In a recent Fair Lawn School Board meeting marked by robust policy discussions and heartfelt goodbyes, Superintendent Nick Garcia discussed his departure, and the potential expansion of the district’s PCC program was put forth for future consideration.
Superintendent Garcia expressed deep gratitude towards the board, staff, students, parents, and the community as he prepares to step down from his role. His tenure, which began in 2017, has been marked by the continuous advancement of the district. He will be succeeded by Acting Superintendent Camille DeFranco.
The meeting was tinged with sadness as members and the public bid an emotional farewell to Garcia. His leadership was praised, especially his work through the COVID-19 pandemic and his strong rapport with students. Despite disagreements during his tenure, there was a unanimous acknowledgment of his commitment to the school district.
One poignant moment came when the Superintendent expressed his pride in the growth of the PCC program, a crucial part of the district’s education system. The program started with 14 interested students and has since seen a marked increase in participants. Garcia challenged the board to look into expanding the program, a decision tied up in contractual and budget considerations.
Although the potential expansion elicited excitement, it also sparked concerns about maintaining the high standards of the program. The Superintendent suggested including the previous year’s waitlisted students if the program were expanded. This proposition will be discussed further, possibly put to a vote in the next meeting, with the board agreeing to disseminate relevant information to all members before any decision is made.
The meeting wasn’t just about goodbyes and potential changes. The discussion touched on summer educational training opportunities for staff and the advancement of paraprofessional careers within the district. The board also acknowledged the tireless efforts of the long-serving staff who had dedicated 25 years to the school district.
Attendees voiced concerns about the rapid implementation of policies and requested clarity on discard procedures. These issues, along with the provision of student health services, particularly the rules for religious exemptions from flu shots, will be tabled for further discussion.
Tensions arose regarding board members’ understanding of their roles and responsibilities, particularly over perceived overstepping into administrative tasks. The issue of ‘car allowances’ and travel reimbursements also caused friction.
During the meeting, the board voted on several items and took multiple roll calls, some of which sparked debate. They also addressed a safety issue concerning school infrastructure, and the reimbursement of $710, which had been approved for an unidentified purpose.