The River Dell School Board recently convened a meeting marked by poignant tributes to a long-serving educator and vital discussions about an upcoming referendum, shaping the future of the school district.
In an unexpected highlight, state representatives for District 38 – Assemblywoman Lisa Swain, Senator Joe Lagana, and Assemblyman Chris Tully – graced the occasion to honor Patrick, a veteran educational leader of the district. Recognizing his remarkable contribution to River Dell, the representatives presented a Proclamation outlining Patrick’s many accomplishments, crediting him as a cornerstone of the district’s success. A visibly moved Patrick expressed his gratitude, thanking the representatives for their ongoing support of education within and beyond the district.
In another significant event, the Board turned its attention to a critical upcoming referendum scheduled for a vote on December 13th. Members proposed various strategies to effectively publicize the details and encourage community participation. Architect Frank Messinio, entrusted with preparing promotional materials, was advised to design an engaging PowerPoint presentation and consider the use of yard signs.
In a moment that underscored the importance of the referendum, Board member Stephanie suggested a resonant slogan, “21st-century buildings for 21st-century learners.” Highlighting a broad commitment to educational inclusivity, she emphasized that the referendum is designed to benefit the entire community, not merely specific groups. The campaign’s first wave of promotional activities is set to launch on August 15th, the same day school sports programs resume.
Despite the enthusiasm around the referendum, the board members expressed concerns over voter turnout. They noted that past referenda often faltered due to low participation rather than content-related opposition, adding an extra layer of urgency to their mobilization efforts. They agreed to identify key communicators in River Edge and Oradell to help spread the message, aiming to ensure robust community participation in the December vote.
The Board also addressed a range of policy matters. A first reading of a new policy regarding vandalism and violence was conducted, which came not from an increase in incidents but from a proactive stance by the office of school preparedness. The board took up the matter of a new school publication policy, discussing issues of harassment, intimidation, and bullying in school publications. They agreed that the school would serve as a gatekeeper of information and committed to an internal assessment in cases of such accusations.
In addition, the board reviewed the descriptors for the “Global Communicator” role, agreeing to replace “understand, negotiate, balance” with “understand, elicit, balance,” and add “demonstrates empathy and respect to connect with others.” This shift was considered significant in fostering a more empathetic, globally-aware student body.
Despite the weighty issues on the table, the meeting concluded on an upbeat note, with student representatives reporting on a senior awards dinner they attended, and commending the community’s overwhelming support for student scholarships. As the board discussed the end of the school year, fondly referred to as “landing the plane,” members again took the opportunity to express their gratitude for Patrick’s service.