UPDATED: Unanswered Questions: What's Going On At The Intermediate School?

Silence from the lame-duck Schools Chief Again Tuesday


The schedule for the upcoming Intermediate School year is still in flux while the district looks at shuffling times to accommodate expanded math and language instruction, officials said Wednesday.

School Board President John Tavis said the board would be discussing changes to the Intermediate Schools schedule when its sub-committee meetings take place at the end of the week and next Tuesday.

Interim School Board President Stephanie Bilenker has been voiceless in recent weeks on the issue, the most controversial of her short tenure. Bilenker has not returned numerous phone calls spread over two weeks requesting comment, the most recent at 10:05 a.m. Wednesday. She is paid $600 a day. Her last day is Friday.

Tavis said the district is still looking at expanding its math and language instruction time for the upcoming year, but also was trying to lessen or eliminate the effect on music students.

“If you look at Blue Ribbon schools, that’s what they’re doing is expanding math and language,’’ Tavis said. “We’re still working on it. It’s still up in the air.’’

Tavis was not specific on what plans the district was looking at, but did say that one possibility among many was keeping all music instruction in the regular school day.

Tavis also said the parent survey that was posted, retracted, changed, posted and then re-posted on the district's website recently was inconclusive and likely would not weigh heavily on further discussions about the Intermediate School schedule.

WEDNESDAY 10:05 a.m.: Bilenker was unavailable again. Another message was left with office staff.

Three public meetings and a pair of possibly flawed parent surveys but no word yet from the Wall Township School District administration on exactly what the next school year might look like at the Intermediate School.

Interim Superintendent Stephanie Bilenker -- in this, her last week with the district -- will take home $3,000 at a rate of $600 a day , did not respond Tuesday to repeated calls from Wall Patch in regard to the Intermediate School.

Bilenker was unavailable at shortly after 1 p.m., according to office staff. A second message was left with office staff at 3:02 p.m. A third message was left on Belinker's voicemail at 5:07 p.m.

Numerous messages left last week were simliarly unreturned.

The recent of a then-unannounced plan to shuffle , touched off a firestorm among parents of music students which quickly spread among the Intermediate School community.

The district to for the need for the change, which officials have said is an effort to and remove the school from a state watch list of schools lagging in standarized tests.

The district also surveyed parents on its website in an , intended to collect opinion on the proposal. The district, following its two parent meetings, then re-posted the survey. But serious questions were raised regarding its validity.


But no one from the district, nor the Board of Education, has publicly said what, if anything, is being done with all the community input since the June 12 board meeting, the audio of which by Tuesday was unavailable on the district’s website.

What do you think should happen with the Intermediate School schedule for the upcoming year? Discuss in the comments.

Tom Coyle June 28, 2012 at 01:49 AM
Mr. Ferrell: The extended school day, as well as the extended school year, is an inevitable adjustment across the nation in the near future. I believe this Board is attempting to expand the curriculum without expanding the school day, which would require an increase in expenditures. This Board is infinitely more open and engaged than any other Board in recent memory. One has to have an awfully short memory to refer the this Board as anything but transparent. Especially in contrast to the backroom dealings of Habel/Brower and their yes-(wo)men on the old Board. With two new Board members coming in, further purging the Board of their old guard, the opportunity grows to keep the ball moving in the right direction.
Tom Coyle June 28, 2012 at 01:59 AM
Mr. Brown: Back when Doc Habel was the big cheese, I remember a simple, "Dr. Habel could not be reached for comment." (For just about every story you ever wrote.) I wonder why Stephanie Bilenker gets the multi-paragraph, minute-by-minute breakdown of how many times you called, the times you left messages, and how long each message lasted. I also don't recall a breakdown of exactly how much Doc Habel was getting paid per day, per week, per questionable contract, each time you couldn't get him on the horn. Were you somewhat intimidated by Doc Habel, or is it more that you feel emboldened to take shots at an interim-position employee who will be out the door in a few days?
Keith Brown June 28, 2012 at 03:31 AM
Mr. Coyle: I thank you for being so attentive to what and how I write. I am a reporter. I take my vocation very seriously, as should anyone in this business. We are the watchdogs, the check on authority, the fourth leg of democracy. Zeal in pursuit of truth is not checked by those with whom we have affinity. It makes no difference to me who sits in that position. What does is that whoever sits at the top of a public pay scale is responsive. Neither has shown that they are. Bilenker, however, was chosen in a time when the community had resolutely said that responsiveness, above nearly everything else, was paramount in a superintendent, interim or permanent. I'm fairly certain you were among that group, so it's curious why you'd take offense to my pursuit of openness at the school district. It is, after all, in everyone's best interest that an open and honest discussion flows from the top down. You may want to continue this discussion. You may have the last word here in the comment section, but I would urge you, as I would everyone else, to contact me by office telephone at (732) 292-4484, or my cell: (732) 556-8562 if you would like to have a more productive conversation.
Tom Coyle June 28, 2012 at 12:48 PM
Written with wonderful eloquence, Mr. Brown. Just keep in mind that the "fourth leg of democracy" frequently runs the risk of becoming a bully pulpit if it goes unchecked by the FIRST leg of democracy: the people. We may never know why you have suddenly found your footing as the watchdog of the public pay scale now that Dr. Habel fiddles away down in Florida. But it does bear scrutinizing your tone. It will be equally interesting to see how detailed you are regarding your interactions with the incoming Superintendent. I am certain you will adopt a new consistency in your actions.
JD June 29, 2012 at 10:13 PM
Seems to me the new super weighed in behind closed doors... He starts monday... that is why things were dragging out... just a thought.


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