`Hello Class, Today I’ll be the Substitute’

Deductions for Sale

Conflict Is a Given, Deal With It

Need Time From IRS?

New Clerk Hours

Pothole Blitz

Lesson Plans From Business Owners

Corrections or additions?

These articles by Fran Ianacone, Bart Jackson, Jack Florek, were

prepared for the April 12, 2006 issue of U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights

reserved.

Survival Guide

Top Of Page
`Hello Class, Today I’ll be the Substitute’

Ever think about making extra money by working as a substitute

teacher, but aren’t sure you’ve got the moxie to lead and control a

classroom of 22 students?

For the serious or the curious, the school of continuing education at

Mercer County Community College offers an eight-week course, "Becoming

a Substitute Teacher," starting on Monday, April 17, at 7 p.m. Cost:

$180. Call 609-586-9446.

Julia Larkin, who has taught the substitute teaching course for four

years, also taught literacy in Ethiopia with the Peace Corps, as well

as in a public school in the Bronx. "I love teaching this course," she

says. "I think it’s a great class, and it seems like the people who

take it really enjoy it. I get wonderful people from many walks of

life who are really interested in teaching."

Some of her students are pursuing a degree in education, while others

are considering it. Some stay-at-home moms who enjoyed helping out in

their child’s classroom develop an interest in substituting, while

others are either changing careers or questioning their present job’s

security. Some are childcare professionals or nannies. Others are

retired seniors hankering for a new career. Few people are doing it

for the money – the pay scale for substitutes varies by district but

usually is in the $75 to $100 a day range.

Having earned a dual master’s degree in 2001 from Columbia University

in international educational development and in specialized curriculum

and teaching, Larkin shows the influence of both disciplines when she

points out that "in Ethiopia, it’s the same as it was here for most of

the 20th century – autocratic. But here we’ve changed culturally over

the past few decades. In my opinion, it is not necessarily the best

approach to teaching to rule with an iron fist."

Larkin and her three brothers grew up in Hamilton with their father,

Jack Larkin, a state employee, and their mother, Barbara, a first

grade teacher currently on leave in West Windsor. Larkin met her

husband, Seamus Dowling, in Ethiopia, where he was also stationed with

the Peace Corps. Together they taught in the Bronx for four years

before moving to Hamilton in 2002, where they live with their daughter

Jillian, and son, Shane. Dowling teaches sixth grade social studies at

the Thomas R. Grover middle school in West Windsor.

Perhaps the most valuable part of Larkin’s course is the mental

preparation for what the substitutes will encounter, and an awareness

of how things are done.

"Today we try to work with the students, instead of disciplining

them," says Larkin. "The days of `Do as I say and be quiet,’ that we

remember from our childhood are over. That is not the way it’s done

these days. We now know the benefit of allowing children to be at the

center of their own learning. As the saying goes: `they are not a

vessel to be filled, but a lamp to be lit.’ We encourage students to

question, make decisions, and explore. The responsibility of the

substitute is to facilitate, organize, keep to the routine, and be

vibrant and engaging."

The course introduces students to changes in the classroom, including

diversity, accommodations for special needs students, and the need to

manage by walking around.

"We require everyone to create and lead a 10-minute lesson in front of

the group," says Larkin. "If they come from a background of public

speaking or making presentations, they’re fine. But some of my

students don’t have that experience, and it’s daunting. People are

reluctant at first, but it increases their self-confidence."

The only prerequisite for taking the course is proof of 60 college

credits, the equivalent of two years of college. The state also

requires those 60 credits before awarding certification, so it’s best

to know that up-front.

While Mercer County requires very specific documentation before

certifying substitutes, once granted, the substitute is qualified in

each of the county’s school districts. To get that certification, the

county expects a completed application, a form permitting a criminal

history/background check, fingerprinting, an official college

transcript, and a $75 money order.

In addition some, but not all, schools require a physical exam,

provided at no cost by the district medical doctor.

Larkin says that the biggest challenge for substitutes is the class

management aspect, because management is more difficult than

discipline. "I get many requests to teach a course focused solely on

management techniques," she says. "It’s hard to walk into someone

else’s classroom where you don’t know the routine, don’t know names,

and don’t know who leaves for reading, but stays for math. You also

don’t know which students will assist you, and which will sabotage

you, although teachers usually leave a note relaying this information.

"I liken it to the Mommy Swap show," she continues. "It’s as if you

were dropped into someone else’s house and expected to keep everything

running smoothly. You don’t know the routines and patterns of the

classroom, and how everything goes. On top of that, today’s classroom

can be loud and messy, and some people equate loud with out of

control. It could mean that the students are energetic and excited

about what they’re learning. It doesn’t necessarily mean the classroom

is disorganized."

Here are some tips for the classroom newbie:

Get there early and set everything up. Carry the schedule on a

clipboard to keep from being tethered to the desk.

Review the lesson plan and teacher’s instructions. Most teachers leave

explicit instructions such as start and end times for lessons. They

specify page numbers, and provide piles of handouts and work books.

Stick to the routine. If math comes before science every day, there’s

a reason.

Praise positive behavior. Use a student’s good behavior as an example.

Work at "catching" someone doing well, and point out the behavior.

Keep things moving. "Teachers leave very specific lesson plans, and

since students will have had substitutes approximately 10 percent of

their school life, it’s important to keep the lessons moving."

Larkin shares actual lesson plans to prepare the students for the real

world. "I tell them no one walks in as a perfect substitute," she

says. "I use my own past mistakes as examples. If you make a mistake

it’s okay. Just do the best you can. I can only prepare them up to a

point, after that it’s the on-the-job experience that counts."

– Fran Ianacone

Tuesday, April 18

Top Of Page
Deductions for Sale

Small businesses and cash crunches go together like rising Fed rates

and higher cost loans. It’s always something. Customers take their

time paying. Commodity prices jump. Foreign shipments are delayed,

thereby pushing back production schedules. All too often there is a

real need for a quick cash infusion. Since 2001 an increasing number

of technology businesses have found that infusion coming, believe it

or not, from the state government.

New Jersey’s Economic Development Authority (NJEDA) now allows

qualifying high-tech and bio-tech companies to sell off the potential

tax deductions from their net operating losses (NOLs) to other

in-state corporations in need of those very deductions.

There are rules attached to this transfer and the New Jersey

Technology Council explains them in a workshop taking place on

Tuesday, April 18, at 9 a.m. at the Technology Center of New Jersey at

675 Route 1 in North Brunswick. Cost: $40. Visit www.njtc.org to

register. Panelists for the event, titled "Selling Your Net Operating

Losses," include Jay Shah, CFO of the East Windsor-based software

development company, CareGain (www.caregain.com); John Rosenfeld,

assistant director of program services for the NJEDA; Iris Chung, tax

manager, PricewaterhouseCoopers; and Will Steffens, area development

manager, PSE&G.

For over two decades, Shah has been worrying over and struggling to

manipulate the cash flow of various companies – both his own and

others. Born and raised in Bombay, India, Shah crossed the Pacific to

attend New York University, earning a bachelor’s in accounting in

l980. After earning his MBA from Columbia University, he took his

accounting and business skills to several publishing firms along the

East Coast. At one point he was CEO of Buckle Down Publishers in

Massachusetts.

For the past year Shah has served as CareGain’s CFO. As a developer of

custom software systems for the healthcare industry, CareGain

qualifies both as a "provider of emergency service" and as a

"new/expanding technology or biotechnology company," two of the

designations required for New Jersey’s Tax Benefit Transfer Program.

CareGain’s decision to mortgage their future tax savings for quick

cash now was, for Shah, the right and obvious choice. "We simply

needed the capital to meet our operating expenses this year," he says.

"The sale gave us what we needed with the least risk and allowed us to

expand."

Buying time. CareGain’s operating profile made the company an ideal

candidate for the program. Developing software involves intensive (and

expensive) manpower, but it may not yield a profit for a long time.

Even after the product is finally ready, it does not move quickly off

a retailer’s shelf, with quick cash returns. Instead, each software

package is individually installed by CareGain staff, which translates

into a slow, drawn out payback. So, even in its fifth year, the firm

faces long dry spells.

Lowering pay-back strain. As opposed to hunting for VC funding or

applying for a loan, Shah applied to the NJEDA, reasoning that the Tax

Benefit Transfer Program would provide a lower pay-back strain and

less intrusion from outside sources.

"You are getting money from a sale of your deductions, but it is not

at all free money," says Shah. After CareGain’s application was

approved by the NJEDA, Shah hired a specialized, independent

accounting firm to determine exactly what operating expenses could be

declared as tax losses. Technically, any time a business’ deductions

exceed its income, it can claim a net operating loss (NOL) and it can

carry that loss forward or back, applying it to years with a net gain.

In the Tax Benefit Transfer Program, however, only unused losses to be

carried forward may be sold. Under the same program, companies may

also sell their Research and Development Tax Credits, dating back to

January 1, l999. The seller pays a flat fee to the NOL auditor. Then,

if the seller can successfully hawk his tax deductible NOLs, the

purchasing company will pay the seller a preset rate of 75 cents for

each dollar of usable NOL.

Creating a win-win situation. While the party selling NOLs gets only

75 percent of their value, minus auditor fees, remember that these are

tax deductions traded in for real dollars – in hand, today. Shah was

thrilled with the deal.

Not surprisingly, the largest purchaser of tax benefits such as

CareGain’s, is PSE&G. Energy companies have harvested a bumper crop of

taxable profits this year, which they would like to shelter. PSE&G

qualifies as a state-residing S or C type corporation, and meets other

legislative strictures. As a result, it may purchase NOLs up to 50

percent of its actual tax liability. These are applied, dollar for

dollar, against the company’s own tax bill, at the same rate as would

have been used by the selling company.

Helping out New Jersey. It doesn’t much matter to the state’s tax

coffers whether a legitimate tax deduction gets subtracted from

CareGain’s tax liability or from PSE&G’s. Further, by ensuring that

companies like CareGain can continue and expand, the state has hopes

of gleaning even more tax income as the firm grows. More taxes, more

new technology, more emergency services provided in the state: it’s a

good deal.

Federal limits. Many of the high tech companies, particularly

dot-coms, which recently rose and suddenly crashed, have lying within

their rubble excellent, usable technology and top-notch talent. They

also have huge operating loss statements, which have set their more

healthy counterparts salivating with the urge for acquisition. But

beware. The potential for applying a newly-purchased firm’s NOL to

your own tax statement is extremely limited according to the federal

tax code. The federal tax code currently allows that, at best, a mere

5 percent of the newly acquired company’s NOLs can be used as

deductions.

In the end, Shah made the right move for CareGain. As of January,

2006, CareGain experienced every software developer’s dream outcome.

It was purchased by the Fiserv Inc., a complete medical administrative

service provider, which is based in Minneapolis. Meanwhile, CareGain

is planning to keep the plant located in East Windsor, with virtually

all its current staff. The proceeds from its NOL sale helped to keep

it afloat and healthy until the acquisition was complete.

– Bart Jackson

Wednesday, April 19

Top Of Page
Conflict Is a Given, Deal With It

To paraphrase a famous contemporary adage: conflict happens. But what

businesses and corporations do when it does happen can make all the

difference in the world. "People often come to my course with the

expectation that they can somehow eliminate conflict," says Leigh

Isleib, former human resource executive at Permacell. "But conflict is

going to happen, and when it does it’s important to develop the good

things that can emerge out of a conflict situation."

Isleib leads a five-session course on "How to Manage Conflicts Within

an Organization" at Mercer County Community College, starting on

Wednesday, April 19, at 6:30 p.m. Designed by the American Management

Association, it is part of a certificate program in project

management, and is also offered as a standalone course. Cost: $270.

Call 609-586-9446.

"There are usually people there who are currently working in clerical

or low management positions and are interested in strengthening their

skills for advancement," says Isleib.

According to Isleib, there are two main types of conflict that

regularly occur within organizations and businesses. The first, and

the one most easily rectified, is structural conflict. "You often will

have structural conflict when you have one department in an

organization that is treated differently than another," says Isleib.

"Employees tend to learn about this situation through casual cafeteria

conversation. One department might get away with more than another and

this can be a poison to a work environment."

The key to resolving this sort of conflict is to bring in the human

resources department as quickly as possible in order to provide a

baseline for the discussion. "The important thing is that everybody

needs to be on the same page and feel they are being treated in the

same way," says Isleib. "You try to come up with ways to resolve it

early so that it doesn’t fester into a situation that is untenable in

the business environment."

The other form of conflict is the interpersonal variety and, says

Isleib, this can be a bit trickier to settle. "Often this type of

conflict occurs when somebody walks into the room and you just don’t

like him," he says. "But really, I’ve seen this type of conflict take

on forms too numerous to count."

The key to settling interpersonal conflict is to allow human resources

to hold an honest discussion with the parties involved firmly based on

the reality of the situation. "Serve as a mediator by sitting down

with the folks, discuss what the problem is, and try to get everyone’s

opinion," says Isleib. The final answer usually boils down to the

simple fact that co-workers do not need to be buddies. "Building that

all important work relationship is imperative even though the

relationship may not go any further," he says, "and in fact you

probably don`t want it to go any further."

Often combatants, and those who try to counsel them, forget to get the

HR department involved early in the conflict situation. "So many folks

wait until the last step when they want to fire somebody," says

Isleib. "That is absolutely wrong. You have to build a case, a paper

trail. All those kinds of things are necessary today if you want to

terminate someone. Otherwise you will end up with a nice lawsuit on

your lap."

Born and raised in Westwood, Isleib is a graduate of Farleigh

Dickinson University. After earning his degree he served in the Navy,

attending officer candidate’s school in Newport, Rhode Island. "I was

onboard ship for four years as an executive officer," he says. "I

learned a lot about dealing with conflict there."

He then worked in manufacturing at Permacell for the next 20 years,

working his way up the ladder from supervisor to plant manager to

director of operations. Finally having enough of manufacturing, Isleib

moved to the human resources department. "One of my strengths has

always been getting along with people," he says. "So I ended my career

in human resources, where I did labor relations, negotiated contracts,

did arbitration, grievances, all that kind of stuff."

Retired for the past four years, Isleib is married and lives in East

Windsor. He and his wife have four grown children and three

grandchildren. While occasionally teaching, he continues to work as a

consultant for Permacell. "People ask me why I still bother to teach,"

he says. "It’s certainly not for the money. A few bucks are nice and I

call it my mad money, but I do it because I’ve always had the

philosophy of `get a mentor, be a mentor.’"

While managing conflicts is just one of a myriad of duties any

supervisor must address, it is something that can quickly get out of

hand. That’s why it is important for all managers to develop their own

style in advance of any crises that may emerge. "Work out what is best

for you and stick with it," he says. "One of the things I learned when

I was in officer candidate’s school was that you need to be

consistent, every day. If you are going to be a hardass, then be a

hardass every day. Same thing with being a nice guy. Your people need

to know what to expect."

Dealing with organizational clashes can be overwhelming to a manager

who is unprepared. Isleib offers these tips for those supervisors and

managers looking to head off a potential river of conflict.

Observe with fingers crossed. While it is often good to deal with

erupting conflicts early, it is important to first know what you are

getting into. Sometimes you get lucky. "Everybody seems to want to get

involved in conflict right away," he says. "But really, avoid it if

you can. Stand back, take a look at what is going on. If it is

something that you need to deal with, then go ahead. But avoiding it

is a good way sometimes."

Really listen. When wading through a conflict situation, be sure to

speak with all parties involved. Allow everyone to have his or her

say, and be sure to listen and respond where appropriate. Keep an open

mind. Going into a volatile discussion with your mind already made up

will usually only add to the problem.

Create a paper trail. It is always easier to bring a troubled employee

around than it is to go out and hire a new person, chiefly because you

never know what you’re going to get. But sometimes firing an employee

is the only solution. "In order to avoid lawsuits, document in advance

your employees’ transgressions, so that if push comes to shove, you’ve

done your homework," says Isleib.

Be a mentor. "When you are young and learning and you want to get up

the corporate ladder, get someone in front of you who has done it and

can help you through the effort," says Isleib. "On the other side of

the coin, once you have earned it, you can help the younger guy and

give him a chance. When I teach this course I like to inject a bit of

my philosophy. I only get one shot at these folks."

– Jack Florek

Top Of Page
Need Time From IRS?

Even though you have two extra days this year (with April 15 falling

on a Saturday), some procrastinators are sure to miss the April

filing deadline for federal tax returns. The good news is that you can

get an automatic six month extension of time to file from the IRS.

Here’s the IRS checklist of things to remember about filing

extensions:

* The extension will give you extra time to get your paperwork to

the IRS, but it does not extend the time you have to pay any tax due.

* You will owe interest on any amounts not paid by the April

deadline, plus a late payment penalty if you have paid less than 90

percent of your total tax by that date.

* File Form 4868, Application for Extension of Time to File U.S.

Individual Income Tax Return, with the IRS by the April deadline, or

make an extension-related electronic payment.

* You can E-file an extension request using tax preparation

software on your own computer or by going to a tax preparer who has

the software. The IRS will acknowledge receipt of the extension

request if you file by computer.

If you ask for an extension via computer, you can also choose to pay

any expected balance due by authorizing an electronic funds withdrawal

from a checking or savings account. You will need the appropriate bank

routing and account numbers and must also have available the adjusted

gross income from your 2004 federal income tax return to verify your

identity.

If your return is completed but you are unable to pay the tax due, do

not request an extension. File your return on time and pay as much as

you can. The IRS will send you a bill or notice for the balance due.

To obtain a copy of Form 4868 or other forms and publications, call

1-800-TAX-FORM (1-800-829-3676), or you can download them from

IRS.gov.

Top Of Page
New Clerk Hours

For Searches, Records

Beginning this month the office of the Mercer County Clerk, Paula

Sollami Covello, will extend its hours for title searches and records

research. The Records Room, normally open from 8:30 to 4 p.m., is now

open Wednesday nights.

Said Covello: "This change will benefit both residents and businesses

of Mercer County who may not be able to use the public record room

during normal business hours. My goal is to make government more

accessible and business-friendly."

The Records Room, now open on Wednesday nights until 6:45 p.m., houses

recorded deeds, mortgages, tax liens, other liens, and business trade

names. Most of this information is contained in books and on

microfilm, but information from 1997 forward is also searchable by

computer. The Clerk’s Office recently added six new public search

terminals and is presently working on computerizing its business trade

names.

The Clerk’s Office is located at 209 South Broad Street in Trenton in

the Old County Court house. For information call 609-989-6353.

Top Of Page
Pothole Blitz

New Jersey Transportation commissioner Kris Kolluri has announced that

NJDOT will continue its aggressive efforts to repair potholes across

the state. To report a pothole on a state highway, motorists can call

1-800-POTHOLE or log on to the DOT’s website

(www.state.nj.us/transportation/) and click "Report a Pothole."

"NJDOT began repairing potholes as soon as they appeared this year and

will fill over 21,000 per week as the number of potholes created by an

erratic winter mounts," said Kolluri.

NJDOT uses nine "pothole killer" machines to rapidly and

cost-efficiently eliminate potholes on state roadways. The pothole

killer machine can apply approximately six tons of patch material per

day. Each pothole killer contains all of the material needed to patch

a pothole. A single person operates each machine by using a joystick

control inside the vehicle’s cab. This reduces the number of staff

needed to patch potholes and increases employee safety by enabling

pothole killer operators to work from the safety of the vehicle.

NJDOT also employs 400 maintenance staff to manually patch potholes.

Over 100 DOT maintenance crews are available to repairs potholes

throughout the state.

Potholes are created by major fluctuations in temperatures that cause

moisture in roadways to freeze and thaw, breaking up the pavement.

Such temperature changes typically occur in the spring as days become

warmer, but temperatures have fluctuated during recent weeks.

NJDOT will primarily perform repairs on weekends and during evening

hours to minimize disruptions to traffic flow.

Top Of Page
Lesson Plans From Business Owners

For students, it’s natural to wonder when you might ever need to know

what an iambic pentameter is or the exact date of the Louisiana

Purchase. So businesses and teachers have teamed up to make some of

the lessons taught in public schools more meaningful.

Business leaders from across the state have joined together with

teachers and educational experts to develop a curriculum that adds a

dose of real world business to the reading, writing and arithmetic

lessons middle school students are taught now. The lesson plans,

called Teaching Tomorrow’s Entrepreneurs Today, were developed under

the auspices of the NJ PRO Foundation Inc., the research affiliate of

the New Jersey Business & Industry Association (NJBIA), and will be

showing up in classrooms this fall.

The curriculum addresses aspects of small business management and

entrepreneurship-business planning, finance, marketing, regulation,

and communication. The lessons are designed to combine material

required by the New Jersey Core Curriculum Content Standards, which

outlines what all students must be taught, with the business skills

students will need in real work settings. The project has been

endorsed by the NJ Department of Education, the New Jersey Education

Association, as well as numerous corporations, including AT&T and

PSE&G.

"This curriculum is not intended to replace the material middle school

students learn now, but to teach it in a way that has a more

meaningful context," said NJBIA president Philip Kirschner in a

prepared statement.

Lesson plans cover topics like branding and graphic design in

marketing; the history of entrepreneurship and its function in

society; what communication skills employers look for when hiring a

new employee; how to formulate a budget for a start-up business; the

process of creating a marketable invention and bringing it to market;

and what it takes to be a successful entrepreneur.

In the technology curriculum students are asked to develop and design

a new product. Working in small groups, the students will list

problems they could solve with inventions, develop a solution to one

of those problems, create patent drawings for their ideas, and develop

business plans for bringing their new product to market.

Each lesson plan takes approximately five class periods, assuming a

45-minute class schedule. The plans include plenty of hands-on

activities and allow for maximum flexibility for implementation in

middle schools throughout New Jersey.

Teachers will be able to access the lessons free of charge at

www.njprofoundation.org. Each lesson plan contains a lesson overview,

specific learning objectives, the resources and materials needed to

deliver the lesson effectively, a list of new business vocabulary

words, the Core Curriculum Content Standards addressed, student

activity sheets, and related career information. Teachers could also

use one of several New Jersey Business vignettes, which are examples

of real businesses and how education is important to them.

Corrections or additions?


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