The River Edge School Board recently convened to discuss issues such as the school reconfiguration efforts, transportation plans, and the direction of World Language education in the district. They also touched on the allocation and use of grants, particularly the COPS Grant, and the process of staff reassignments to ensure a seamless transition for students and staff. Superintendent Cathy Danahy provided updates on various initiatives and plans for future professional development while board members expressed their views on these topics.
At the heart of the meeting was the discussion of school reconfiguration. Superintendent Danahy outlined the progress of this initiative, highlighting the efforts of the Climate, Culture, and Community Committee. Composed of 15 volunteer teachers, this committee aims to preserve existing traditions while exploring new opportunities such as bringing grade levels together for events and creating an orientation program for students transitioning to new buildings. The superintendent assured the board that community concerns regarding programs and traditions had been noted and would be addressed by the committee.
Several board members expressed their support for regular updates on the reconfiguration process and stressed the need for improved communication. To this end, Superintendent Danahy announced the start of superintendent office hours on the first Monday of each month. During these sessions, anyone can drop in and ask questions or offer feedback informally.
The meeting also covered the coordination with Genesis, a data coordinator, to streamline the process of transitioning students between buildings. Additionally, the district’s mental health professionals had organized a series on change management to support this transition, with the first session scheduled for November 28th. The transportation committee, set to meet on November 29th, planned to discuss drop-off procedures and staggered start times using valuable input gathered from administrators, teachers, and paraprofessionals.
On the topic of World Language education, the board examined the focus of the district and the state mandates regarding language mastery versus cultural immersion. The committee considered the possibility of exposing students to various languages and incorporating language learning into the library community time. The board acknowledged the shortage of qualified World Language teachers and discussed future options for sharing personnel, aiming to build a sustainable program in light of potential teacher relocations.
Superintendent Danahy also discussed the board’s efforts to actively recruit early for teaching positions by attending job fairs at various colleges. She mentioned the possibility of a half-day professional development session in February and suggested considering additional time over the summer for teachers to work on curriculum-related tasks. In a similar vein, the superintendent highlighted the formation of a group called “Teach Asian-American Stories” at Montclair College, designed to provide educators with resources and training to incorporate Asian-American and Pacific Islander history and contributions into lesson plans.
The discussion moved to the allocation of funds from various grants, including the COPS Grant from the Department of Justice, which will cover security-related projects. The board contemplated the timeline for using the grant, procurement processes, and the support received from the community in obtaining the grant.
In the finance and facilities committee report, board member Eric Langley presented updates on reconfiguration plans, staff movements within the system, and the process of moving students to the Genesis platform. The board discussed transportation budget account changes, facility renovations, and updates on grants received by the district.
The class three officers presented suggestions to make the environment safer during recess, including creating a map of designated spots for each adult and hiring lunch aids. The position was posted, and community members were encouraged to apply.