Highland Park School Board Elects New President, Sets Goals, and Addresses Community Concerns

In a recent meeting, the Highland Park School Board swore in its new members, elected Marilyn Pruce as the board’s president and vice president, and appointed committee chairs and liaisons. A significant portion of the meeting was dedicated to discussing the board’s ongoing goals, particularly emphasizing the importance of community communication and the development of a strategic plan, which includes a 5-year plan for full-day preschool. Additionally, the board heard from community members on the safety concerns regarding school start times.

With the finalization of the school board election results, new members Sarah H. Pixley, Ethan Schoolman, and Nicole Loria Dan were sworn in. The board unanimously elected Marilyn Pruce as board president, a role she will also concurrently serve as vice president. The roles of committee chairs were established with Allison Casal-Dunn leading curriculum and instruction, Marilyn Pruce overseeing finance and facilities, Jennifer Voorhees at the helm of personnel and communications, Marilyn Pruce again taking charge of policy and regulations, and a combined effort of Monique Coleman, Allison Casal-Dunn, and Jennifer Voorhees on negotiations.

The meeting then shifted to procedural matters, with the approval of the annual board meeting calendar being postponed for further deliberation. In the interim, operational decisions were made, including the appointment of Denise D. Roa as the business administrator and board secretary, Brian Kowski as treasurer, and St. Peter’s University as the school physician. The board also took unanimous action on resolutions related to the adoption of rules, regulations, and policies, which will allow the superintendent to hire new staff in the board’s absence, with formal approval to follow.

A discussion ensued about the board’s primary objectives for the coming year, highlighting community communications and relations as pivotal areas of focus. The board is intent on informing and engaging the school community, and in collaboration with the administration, is working towards a 5-year plan that supports full-day preschool for children aged three and four. This initiative is part of a broader strategic plan for the district that may lead to a referendum for necessary facilities expansion.

A topic of concern raised by community members revolved around the safety of young children walking to school during early morning hours. Two individuals from the community expressed their worries and advocated for a change in school start times to ensure children’s safety.

The roles and responsibilities of the board members were clarified during the meeting, emphasizing that they wield no individual legal authority outside of board sessions and must act collectively to make decisions. The Superintendent, Dr. Kristina Nicosia, was recognized as the chief adviser to the Board and is responsible for implementing the policies it adopts.

As the meeting drew to a close, the floor was opened for public comments from attendees both in-person and online.

Note: This meeting summary was generated by AI, which can occasionally misspell names, misattribute actions, and state inaccuracies. This summary is intended to be a starting point and you should review the meeting record linked above before acting on anything you read. If we got something wrong, let us know. We’re working every day to improve our process in pursuit of universal local government transparency.

Dr. Kristina Nicosia
School Board Officials:
Marilyn Pruce, Allison Casal-Dunn, Dan Battey, Dr. Monique Coleman, Anne Gowen, Michelle McFadden-Dinicola, Robert Roslewicz, Ann Vardeman, Jennifer Voorhees, Roy Crosbie (Student Representative), Andrew Dalton (Student Representative)

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