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Brad Garton of Roosevelt uses his computer and a sound board to play a digital music piece he composed. Garton, the director of the Columbia University Computer Music Center, New York, brought researchers and composers from the center to Roosevelt on Saturday for a presentation hosted by the Roosevelt Arts Project.

Aspiring journalists share

experiences at symposium

By Bob Fleming

ALLENTOWN — High school students can prepare for a career in journalism by investing their time and talents writing for their school newspapers and developing their reporting skills — that was the message delivered by a panel of guest speakers at a journalism symposium held recently at Allentown High School.

The Colonial Valley Conference School Newspaper Symposium, hosted by Allentown High School on Feb. 9, was a first attempt to promote stronger relationships between students and faculty members involved in their high schools’ non-athletic extracurricular activities, said Christopher Nagy, principal of Allentown High School.

"We are hoping to present information on a variety of subjects concerning school newspapers and to provide a forum in which student newspaper advisers can speak their minds, learn some techniques and network," Nagy said at the opening of the symposium.

The three-hour symposium was moderated by Michael Dean, a mathematics teacher and school newspaper adviser at the high school.

Approximately 60 students, faculty members and newspaper advisers from a dozen school districts throughout New Jersey attended the symposium and shared their experiences as they related to secondary school journalism and newspaper pursuits.

Andrew Sharp, editorial page editor for the Asbury Park Press, was the first speaker to address the symposium attendees on the topic of "Career Perspectives: High School to World of Work."

"When starting up a school newspaper, you need to develop a mission statement and decide exactly what you want to do with the paper," Sharp said. "The newspaper should offer training to staff members and should offer readers the types of stories and features they want to read."

According to Sharp, high school newspaper writing and journalism courses are an important precursor to college newspaper introduction. Most colleges have daily or five-days-a-week newspapers on campus.

The difference between high school and college newspapers is that the school board or school administrators are normally responsible for, and are considered the publishers of, a high school newspaper, while an independent board of directors, separate from the school administration, usually oversees the publication of a college newspaper.

"My best advice for a high school reporter is to freely engage the subject in conversation and just relax," Sharp said. "Take good notes or tape the conversation with the permission of the interviewee. Follow up on research articles by using the Internet as a source of information."

Martin Endres, an intellectual rights attorney in New York City, addressed the attendees on school newspapers and Internet legal issues.

"School newspapers and the Internet may be different mediums, but they share the same legal concerns," Endres said. "Both are faced with basic legal issues, including First Amendment rights, freedom of speech and freedom of the press."

According to Endres, newspaper reporters and Internet users must be wary of libel issues, which can be written words, photographs or electronic files that cause damage or injury to a person’s reputation in the community.

"The best defense to a libel charge is to report the absolute truth," Endres said. "Always remember that everyone has a right to privacy."

Endres outlined specific actions to avoid in the pursuit of news stories, which included using an individual’s name or image without permission, harassing an individual with constant phone calls or stalking them, publishing private facts such as medical reports, and portraying a subject in a false light.

"To avoid problems with copyright infringement, don’t download pictures from the Internet and use them in your publications," Endres said. "Instead, take your own pictures. If you use trademarks, make sure to include a disclaimer statement that says you’re using a registered trademark in your story or feature."

The next speaker, Benjamin J. Kowalczyk, the chief financial officer for Health Network America, addressed the subject of financial operations for daily and weekly newspapers.

"The finance department of a newspaper is a partner with the publisher," Ko-walczyk said. "The newspaper is dependent upon advertising to generate a significant source of revenue to publish it. Newspaper costs are controlled by department budgets which are overseen by the finance department."

According to Kowalczyk, the finance department of a newspaper "sees the full picture of publishing a newspaper."

Jeremy DeAngelo, editor-in-chief of The Nutshell, Allentown High School’s newspaper, shared his perspective on writing for and managing a school newspaper.

"We try to publish a minimum of five issues annually," said DeAngelo, a junior. "Most of our writers want to do editorials and must be reminded of deadlines. That’s the biggest problem I face as an editor."

DeAngelo said some writers need to be reminded there is a distinction between fact and opinion.

"Our stories must be factual," he said. "Editorials are the proper place to express an opinion. They (opinions) don’t belong in a news story."

Dean, acting as the school’s newspaper adviser, said he remains in the background of operations for The Nutshell.

"It’s the kids’ newspaper all the way until the end," he said. "I don’t do anything until the final edit, which is basically a grammar and spell check for the final copy."

Richard Just, editor-in-chief of The Daily Princetonian, the Princeton University daily newspaper, advised the audience of aspiring journalists what qualities a college newspaper editor looks for in a potential college newspaper writer.

"We’re looking for basic writing skills and creative writing, not just matter-of-fact reporting," Just said. "Developing interesting leads and descriptive headline writing attracts the editor’s attention and improves your chances of being a part of the newspaper team."

According to Just, high school reporters should be encouraged to pursue investigative journalism, which will serve them well when they join a college newspaper group that often requires that type of reporting.

At the conclusion of the symposium, attendees from various schools shared their newspapers and exchanged ideas on how to improve their publications and attract greater readership in their school communities.

"Today we had a valuable exchange of ideas and information," Nagy said at the conclusion of the symposium. "This is just a beginning in the process of promoting strong relationships between our staff members, guiding students in their pursuit of careers in journalism."

Taxpayers face 14ยข


By louis c. hochman


he 2000-01 Millstone Township school district budget will carry with it a 14-cent tax increase if it is approved by voters next month, and administrators say most of the costs contributing to the increase are out of their control.

If the budget is rejected by voters on April 18, the Township Committee will review it and may recommend and/or negotiate reductions in the spending package. Typically, those reductions amount to an increase 1 or 2 cents lower than the tax rate proposed by the Board of Education.

The proposed budget for the 2000-01 school year totals $16.38 million, up more than $1.5 million from 1999-2000. Almost 87 percent of the budget comes from fixed costs that include salaries, benefits, tuition and energy, according to figures provided by the Board of Education.

"The majority of the increase to the tax base basically comes from fixed charges, from things we really can’t do anything about," Superintendent of Schools Dr. William J. Setaro said. "These are items where the costs go up every year, and we don’t have any control over them. About 12 percent of the budget is really under our direct control."

Setaro said health insurance has become more expensive over the last year, contributing to the increase. He said the school district will send 65 more students to Allentown High School next year, at about $10,000 in tuition each, and has had to purchase five new buses. He also said the district has hired new staff to keep the average class size in the low 20s and prevent it from reaching the 30s.

"These are the big numbers for this budget, and there isn’t a lot of flexibility in cost," he said.

Among the discretionary costs, comprising 11.9 percent of the budget, are purchased and professional technical services, purchased property services, supplies, textbooks, other purchased services and miscellaneous expenses.

Setaro said to save some money, the school district will buy fewer computers in 2000-01 than in 1999-2000.

Millstone Business Administrator Brian Boyle said the projected 13.81-cent tax increase, which brings the school tax rate to $1.7596 per $100 of assessed value, isn’t largely attributable to increased spending. He said the school district received less state aid than it is entitled to this year.

To the owner of a home assessed at $200,000, a 13.81-cent increase in the school tax rate translates into an increase of $276. With a tax rate of $1.7596 in place, the owner of that $200,000 home will pay about $3,519 in school taxes in the 2000-01 school year.

To the owner of a home assessed at $300,000, a 13.81-cent increase in the school tax rate translates into an increase of $415. With a tax rate of $1.7596, that homeowner will pay about $5,279 in school taxes in the 2000-01 school year.

To the owner of a home assessed at $500,000, a 13.81-cent increase in the school tax rate translates into an increase of $690. With a tax rate of $1.7596, that homeowner will pay about $8,798 in school taxes in the 2000-01 school year.

Boyle said while Millstone’s state aid increased this year by about 6 percent, it was entitled to more under the formula usually used to derive aid. He said because Millstone is a stabilized district, it lost aid money to other schools.

Under the standard formula entitlement, Millstone would receive $5,153,523, according the Board of Education’s analysis. After adjustments for stabilization aid, it received $4,380,336, a loss of $773,187.

The stabilization aid formula, adopted by the state this year, is designed to prevent drastic drops in state aid to school districts. In order to fund districts that are in danger of losing aid, the state takes money from districts that would otherwise see dramatic increases, Boyle said.

"They don’t want your aid to be increased more than 10 percent," he said. "They don’t want your aid to jump up and down uncontrollably, to have these super-steep increases or super-steep decreases."

Last year, Millstone schools received a 14 percent increase in aid, Boyle said.

Boyle said while the school district could estimate the aid it would receive using a standard formula, it did not know the impact of the adjustment for stabilization aid until receiving notice in early January.

"We don’t know if we’re going to get hit until we get hit," he said. "In January, they sent us a series of printouts that showed us what we were going to get and where we lost money, and how the numbers were derived."

Setaro said the Millstone school district is fighting the legislation that allows for stabilization aid.

"We want our legislators to know our concerns," he said.

The 14-cent increase taxpayers are facing is significantly larger than in recent years. Last year, the school tax stayed level, and increased about 2 cents over the two years prior.

"In the last four years we’ve had relatively small advances," Setaro said. "If you look at the growth this town has experienced, it’s been pretty fortunate to receive so little an increase over the last four years. And last year, to have a budget stay flat with no increase is pretty amazing."

In a presentation before the Township Committee last week, Setaro said while he expects some residents to be upset at the sizable increase, the budget is as slim as it could reasonably be. He said it underwent thorough evaluation, both by himself and by the board.

"I can assure you that the board looks at it even tougher than I look at it," Setaro told the committee on March 1.