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You can check our Calendar for all events this weekend, but here are this weekend’s highlights:
Kids ages 6 – 12 can join Mr. Mike for “Friday Night Science Night” at the Geyer Family YMCA in Montclair. This month’s theme is “Tye Dye!” (Friday, March 7)
On Sunday, March 9 we “spring ahead” our clocks one hour for Daylight Saving Time. While it brings welcome extra daylight in the afternoons and early evening, it can wreak havoc on sleep, especially in children.
If you’re worried about losing even more sleep than the one hour, we have some tips that may help make it a smooth transition.
Montclair Art Museum (MAM) announced that students from across New Jersey have received prestigious awards for their artwork through the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards, the 91-year-old national program that recognizes outstanding creative teenagers and offers scholarship opportunities for graduating high school seniors. The program is administered by the Alliance for Young Artists & Writers, for which the Montclair Art Museum is the sole affiliate sponsor in New Jersey, the sixth year MAM has served in this capacity. The competition at MAM focuses on visual art.
MAM is one of 115 affiliate organizations nationwide that, in partnership with the Alliance, conduct the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards. At MAM, more than 30 jurors, made up of artists, curators, and educators, participated in a series of panels, reviewing 4,500 submissions.
Purim, one of the most festive of the Jewish holidays, begins Saturday night March 15, and continues through sundown on Sunday, March 16.
For those not familiar with Purim, it is a holiday that commemorates the story of the heroic Esther, who was was able though her courage and devotion to Judaism to bring down Haman and his evil plans to destroy the Jewish people.
Over the years, the editors and writers of Barista Kids have taken, or refused this challenge, as well as Screen-Free Week. As the owner of a gift shop called Sunshine Sam that specializes in toys that are battery and technology free, I’ve been getting asked if I will unplug this week.
My answer? A resounding, NO!
It’s been a brutal winter. I have a seven year-old, and I am really behind on work. Unplugging for 24 hours straight would give me a panic attack, personally.
But, I will unplug for part of the time, and I do think unplugging for some portion of everyday in order to provide our full, undivided attention to our children and our selves is extremely important.
Montclair Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Penny MacCormack, sends out a monthly newsletter titled Straight from the Superintendent. In this edition she discusses the proposed Montclair Schools budget for the 2014-15 school year, includes a summary of Chief Human Resources Officer Felice A. Harrison’s presentation on the District’s Enrollment Report and the Annual Violence and Vandalism Report, and a summary of Watchung School teachers’ presentation:
Highlights of the March 3rd Budget Workshop
Chief Operating Officer Brian Fleischer Expands on the Preliminary Budget for 2014-2015
Brian updated the Board on the district’s finances and answered questions on the preliminary budget for 2014-15.
The key challenge in formulating the budget was that the surplus which had accumulated in prior years had been spent down, in accordance with NJ law and the guidance of our auditors. As a result, we began this budget season with an $8 million shortfall in funding for next year’s ongoing expenses. Our plan was to take a balanced approach in budgeting that would fund ongoing expenses including salaried positions added in 2012-13 school year and the negotiated and much deserved salary increases for our MEA staff.
We plan to address this deficit in several ways, with the ultimate goals of maintaining the current level of school programs and staffing our children deserve, and supporting our continued implementation of the Strategic Plan.
Our first step in this process was to add $1.5 million of available reserves (fund balance) which narrowed the gap to $6.5 million.
Through a line by line review, we next identified $2.7 million in cost savings, including:
Hands down the best gift I received when my second daughter was born was a sleep machine from Brookstone. It was given to me by a mom of four who knew from experience that white noise would drown out a noisy toddler and help a newborn sleep. My first daughter was the world’s worst sleeper, so I was desperate for any sleep aids. My new baby turned out to be a champion sleeper, partly perhaps because she just was wired that way, but I can’t help but believe that the sleep machine helped.
She is 6 years old now and still sleeps with the sleep machine on. Actually, she can’t sleep without it. So yes, it becomes habit forming, but to me, it was a small price to pay for getting your child to sleep better.
But a “not so small price to pay” is the hearing damage that a baby can suffer if you blast the white noise and put the machine too close to your baby’s crib.
A new study, published online Monday by the journal Pediatrics, says parents should be cautious with sleep machines because they can generate sound levels that could place infants at risk of developing noise-induced hearing loss.
I recently attended the American International Toy Fair, a massive event at the Javits Center in New York City featuring more than 1,000 companies showcasing the latest in games, toys, crafts, stuffed animals and dolls.
This is my third year going to the Toy Fair, and in addition to seeking out what I think are the best new products for kids, I also visit the Toy Fair to find out what the latest trends are in the industry, usually both for better and worse.
Update by Editor: Some clarification on items are found at the end of this article.
Picking up where he left off at the Board of Education’s February 24 meeting, the board’s Chief Operating Officer, Brian Fleischer, presented a proposed Montclair Schools budget for the 2014-15 school year. He zeroed in on the fund balance, which he had cited as a source of increased funding for teachers’ salaries and other recurring expenses in previous years. He advocated more spending on computers and a greater spending on capital projects to keep school facilities in good shape.
Fleischer noted that the fund balance, after reaching $13.9 million in 2012, is expected to be spent down to $9.3 million, with $2.2 million in excess calculated by an audit at the end of June 2013 to be added into the 2014-15 as required by the state. The estimated excess at the end of this June is expected to be $265,015, further illuminating the pressure from recurring expenses.
Fleischer cited the importance of leaving enough room by maintaining the 2 percent fund balance in the budget for unforeseen expenditures, based on conservative estimates.