In a recent Fort Lee School Board meeting, the panel ratified a collective bargaining agreement, discussed maintenance and health concerns, and deliberated on questions raised by community members regarding the inclusion of Muslim holidays in the school calendar and teacher hiring amid national teacher shortages.
The agreement with the Fort Lee Administrators Group, which was introduced as a walk-in resolution, was a pivotal step to start the school year with a contract. Effective from July 1st, 2022 through June 30th, 2025, the new contract underscores the district’s commitment to its educators.
Community members Thay Seysham and Michelle Perez were vocal during the public commentary session, raising several critical questions. Seysham voiced concerns about the status of repairs to the mall area behind the intermediate and middle school, the frequency of fire drills, and the quality of beverages provided in school vending machines. In response, the board assured him that they were addressing these issues, with adjustments to vending machine contents being considered and the frequency of fire drills being compliant with state law.
On the other hand, Perez brought up concerns about the allocation of school building rental revenues and the progress of hiring chemistry and biology teachers. She also asked whether the board had considered including Muslim holidays in the calendar, given that it was previously asked that question at another board meeting.
The board admitted difficulties in filling science teacher positions due to a national teacher shortage and did not give a clear answer on whether they would consider including muslim holidays.
Responding to Perez’s queries, a board member clarified, “That money [from rentals] is deposited into the general fund…we look at the number of school days we go by that the teacher’s contract…we do inform the union leadership.” Acknowledging the teacher shortage, they added, “we’re in a very difficult type market these days…I believe we are close to having everything filled.”
Several resolutions and items were approved, and the meeting concluded with no new or old business being discussed.