Northvale School Board Navigates Staff Changes and Renovation Delays

The Northvale Public School Board convened on July 20, 2023, making significant decisions around staffing, curriculum, and stalled renovation projects for the district.

Michael Pinajian, the Superintendent, underscored the near-completion of staffing for the upcoming term with only one vacancy left to fill. Key resignations were accepted, including that of Andrew Cole, a Middle School Social Studies Teacher. This resignation had cascading impacts, as his stipend positions for roles such as Girls’ Basketball Coach, and Debate Club Advisor were rescinded. Elizabeth Santos and Mauro De Santis were appointed to fill some of these roles, and Thomas Gierut is set to take on the position of Middle School Social Studies Teacher.

On the curriculum front, there were no major changes. The board, based on recommendations from the Curriculum and Instruction Committee chaired by Nicole Cowley, re-adopted the existing curriculum, resources, and platforms. Students have something to look forward to as well, with the board greenlighting trips for the 6th-grade to Camp Linwood MacDonald, the 7th-grade to Philadelphia, and the 8th-grade to Boston.

However, not everything went smoothly. Two anticipated renovation projects, the Media Center Renovation and the Softball Field Renovation, hit roadblocks. Bids for both exceeded the budget expectations, prompting the board to reject and decide on re-advertising the projects. Field Pro Enterprises, LLC’s bid for the Softball Field Renovation was considered particularly exorbitant at $167,890.

Adding to the operational aspects of the meeting, the board clarified regulations around the role and financial authority of purchasing agents. James Tevis was appointed as the purchasing agent, granted the authority to award contracts below $6,600 without seeking competitive quotes. Contracts between this amount and $44,000 would require him to solicit competitive quotations where feasible.

The board also addressed a few contract-related matters. Agreements were renewed with Dude Solutions, Inc. and Karl Environment Group, for a Maintenance and Technology Work Order System and AHERA Surveillance services, respectively.

On a positive note, local sports received a boost. The Northern Valley Soccer Club gained approval to utilize the soccer field on school property’s north end from September through mid-December. This was based on a recommendation by Superintendent Pinajian and the approval of the Committee on Facilities/Building and Grounds.

Safety remained paramount. The policy committee, led by Jamie Corday, presented revisions to Policy P2419 and Regulation P2419. These changes revolve around the School Threat Assessment Team, ensuring that safety protocols and assessments are up-to-date.

After a comprehensive executive session, an incident labeled #249407 was determined not to fall under Harassment, Intimidation, or Bullying (HIB), providing some relief to concerned parents and community members.

In wrapping up, the board president, Jennifer Venditti, welcomed the interim school business administrator to the district and hinted at productive discussions with referendum project contractors.

The next board meeting is on the calendar for August 24, 2023.

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