Commissioner of Education David Hespe today announced his appointment of a 15-member team that will recommend the elements of a transition plan to return the Jersey City Public Schools to local control. The team will explore issues that should be addressed before the state-operated district can be administered exclusively by its own local school board and central office. It will advise the Commissioner in the form of a report to be issued by November 1, 2000.
"Last week, the State Board of Education approved my proposal to assemble a team of school and community representatives including parents and students to recommend the strategies and activities that should take place before we fully return the district to local control," Commissioner Hespe said.
"In the nearly 12 years since Jersey City became the first state-operated school district in the nation, school officials, parents and students have worked very hard to overcome a decades-long cycle of failure," the Commissioner continued. "As a result of the districts impressive rate of improvement, now is the appropriate time to plan for a smooth and effective shift in leadership from the state to the local level.
"Although the district is not yet eligible under the law to be fully certified by the state, it has taken giant steps back from the brink of failure. I look forward to the transition teams report so that we can plan the next phase of the districts full recovery," Hespe said.
Chairing the transition team is Gregg Butterfield, immediate past president of the Jersey City Board of Education. A construction company executive, Butterfield is a long-time city resident with children in the school system.
The entire transition team consists of 15 voting members and four ex-officio members for a total of nineteen. Team members include seven women and nine members of ethnic minorities (five African-Americans and four Hispanics). Twelve members live in Jersey City with half having children in the public schools -- and the rest either have a long history of working in the city or are state government officials. Two are currently elected members of the citys school board, and one is a former member and chair.
In addition to Butterfield as Chairman, the other 14 voting members of the board are:
The four non-voting members of the transition team are:
In addition, Commissioner Hespe announced the selection of Dr. Carlos Hernández, president of New Jersey City University, as the Higher Education Resource Person to the Jersey City Board of Education. Dr. Hernández, a long-time university professor, is also a former member of the State Board of Education.
At a later date, Commissioner Hespe will be announcing the selection of his Personal Liaison to work closely with the Jersey City Board during the transition process.