In a recent Teaneck School Board meeting, discussions ensued on the state’s “high impact grant opportunity” for tutoring, the deteriorating state of Hawthorne Field, and school security measures. As these pressing issues unfold, residents, board members, and students vocalize their concerns and hopes for the future of Teaneck’s educational environment.
At the forefront of the meeting was the state-provided “high impact grant opportunity,” aimed at tutoring third and fourth graders not meeting state assessment standards. The district has partnered with Sylvan Learning Center to deliver this program. However, doubts about the state assessment’s accuracy arose, with Dr. Dennis Klein questioning its ability to reflect students’ genuine capabilities. Superintendent Dr. Andre Spencer emphasized the necessity to adhere to state guidelines, warning against potential disqualification from the grant if not adhered to.
Parallel to this, concerns about the deteriorating state of the Teaneck baseball field, Hawthorne Field, were prominent. Residents voiced apprehension over a rumored agreement with Fairleigh Dickinson University which, if true, would divert funds intended for Hawthorne upgrades towards lighting FDU’s field. However, the board did discuss collaborating with the township to address Hawthorne’s flooding problems. Suggestions included sodding, grading, and updating the irrigation system and fencing.
School security also emerged as a focal point, with residents stressing the significance of a physical security presence. While the board accentuated the role of technology in school security, Dr. Spencer acknowledged the call for increased diversity in the security staff, especially concerning gender. Teaneck High School sophomore Leora Palavin brought to light issues from a student perspective, including the absence of state-mandated period products in school bathrooms and the need for vegetarian food options in the cafeteria.
Adding depth to the discussion, Mr. Sebastian Rodriguez shared insights from a seminar on supporting LGBTQ+ students, emphasizing state policies on equity and highlighting the challenges faced by these students.
The dual enrollment program allowing ninth graders to earn community college credits also generated interest. The program offers ninth graders a unique opportunity to potentially secure an associate degree by the time they graduate high school, given early enrollment.
Debates ensued over various other programs and conditions within the school, from the WIN program at Benjamin Franklin Middle School causing students to miss out on recess, to criticisms over the lack of air conditioning in schools. The board acknowledged many of these issues, emphasizing the importance of communication between the school, parents, and community.
Closing out the meeting, the board highlighted its intentions to celebrate African American month and Hispanic American month continuously and asked the community to communicate directly with teachers and administrators regarding concerns before approaching the board. The board confirmed further discussions in their upcoming meetings scheduled for October 11th and 18th.