The recent East Rutherford School Board meeting highlighted a newly introduced School Threat Assessment Team in New Jersey, aimed at ensuring the safety and security of students and staff. The urgency and suddenness of the mandate left board members grappling with its proper implementation, even as they dealt with other pressing operational, infrastructural, and community-related issues.
Board members expressed their apprehension about the rapid introduction of the School Threat Assessment policy. As one member stated, “it’s literally how new it is the first time and this was just thrown at us that by September we had to have this in place.” The board faced challenges with limited guidance on how to effectively enact this policy. Superintendent Giovanni Giancaspro shared his intent to participate in an upcoming training session for superintendents across Lowber County, hoping it would provide more clarity. A community member’s query about parent notification regarding the use of threat assessments on their children underscored the community’s need for transparency and information.
On the heels of this significant policy discussion, the board received a concerning notification prohibiting “outdoor activities tomorrow due to social Med threats.” While details remained sparse, the board had been alerted to exercise increased caution in light of this reported threat.
Infrastructure took center stage as Mr. Rogie, the School Business Administrator, presented an exhaustive report on developments in various schools. McKenzie School received notable upgrades in sanitary facilities and new boiler installations. Ongoing projects and services in other schools, like F School and Lincoln School, ranged from plumbing and roof repairs to winterizing outdoor sprinklers. A unique initiative in the pipeline is the training of a custodian to assume bus driving duties for the district.
The board also delved into operational matters, touching upon financial oversight, state-mandated reports, and high-quality academic instruction. Operational duties were delineated among Superintendent Giovanni Giancaspro and his administrative team, while personnel issues fell under the purview of Mr. Jaspo and the human resources team, led by Mr. Stalinski.
Student-related activities and programs featured prominently. The board discussed approvals for student field trips, transportation requests, and the extended school year calendar for the 2023-2024 academic year. A highlight was the unveiling of the After School Academic Intervention Program, slated to commence in November and run through May, providing assistance to families at no cost.
Recurring teacher and aide resignations were acknowledged, with the board stressing their commitment to retaining quality staff and highlighting their competitive salaries. They recognized the challenges in keeping specific roles, given the high burnout rates in certain positions.
Community relations also underwent scrutiny, with several policy changes and revisions. Notably, policy regulation 1642.1 was adjusted, allowing staff to use sick leave beyond sickness-related reasons.