Members of the Pascack Regional Dance Team, which boasts over 22 national championship titles, appeared before the Pascack Valley School Board to appeal for financial assistance to purchase new uniforms. The appeal came amid discussions of remarkable advancements in standardized test scores and academic achievement metrics, with the district outperforming state averages in multiple categories.
Abby Fox, a senior on the dance team, articulated the importance of uniforms by stating, “Uniforms may seem like simple attire, but they hold the power to transform our performances. When we step onto the stage, our uniforms become an extension of ourselves.” According to Fox, the cost of new uniforms has become a significant financial burden for the team and their families, one they hope the board will alleviate. “For three decades, our dance team has been a symbol of dedication, winning over 22 national championship titles along the way,” she said. “However, the financial burden of buying new uniforms places a strain on both our members and their families.”
The board appeared receptive to the appeal. One board member noted, “You guys are an award-winning dance team, and you’re a vital part of our district. So we definitely value you a lot.” Discussions about the board’s potential support for the dance team came at an opportune time when they were already examining budgetary allocations for sports and other extracurricular activities.
The board meeting also delved into the district’s academic achievements. Dr. Bakenheimer presented data that showed students in the district outperforming state and national averages on standardized tests. SAT scores for the schools were strong, with 96% of district students deemed “Graduation ready” in English Language Arts, far above the state average of 81%. In Math, 83% of students were also considered “Graduation ready,” a significant leap from the state’s 55%.
Another highlight of the meeting was the discussion of Advanced Placement (AP) program performances. While there was a slight decline in participation, scores were markedly higher than in previous years. Dr. Bakenheimer informed that 87% and 90% of students in the two schools under the board’s jurisdiction scored 3 or higher on their AP exams.
Issues related to equity in academic performance were also addressed, particularly for various ethnic groups and those in special education. Dr. Russo emphasized that both schools in the district were nearing performance parity in the New Jersey GPA exam, known as NJGPA. “We’re moving in the right direction,” he said, particularly praising teachers and students for their hard work over the last year.
Further plans for academic improvement were laid out, including the introduction of new initiatives like LinkIt benchmarks. These are aimed at better data collection for tailored instruction, with Ms. Graziano stating that the school plans to focus on specific areas for improvement. The board also heard about ongoing interventions funded by the ESEA and ESSER grants, aimed at supporting summer classes and mental health wellness programs.