In a recent meeting, the Glen Rock School Board discussed student safety, anti-bullying initiatives, and curriculum enhancements. The meeting saw the introduction of a new student council representative and discussions on various programs and initiatives aimed at addressing the social-emotional aspects of students.
A significant portion of the meeting was dedicated to a presentation on the bi-annual student safety data system and Harassment, Intimidation, and Bullying (HIB) led by Mr. Escalante and Miss Della Fortuna. The presentation highlighted the introduction of anti-bullying specialists and various training and programs focusing on building students’ capacity for empathy and emotional intelligence. The board acknowledged the need for continuous evaluation of programs and practices, especially given the higher incident numbers at the middle and high school levels.
The board also discussed the discrepancy in the number of programs between different schools, attributing the difference to the varying approaches of each principal and the distinct needs and resources of elementary, middle, and high schools. The focus was on exploring various resources and initiatives, with a preference for an approach-based rather than program-based strategy. The board believes that day-to-day programs, especially the ruler program for K-8, are more effective in addressing the social-emotional aspects of students.
Vivan Motwani, a junior at the high school, was introduced as the new student council representative. Expressing his excitement about working with the board and connecting with the student population, Vivan provided updates on the revival of traditions halted due to Covid and upcoming events, including an international cultural exchange with the Czech Republic. His optimism for the 2023-2024 school year was met with anticipation from the board, who welcomed his leadership.
During the public comment section, resident Jim Garafola expressed concerns about the direction of education in Glen Rock and the country, criticizing what he deemed as early age sexualization and division of people by race. He urged the board to represent the parents and not let the children down, emphasizing the importance of traditional values. The board thanked him for his input but reminded him to keep his comments focused on agenda items.
The meeting also saw discussions on resolutions pertaining to a pilot multi-sensory reading program and phonics. The board explained that the elementary principals and literacy coach were exploring additional programs to address phonics problems and were piloting Sunday and Phonics First to evaluate their effectiveness. The evaluation would help determine whether these programs align with the staff’s needs and expectations.
The engagement of a learning group, G7, which had previously conducted workshops focusing primarily on technology, was also discussed. The workshops received positive feedback from several staff members, prompting the board to consider bringing the consultants back for additional sessions. The board is finalizing plans for another Professional Development (PD) day on October 9th, which will include a variety of sessions, such as managing grief in students and additional technology learning sessions.
The board addressed cooperative pricing under item B7, expressing optimism about potential savings and thanking the board for being proactive. Several members wished Mr. Leo well on her retirement and expressed anticipation for updates on the Challenge Success Conference. The board was also appreciative of teachers who volunteered to be mentors for newer staff, acknowledging that the district, under Superintendent Dr. Brett Charleston, is now covering the mentor fees.
Old business was discussed, with updates from the Hamilton HSA meeting noting the successful opening of a new wing at Hamilton and the need for more lunch aids. A trustee expressed concerns about traffic safety around schools, emphasizing issues such as speeding, illegal left turns, and idling in front of schools.
The meeting concluded with the announcement of the next meeting scheduled for October 2nd.