In a recent River Edge School Board meeting, a proposed school reconfiguration was met with heated debate, overshadowing other significant discussions such as a revision to the Gifted and Talented program and a recognition ceremony for an esteemed board member.
At the crux of the controversy were community members who vehemently objected to the proposed reconfiguration. Speakers decried potential consequences such as increased carbon emissions, a surge in traffic, a decrease in property values, and a negative impact on families. Sebastian Mascarella, a community member, accused the board of neglecting the public’s concerns: “you just stare at us like we don’t matter. This is your public… telling you you are going down the wrong path.”
The board was also criticized for allegedly ignoring safety concerns linked to the proposal. Adam Andrew, another resident, expressed disbelief that the board appeared to overlook these issues and hinted at potential legal action over perceived negligence. Additionally, the financial implications of the reconfiguration were questioned by Claire Granger, who inquired if there was any nepotism involved in the decision-making process.
Beyond the reconfiguration discussion, the board navigated other important topics. An overhaul of the Gifted and Talented program was introduced by Mr. Devin Warner, the program’s supervisor. Warner detailed changes driven by a new state mandate and a decade-long lapse since the last major update. A proposed three-tier model aims to capture a more comprehensive range of gifted learners, integrating a wider range of subjects, and leveraging a newly implemented cognitive screening system known as the ‘KOGAT’ cognitive abilities test.
Board member Miss Brown stressed the significance of this new model in recognizing and supporting gifted students who may have been previously overlooked, suggesting that the program should aim to develop all students as lifelong learners, not just a select few. However, the board’s proposed changes raised questions about the practicalities of the pilot program, particularly around scheduling and teaching practices.
The meeting also celebrated the long-standing service of Ms. Karen Judge, a veteran board member lauded for her 18-year dedication to the district. The board passed a resolution in her honor, each member reading a part and confirming it through a unanimous vote.