In a recent meeting, the Garfield School Board shed light on the commendable resilience of educators and students alike while navigating the obstacles brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic. The gathering also celebrated a heartening summer arts program conducted in association with the Hackensack Medical Center.
During the meeting, the interim superintendent’s report lauded teachers for their adaptability throughout the pandemic, comparing their mettle to that of soldiers. The superintendent stated, “Their hardest moments are also their finest moments… they knew that they were facing a difficult moment but they also knew if they did their best it would be their best moment at the same time.”
The board meeting did not merely celebrate educators but also awarded teachers who went above and beyond in the face of remote learning challenges. With nominations by their peers, these exceptional teachers received certificates of recognition from the local state Senator.
Amid these commendations, a remarkable summer arts initiative took center stage. Students involved in this program designed soothing ceiling tiles for hospital rooms, hoping to provide a sense of respite for patients undergoing treatment. The project drew attention from several news networks, reinforcing the district’s commitment to innovative and community-supportive initiatives.
Specific recognition went to Mr. Garcia and Mr. Redmiak who spearheaded this creative venture, and a student artist named Almira whose inclusive poster beautifully depicted the district’s diversity. The board praised their efforts, acknowledging the district’s consistent commitment to inclusion over the last 15 years, visible through various programs catering to students with autism.
While the meeting was rife with celebration, it also witnessed debate and thoughtful consideration around more administrative and financial matters. A new system to conduct background checks on students to identify non-district residents sparked discussion due to its initial cost of $8,700 for district-wide implementation. The decision on this was deferred for a detailed examination in a committee meeting.
The board also tabled a motion to review and renegotiate contracts with contractors and supervisors, intending to revisit this in the next meeting. Personnel changes were acknowledged, with several appointments approved unanimously.
Updates were provided regarding contract negotiations by a representative of the Supervised Association. Despite challenges due to transitions in superintendent roles, the negotiation process was characterized as “open, honest, and smooth,” with five-year contracts being common practice in the district.