About Us: Garden State Coalition of Schools

What Does GSCS Believe?

• A permanent commitment to improving education without diminishing quality

• A broad perspective that reflects the concerns of educators, lay leadership and communities and parents

• Focused advocacy with expertise in school funding

• A primary focus on the inter-related issues of academic achievement, educational practices and school finance

• Continuing school programs that have led to high student achievement Who Belongs to GSCS?

• GSCS is a statewide organization, its members spanning New Jersey from Camden County to Bergen County

• Once considered primarily suburban, GSCS members have quintupled since 1992 and now include districts with a range of financial resources.

• Member districts represent approximately 400,000 public school children.

• Participants are a unique mix of parents, board of education members and superintendents who bring a broad perspective to GSCS initiatives.

How Is the Coalition Organized?

• A 24-district Board of Trustees meets monthly. The Parent Network Coordinator is a voting member of the Board.

• GSCS has only one full time staff person and is funded solely through member district dues.

• Member districts join through a Board of Education resolution.

What Makes GSCS Effective?

• GSCS is led by a highly motivated, volunteer membership and is grass roots in its decision-making.

• GSCS is tightly organized and able to gather and analyze information and make recommendations in a short time frame.

• GSCS is the only statewide educational organization that serves parents, school administrators Board of Education members.

• GSCS reaches out to work with education partners throughout NJ.

• GSCS maintains a presence in Trenton and is able to mobilize its statewide membership, bringing local educators, parents, and state legislators and policymakers together quickly.

• GSCS is a leading advocate for public support of public education for all children, not just those in one socio-economic group.

(New Member Inquiry letter/generic)- Garden State Coalition of Schools 204 West State Street, Trenton NJ 08608 609 394 2828; 732 681 5755 (cell); gscs2000@gmail.com www.gscschools.org

On behalf of the Garden State Coalition of Schools, it is my pleasure to welcome the interest of your school district in becoming a member of our statewide association. Please extend a warm hello to your Board of Education and its President as well. We hope to work with your Board of Education and community as GSCS brings the voice of suburban school districts to our lawmakers in Trenton and the people of New Jersey.

GSCS is a member-driven, grass-roots organization that is directed by its 24 Trustee Districts. This Executive Board helps the organization decide policy and direction. All member districts are encouraged to send representatives to the Executive Board meetings, for member input and feedback contribute greatly to helping GSCS present our common denominator concerns to Trenton.

The GSCS meetings calendar can be found at our website www.gscschools.org under the ‘Board Information link’ on the sidebar. GSCS meetings, whether the General Membership or the monthly Board of Trustees meetings, are a valuable source of information and interaction for GSCS leadership and members. Many look forward to the meetings as a chance to network and gather critical information concerning state actions and political news.

GSCS is the only education focused advocacy group in New Jersey that represents Board of Education members, superintendents, administrators, and parents and community members. As such, GSCS is seen in Trenton as grassroots and focused on community concerns.

Dues for the 2012-2013 are $1950. The dues are prorated to the month a district strikes its resolution to join GSCS. For further information, please see the GSCS "New Member Form" found on the GSCS website, under the 'Members' link.

I have included a summary of GSCS achievements over the past 20 years, which you may want to share with your Board of Education members. Please remind your community to visit our web site regularly (www.gscschools.org) for up-to-the-minute NJ education news.

Again, we appreciate your district’s willingness to consider being a member of GSCS. We welcome the opportunity to work with you.

If you have questions or need further information, please feel free to contact me at gscs2000@gmail.com or 732 / 618-5755 [cell].


(Lynne) Lynne Strickland, GSCS Executive Director _________________________________________________________

Did you know that GSCS membership represents a spread among district factor groups from DFG B to DFG J?...In fact, 40% of GSCS members are not considered high wealth districts. When GSCS advocates for its membership in Trenton, its Board of Trustees determines, and then pursues, the common denominator needs of its members. This is why GSCS has focused on such issues as increasing special education aid, lobbying the Statehouse to jump up its 'giveback' of aid by 20% more in last year's state budget, mandate reflief, seeking tenure, evaluation and charter school reform that is reasonable and doable. And these are just a few examples.

GSCS is recognized as a major information source of education and related issues, its website alone has already had more than 2M verified visits. GSCS Email-Net 'Trenton Updates' are sent to a large statewide mailing list approximately 26 times a year.

A few years back GSCS helped to turn around Governor Corzine's plan to have local districts absorb more than $30M in debt service...This is the kind of common denominator issue that is very important and yet not divisive among members. GSCS has had, and continues to have, success in getting its message of quality education for all NJ public school students across to Trenton.

Credibility and practicality, combined with ideas aknowledged by Trenton to be workable, have given GSCS its successful track record.

GSCS appreciates the input and feedback of our members that has contributed to GSCS accomplishments. Thank for your help and please keep it up. It is, and has been, well worth it.

________________________________________________ Garden State Coalition of Schools Celebrating Our 21st Year! Established June 1992

Membership FAQs Everything you need to know about becoming a GSCS Member!

What makes GSCS special?

As the only statewide educational advocacy organization that serves a unique combination of parents, school administrators, and Board of Education members, GSCS is viewed as a grassroots group supporting quality education for all NJ children.

• Our primary focus is on the inter-related issues of academic achievement, successful educational practices and school funding.

• Our approximately 100 member suburban districts span the state from Camden County to Bergen County and include a range of economic levels.

The Coalition has established a long list of successes in our 20-year history, and along the way has earned the respect of Trenton decision makers, as well as education leaders throughout the state.

• GSCS maintains an active presence in Trenton and is able to mobilize its statewide membership, bringing local educators, parents, state legislators and policymakers together quickly.

• The Coalition has been recognized frequently by legislators for bringing accurate, reliable, nonpartisan information to the discussion table.

• As a recognized voice for quality education, GSCS often is sought out by the media.

Why is membership in GSCS valuable for your school district?

GSCS’ steady, reliable Trenton presence—along with its vast nonpartisan network and reputation for integrity and reliability—provide early and behind-the scenes-information for its member districts.

• Members know their suburban message is being presented in the media and to decision makers when and where it matters.

• Lean in professional staff and high in volunteer commitment, GSCS is a highly motivated volunteer organization that relies on its member districts to set policy and have a voice in the Coalition’s program and policies.

• GSCS members benefit from the opportunity to network with other suburban districts at our Trustee Board meetings and statewide programs, which are open to all member districts.

• There is strength in numbers and effectiveness in a collective and focused voice. Having your district among our members will help the coalition stay strong and active.

How can my school district join GSCS?

• For more information about joining the Coalition, please contact Executive Director Lynne Strickland by email at gscs2000@gmail.com. Lynne will be happy to answer your questions or provide more information and to send you a membership form.

• The membership form allows you to supply your district’s contact information, including names, addresses/email addresses/phone & fax numbers. After completing the membership form, you will receive a dues invoice.

• For the fourth consecutive year, 2011-12 annual membership dues remain $1,850. Dues are based on a fiscal calendar and are payable annually on July 1.

• For new members dues are prorated on a monthly basis for districts joining later in the fiscal year and should be received by GSCS within the month after a district board of education strikes a resolution to join.

• A Board of Education resolution is required to join the Garden State Coalition of Schools. Please strike an applicable Board resolution that includes the date on which your district will join the Coalition. This resolution is needed only for the initial membership. It is not needed in subsequent years when membership is renewed. (For a sample resolution, please see below.)

How will my district receive information from GSCS?

• GSCS communications generally work through member districts’ Central Office of the Superintendent. In turn the Superintendent’s office is requested to disseminate GSCS information to the board of education and the local board-designated parent liaison to the GSCS Parent Network on a regular and timely basis. Board members and parents also may request to be added to the GSCS and Parent Network email lists directly by emailing gscs2000@gmail.com.

• Electronic newsletters several times a month (The Email-Net), as well as FYI emails directly from the executive director, keep members informed.

• The GSCS website (www.gscschools.org) also provides up-to-the minute and valuable information. Get in the habit of visiting it regularly to stay informed and connected to GSCS.

When are GSCS meetings held?

• GSCS Board of Trustees meetings are held monthly throughout the school year, generally on the fourth Wednesday of the month (See the GSCS website for meetings calendar).

• All GSCS member districts are welcome at the meetings and have voice, but only Trustee Districts may vote. District representatives usually include the superintendent of schools and any interested parents, board of education liaisons and school administrators wishing to attend. All districts are requested to RSVP their attendance before the meeting to gscs2000@gmail.com so that accommodations are adequate.

• Twenty-four districts are elected to the Trustee Board for rotating three-year terms, and it is their role to set policy and direction for the Coalition. Officers leading the board include a president, a president elect, a past president, two vice presidents and a treasurer.

• Traditionally, GSCS holds an Annual Meeting in late May, as well as annual statewide summits on topics of member interest and concern throughout the year.

Is there a standard board of education membership resolution for joining GSCS?

The resolution must state the Board’s decision to join and the date membership becomes effective. Some districts have found the following guideline to be helpful:

Sample Resolution: Joining the Garden State Coalition of Schools -Date-

WHEREAS, the Board of Education wishes to join the Garden State Coalition of Schools (GSCS), a member-directed grassroots advocacy organization successfully representing Boards of Education, parents, school administrators and community members in advocating for quality education for all New Jersey students for 20 years, and

WHEREAS, the Board of Education desires to be part of GSCS’ efforts to focus on the inter-related issues of academic achievement, educational practices and school finance, while continuing to strengthen New Jersey school programs that have led to high student achievement, and

WHEREAS, by joining GSCS, the Board of Education will be joining over 100 other New Jersey school districts with a combined enrollment of approximately 375,00 public school students, and

WHEREAS, membership in GSCS is initiated by a one-time resolution from each Board of Education wishing to join the coalition,

NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Board of Education does agree to join the Garden State Coalition of Schools, and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Board Secretary be authorized to initiate membership arrangements and pay the yearly dues, which may be prorated for the remainder of the year where applicable, based on the resolution date.

_________________________________________________________ GARDEN STATE COALITION OF SCHOOLS FOUNDERS’ MISSION STATEMENT 1992

The purpose of the Garden State Coalition of Schools (GSCS) is to promote educational practices, reasonable state regulations and state laws which further high quality education for all children. GSCS’ primary focus is on the interrelated issues of academic achievement education practices and school finance.

GSCS supports efforts towards more equitable education opportunities for all school children. Wise public policy includes a permanent commitment to both quality and equity. GSCS believes that equity should be achieved by improving education and not by diminishing quality and eliminative school programs that have led to high student achievement.