Closter School Board Outlines Preparations for New School Year, Announces Bond Referendum for Infrastructure

In a recent meeting at Tenakill Middle School, the Closter Board of Education, presided over by Chair Melody Finkelstein, made significant strides in planning for the upcoming academic year. The meeting revealed a scheduled bond referendum aimed at funding substantial infrastructure improvements in Tenakill Middle School. Superintendent Vincent McHale also reported that the school will reopen on September 6, welcoming 23 new staff members, and addressed concerns about ratings.

McHale announced the hiring of 11 new staff members, seven long-term leave replacements, and five new paraprofessionals who are slated to undergo orientation this August. According to McHale, these hires come as part of the district’s preparation for the new academic year starting September 6.

McHale announced a bond referendum vote scheduled for September 26. The funds would be earmarked for significant improvements, including the replacement of boilers, roofs, and windows, as well as the addition of HVAC systems in Tenakill Middle School. With the decay of American public school infrastructure being a topic of national discussion, Closter’s proactive approach could set a precedent for other districts.

In response to concerns raised about the district’s ratings on, McHale pointed out that while some growth metrics had slipped, these numbers were not indicative of the overall quality of education in Closter.

The Curriculum Committee, headed by Dr. Lukshmi Puttanniah, also had its say. They found that the state’s curriculum documents did not require any changes and reviewed English Language Learner assessments, noting that 126 students were assessed last year in the ESL program. According to Puttanniah, most of these students fall into the ‘developing’ or ‘expanding’ categories, offering an optimistic outlook on the program’s effectiveness.

Several financial and operational motions were approved. Among them were agreements for the use of school facilities by local organizations and the setting of maximum costs for independent educational evaluations. On a somber note, the board announced the passing of Norma Ketler, who had served as Treasurer of School Monies for over a decade. Matthew Lynaugh was appointed as her interim replacement.

Various instructional resources were approved, including the purchase of educational programs like Powerschool and IXL. Special attention was given to individual needs; a settlement agreement was finalized related to a special education student, and nursing services contracts were established for two specific students at an estimated cost of $170,000.

The board also highlighted its focus on staff development. Attendance at the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) conference was approved, along with an annual mentoring plan to support new educators. Moreover, the board sanctioned field trips and professional development programs for teachers.

In an interesting regulatory development, the board discussed a new law signed by Governor Murphy, requiring them to certify election results within two days after the Board of County Canvassers meets. This poses logistical challenges, as it would require a board meeting just a day before Thanksgiving.

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