Remote Learning – And Remote Board Meetings – For Brick Schools

Superintendent Thomas Farrell addresses the public remotely during his first meeting of the board as superintendent. (Screenshot – Judy Smestad-Nunn)

  BRICK – The Township’s Board of Education has gone “virtual.”

  The Board’s March 19 meeting had all members attending by live-streaming from their home or office due to the ongoing public health crisis resulting from the COVID-19 virus.

  “Well, this is a fine way to start my first meeting as your superintendent,” said Dr. Thomas Farrell. “I envisioned having my first meeting standing-room-only, and having a presentation, but I guess that won’t be the case.”

  Farrell noted that on his first day as superintendent which was Monday March 2, he attended a ribbon-cutting ceremony for a new wellness center which should result in a “huge cost savings,” he said.

  Located at 250 Chambers Bridge Road near Warren H. Wolf Elementary School, the wellness center will provide primary health care seven days a week for school employees who are enrolled in the school’s health plan.

  “It’s really a beautiful facility. Many other administrators…came to visit and I hope that we will realize some of those savings sooner rather than later with the wellness center,” the superintendent said.

  Also, on his first day, Farrell said the district got the grant approval for the new pre-K center to be located at the former Herbertsville Elementary School.

Superintendent Thomas Farrell joins Board President Stephanie Wohlrab, and Board member Jessica Clayton speak remotely during the Board of Education meeting. (Screenshot – Judy Smestad-Nunn)

  Dr. Farrell noted that in Brick there is a pre-K population of three- and four-year-olds of about 1,100. “I believe we’re going to be able to educate almost 400 of them,” he said.

  On March 10, Farrell said he and Board of Education President Stephanie Wohlrab attended the NJ State Senate Budget Hearing in Newark. Also attending was School Business Administrator James Edwards and Board of Education member Jessica Clayton.

  “I was able to voice our testimony from the district and I think the Senate Budget Committee was very receptive to our plea,” he said. The testimony would be posted online, he said.

  The state-mandated school closures due to the COVID-19 outbreak started Wednesday March 18, but Brick Township schools took a precautionary measure, closing Monday March 16.

  “We implemented our Remote Learning Plan that we put in place about a week earlier, and this past week we put it in place,” he said. “Parents, students and the community, please bear with us as we work through some of the SNAFUS with the plan, but it’s been pretty successful, and I can’t thank our staff enough for all the hard work they put in over the weekend in implementing that plan.”

  For any questions about the Remote Learning Plan visit, or contact your child’s teacher or building principal by email, he added.

  Farrell said he would be providing weekly updates via video messaging for information and updates.

  “This is uncharted territory, and we’re building the plane as we’re flying it, so to speak,” he said. He asked for everyone’s support and flexibility. 

  The March 19 Board of Education agenda also included a general budget summary and overview for a tentative budget approval for school year 2020-2021.

Board President Stephanie Wohlrab joins Superintendent Thomas Farrell speak remotely during the Board of Education meeting. (Screenshot – Judy Smestad-Nunn)

  The $157,880,984 budget would be supported by $115,155,355 to be raised by taxes.

  Due to salary and benefit increases, debt service reduction, and a $4.2 million decrease in state aid, “we have a significant shortfall that we still have to overcome,” Farrell said.

  Adoption of the budget was scheduled for the April 30 Board of Education meeting preceded by a detailed presentation by Business Administrator Edwards and Superintendent Farrell.

  The next regularly-scheduled Board of Education meeting will be April 9.