River Vale School Board Hails Academic Gains, Pushes Armed Guards Funding

The River Vale School Board recently touted academic progress, particularly in mathematics, in a meeting that also included discussions about funding to hire armed guards for district schools.

The meeting began with the Board President touching on an upcoming ballot question. The Rivervale Board of Education aims to raise $230,000 to employ three armed guards for each school, covering training and other related expenses. This would result in a permanent increase in the district’s tax levy.

Superintendent Melissa Signore delivered an extensive report highlighting the district’s academic performance and commitment towards ongoing professional development for educators. She underscored the use of multiple assessments, such as the New Jersey Student Learning Assessment (NJSLA), WIDA, and DLM, to drive instruction and provide a comprehensive overview of student performance.

Signore presented data indicating that River Vale significantly outperformed the state average at every grade level in the NJSLA. She attributed the district’s success to measures including the switch to a new math curriculum, engagement of math consultants and coaches, purchase of new programs for basic skills classrooms, and an increased amount of time on math in grades three through five.

Despite some areas showing a slight dip in scores, the overall trend was towards improvement. The superintendent emphasized that these improvements indicate that students are making progress and the district is rebounding from the pandemic’s effects.

The board also discussed the use of data to improve student performance, with Signore stressing the significance of data analysis and utilization. The district has been using evidence reports and Linkit Benchmark reports to identify areas requiring more focus. The superintendent also introduced the concept of data-driven instructional periods, which have been implemented across all schools and grade levels to facilitate targeted interventions.

Signore also detailed various interventions being used in English Language Arts (ELA) and Math and outlined next steps in curriculum development. She expressed her gratitude for the teachers’ efforts, stating, “We are relentless in our efforts to use data so we can ensure that every child is succeeding.”

Board member Louan Austin applauded the progress and improvements being made. Cheryl Berkowitz asked about the improvement in math scores that were below state standards, to which Signore attributed to revisions in pacing and language alignment with NJSLA. Other board members, including Virginia “Ginny” Senande and Arthur White, praised Signore’s enthusiasm.

The board also voted on a range of resolutions and discussed upcoming conferences and workshops staff would be attending. A community member questioned the vote on the upcoming security guard ballot, with the board clarifying that they could still revisit the issue if the community vote fell through.

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