In a recent meeting that struck a balance between celebratory and serious tones, the River Vale School Board honored retiring educators and staff while grappling with issues of large class sizes, housing constraints for incoming families, and curriculum changes.
Superintendent Mrs. Sunuri opened with recognition of staff members who had demonstrated exceptional dedication to the district. The board paid tribute to teachers Lisa Constance, Catherine Sonell, and Kathleen Wadeowich, each boasting 25 years of service. Among the honored retirees were lunch aides Emma Armstrong and Dawn Clem, secretary Jill Donatello, head custodian John Monetti, guidance counselor Eileen Di Maria, and Spanish teacher and sports coach John Noon. The board also marked the transfer of popular teacher Miss Rossi from Woodside to the local high school.
Despite the cheerful recognition ceremony, the meeting was not without challenges, most notably presented by several concerned parents. Beth Stern, parent of a fourth-grader at Roberts Elementary, voiced worries over the large class sizes, expressing concern for their potential negative impact on academic achievement and student welfare. “One class has 23 students and the other has 22 students. There’s literally barely enough room in the classroom for all the desks,” Stern said, urging immediate action from the board to reduce class sizes. She highlighted potential consequences such as increased incidences of bullying and lower average test scores.
Adding to the chorus of parental concern, the Klansky family brought up the daunting task of securing housing within the district. Having recently purchased a house in River Vale not set to be ready until 2024 and failing to find a rental property within the district, the Klanskys face the prospect of an educational disruption for their children, with the only other option of paying burdensome tuition fees to keep their children in River Vale schools.
Meanwhile, Katie Moran echoed Stern’s call for smaller class sizes and lamented the scarcity of special classes like art and music at Roberts Elementary. She stressed the role such classes play in catering to different learning styles, stating, “it’s difficult to explain to a fourth grader why their friends from Woodside are having a concert and they’ve had like four or five lessons.”
In the face of these pressing issues, the Board acknowledged the concerns but did not provide immediate solutions, pledging instead to discuss these matters further.
The meeting also saw a nod to upcoming changes in the curriculum for English Language Arts and math, expected from the state in August. These modifications were introduced by Mrs. Sanande from the Curriculum and Technology committee, though the specifics remain to be revealed.