Palisades Park Board Grapples with Student Safety, School Facilities, and Financial Quandaries

The Palisades Park School Board recently addressed an array of issues, with prominent focus on student safety, the state of school facilities, and pressing financial matters.

School safety emerged as a recurrent theme. The board validated that mandatory evacuation drills were conducted successfully within the school’s initial ten days. Nonetheless, parents brought forth various concerns about student safety, the level of supervision, and the condition of school facilities. A parent recounted an incident involving a video recorded in a school bathroom and expressed apprehensions about the adequacy of monitoring during recess at Lindbergh School. Further concerns were aired about the drop-off procedure at ECC, depicted as chaotic and inadequately supervised.

In response to these concerns, a board member reaffirmed, “Safety is always a priority,” and pledged collaboration with administrators, supervisors, and staff to resolve the highlighted issues. The member underscored the importance of immediate reporting of concerns and advocated for enhanced vigilance and security.

The board also addressed concerns about extreme temperatures, with parents questioning the rationale behind keeping schools open during a heatwave at the beginning of the school year. They depicted it as a serious health issue for both students and staff, especially in schools lacking proper air conditioning. There were calls for more strategic decisions in the future, such as implementing half-days during extreme weather conditions to mitigate health risks.

This discussion assumed added significance with the revelation that the High School would remain without AC until the coming spring or summer, due to delays in receiving ordered equipment. However, the board appreciated the proactive scheduling of half-days at the start of the school year to manage the heat.

The meeting also explored the practicality of the no-visitor policy, staffing shortages, particularly for Pre-K teachers, and the transportation of students attending Englewood School of Choice, weighing the fiscal repercussions of providing transportation against offering Aid in Lieu to families.

Concerns regarding staffing shortages, particularly the scarcity of aides for Pre-K teachers, were discussed. The board highlighted ongoing outsourcing efforts with an agency and active recruitment strategies, including leveraging back-to-school night for recruiting opportunities.

Additionally, the board contemplated building and grounds matters, approving a car wash spot for the senior class and deliberating on the scheduling of PTA meetings. Discussions on staff appointments and curriculum matters were brief and without significant developments.

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