Nagy noted that the night of the Board meeting, the last day of February, represents an inflection point for this school year.  It is February 29th and a leap year and it is the last day of a month that is nationally dedicated to career and technical education which we celebrate each and every day in both districts. Furthermore, our districts are dedicated to celebrate diversity, equity and inclusion and this is the last day of a month dedicated to celebrating nationally Black History Month and the rich and diverse cultural experiences that enrich our daily lives and our curricula.  We are proud of the work of our students and staff as highlighted in our social media posts.

Following these remarks, Dr. Nagy shared a message at the Board meeting that he shared this week with the Board of Education regarding the announcement of his retirement effective July 1, 2024 which can be found on his blog dated March 1st and on the District website. See below:

Dear BCIT and BCSSSD Board of Education and Educational Community,

 It is with mixed emotions that I tender my notification of retirement effective July 1, 2024 as the Superintendent of Schools for the Burlington County Institute of Technology and Burlington County Special Services School Districts. I have enthusiastically served the children and families from across our entire County and will be sad to leave the districts, staff, students, community and work that I dedicated my life here to create a future of innovation, ongoing academic achievement, social and emotional wellbeing, engagement, safety and pride to be a graduate of BCIT or BCSSSD. All one has to do is look at our Points of Pride located on our respective district websites – they are a testament to the hard work of all in our districts and partnerships with our community.

I have had the honor to serve the Board of Education, our District employees, and the families and students of BCIT and BCSSSD for nearly ten years, eight of which were as superintendent. During that time period, together we have truly embraced a growth mindset and focus on providing our very best to the students and staff to position them to be able to flourish and perform at their very best levels. This was despite a pandemic which we embraced as an opportunity and not an obstacle. I cannot thank enough the efforts of my team of dedicated central staff members without whom over the past four years we could not have addressed a number of the headwinds and challenges during the pandemic and post-pandemic era.  I would like to start with Assistant Superintendent, Dr. Holley who has had oversight of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion efforts and oversight of the BCSSSD district operations. Her leading efforts positioned BCIT to earn the recognition of a Lighthouse District for Equity from the NJDOE.  I want to thank our other Assistant Superintendent, Mr. Joseph for his ongoing efforts to take the lead on the BCIT district side and to assure the ongoing success and that the positive momentum continue; Heather Cooper for all of her efforts and that of her team to address personnel related issues given that prior to her arrival, we did not have a dedicated personnel team in place; and Andrew Willmott, Business Administrator who has helped both districts enter into a number of grants during the pandemic, expansion grant of BCIT, state of the art playground planning and dedication at BCSSSD, signage, HVAC projects, new BCIT program renovations and  successful annual audits which reflect his attention to financial details.  It truly takes a village.

Having worked closely with the Board of Education, they can be proud of being honored with the Economic Development award from the Burlington County Regional Chamber of Commerce and the South Jersey Best of Biz for Technical Education as well as a Lighthouse House District for Equity by the New Jersey Department of Education as well as ongoing recognition of both districts for their rankings, national honors and best practices in the State.

When looking at our mission for both districts, namely, Discovering our Potential, I am proud that we as a central office team and cadre of dedicated and forward-thinking building level administrators made educational decisions based on a commitment to excellence, diversity, equity, inclusivity and opportunity to be the change staff and students wish to see in the world.  We can be proud to boast that our schools have received an honorable mention if not recognition as a State or Country recognized School of Character.  Both our districts are beneficiaries of the administration, staff, students and the community working together.

Looking back, I remember starting in the Adult Education Division ten years ago when we had no apprentices. Today, the adult division is Middle States Accredited, offers Federal Financial Aid and has 69 apprentices.

Soon after becoming the superintendent, I remember the pioneering work we did to create the transition campus at BCSSSD and partnership with RCBC to allow students to take college courses on the campus. I affectionately refer to BCSSSD as campuses where miracles happen. I reflect upon that time where many students were only able to communicate a few words and now that has expanded considerably.  I remember students in walkers and uncommunicative only to run up and receive their certificate of attendance while saying thank you this past year.  It is not by chance but because of the dedication of all of our staff. Since that time, we have seen our programs and innovations and use of technology grow exponentially receiving great press and accolades from the parents and school districts who send students to us.

Yet, BCIT and BCSSSD were relatively unknown.  To address this reality, I remember the efforts we had taken to adopt and train our administrators on social media channels and to encourage outreach to the community. We have enjoyed robust coverage on multi-media platforms since that time and have kept the community informed. As part of the effort, we also adopted a new branding campaign with our “B” logo which now is recognized everywhere.  BCIT and BCSSSD are now a known force within the County.

At BCIT, we made significant advancements adding many new Career and Technical Education programs including Video Game Design which will be added in the Fall. In addition, we are in the midst of the $20 million physical expansion of the footprint of both campuses to accommodate the growth in our programs.  Looking back eight years, as an educational futurist, a vision was set in motion to prepare a pathway for staff and students to embrace a world that would be known to be disruptive and unpredictable driven by technology. To that end, we adopted virtual reality and extended reality long before any school district embraced such immersive technologies. This summer and early Fall we embraced the need to adapt to the artificial intelligence advancements and all staff were trained on AI tools. We adopted a 1:1 Chromebook environment at BCIT and trained all staff two years before the pandemic to engage in synchronous and asynchronous learning. We were among the first in the country to offer a 1:1 in a CTE environment. When the pandemic hit, we were ready to go the following day to shift to remote. During the pandemic, we accelerated our learning of new apps and pedagogy and social and emotional connections to learning and wellbeing that allowed us to successfully migrate through those challenging years without missing a beat. In fact, recently we were just recognized as being ranked #2 and #3 among all high schools in Burlington County on various metrics including achievement. All of this is not by chance, but it is because of our creative, innovative, competent, forward-thinking, adaptable and solutions-oriented staff and support staff.

We together, with our team of administrators, teachers, support staff, and operational personnel, have truly contributed to the transformation of our two districts into desirable future ready schools where students from around the county recognize the value of what a BCIT or BCSSSD education provides.

We also could not do the work we do without the support of one of our biggest fans, Senator Singleton whose ongoing support has opened so many doors for our students and staff and community members.  To our Commissioner Director Felicia Hopson and Board of Commissioners, we thank you for your vote of confidence in the work that we do and the mission we serve to all of our students entrusted to us.  As we look at our campuses today, we are grateful to have a State-of -the-Art playground now at BCSSSD for the community to enjoy; a new building project at BCIT and a federal grant dedicated to the health and wellbeing of our students and staff at BCIT, secure buildings, HVAC systems among many other projects that have contributed to a positive and engaging environment for learning and flourishing all thanks to Senator Singleton and our Commissioners.

As superintendent, I thank our dedicated parents for entrusting us with their children.  Parents are true partners with our educational community to inspire our young people to pursue their dreams and work to their best potential.  The journey has not been easy, but we all adopted a mindset that difficult roads often lead to beautiful destinations, and the belief that obstacles can become the way.  I am reminded that as an educator and servant leader, there is no limit to what a district or where a district can go if it does not mind who gets the credit – the credit goes to my central office team, district and building level administrators, teachers, staff, the Board, the Commissioners, Senator Singleton and our community who working together are dedicated to the promotion of excellence for our students who in the end, are our primary focus. 

It is my hope that the districts are in a much better position than when I came 10 years ago.  It has also been my life’s journey to inspire others to be better iterations of themselves tomorrow than today and to prepare our young people to be informed and productive citizens. Our mission has been to position staff and students to be better prepared to embrace the future that does not yet exist and to be in a position to have agency to create the future in which one wants to work, learn and thrive. At the end of this school year, I will be honored to join our graduates as we look to a new horizon and new ventures while graduating together. 

I would like to personally thank each Board of Education member, present and former, for the opportunity to serve you and work alongside you. You are caring and dedicated professionals who give selflessly of your time and energy. We engage in important and worthwhile work that is focused on improving the lives of our children and families. This Board has never lost sight of this mission and calling to be a public servant to support students entrusted to us.

It has and will continue to be an honor to serve in these districts and with our dedicated Board and very capable leadership team in whom I have confidence until the end of this school year when they will enthusiastically embrace and build upon earlier successes. Any accomplishments we have achieved over the years whether personal or districtwide for BCIT and BCSSSD could not have been achieved without the hard work, dedication, and talent of the Board, administration, staff, parents and the community rowing together and in the same direction for it certainly takes a village to support each and every student entrusted to us. Thank you for allowing me to be your superintendent of schools.

Gratefully yours,

                            
Dr. Christopher Nagy
Superintendent of Schools
Burlington County Special Services School District
Burlington County Institute of Technology 

In addition to the report by our student representative Mehki Greene which Dr. Nagy read in the student’s absence, Dr. Nagy highlighted that it is that time of the year again when our Special Services School District will celebrate Read Across New Jersey with the theme: Down on the Farm. This will take place on the West campus on Thursday, March 21st from 9:45-12:00 noon. Board members should notify my assistant if you are interested in reading.  Dr. Nagy emphasized how he always looks forward to this opportunity each year.

Dr. Nagy also noted that in response to a personnel meeting before the last Board of Education meeting, he is asking for a motion from the Board of Education regarding the rejection of the appeal of a BCSSSD staff member pursuant to the presentation to the Board and affirmation of placement on the salary guide.