Closter School Board Discusses School Readiness and Approves Bond Referendum Details

In a recent Closter School Board meeting held at Tenakill Middle School, principal reports on preparations for the new school year were presented, followed by a detailed discussion on various upcoming initiatives and events. The session, led by the board president, Melody Finkelstein, with Superintendent Vincent McHale and board member Mr. Villanueva in attendance, culminated in unanimous approvals on various motions central to the district’s functioning for the 2023-2024 academic year.

Principals from Hillside Elementary and Tenakill Middle School detailed their efforts towards fostering a nurturing school environment through the initiation of programs like Positive Affirming Words (PAW) and welcomed the community to participate in upcoming events such as Back to School Nights and the Kindergarten Kickstart event. The anticipation for a successful school year was echoed by Mr. McHale, who commended the efforts of the maintenance and custodial staff in preparing the school for reopening and welcomed new hires to the district.

A focal point of the meeting was the forthcoming Board of Education bond referendum vote scheduled for September 26, a measure aimed to facilitate various infrastructure improvements in schools. The proposal encompasses boiler and roof replacements, window replacements at Tenakill Middle School, and adding HVAC in the school’s gymnasium. The board encouraged the attendees to refer to the district’s webpage for detailed information regarding the referendum, which has received supportive feedback from the senior community.

Financial matters took precedence with unanimous approvals on the reallocation of 2023-2024 school year’s funds. Significant discussions unfolded around a budget increase for professional and technical services and the endorsement of Vincent McHale as an authorized signatory for various district bank accounts. The necessity of multiple account signatories was confirmed by Mr. Villanueva as a standard banking requirement, followed by the approval of financial reports and payments amounting to over $416,000.

Ms. Kwon, chairperson of the Finance and Physical Plant Committee, led the presentation of several motions regarding budget allocations, including discussions on the American Rescue Plan Grant amendments which proposed redistributions to cater to the increased expenditure in professional and technical services. Following an array of approvals on matters such as special education placements, Ms. Fanelli sought clarifications on specific agenda items, with detailed responses given by Mr. McHale and Mr. Tantum, ensuring transparency in the meeting proceedings.

Personnel and management segments chaired by Magaly Salamea-Cross saw the agreement on staffing details, including new appointments and the regretful acceptance of a resignation. The policy committee, led by Mary Elizabeth Brandon Fanelli, gave the green light to first readings of policies surrounding sick leave and school threat assessment teams, with team compositions clarified.

Closing the session, the attendees were updated on procedural details concerning the upcoming bond referendum vote by Mr. Villanueva.

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