Verona School Board Sets Sights on Professional Development, Addresses Student Performance and Bullying Concerns

In a recent Verona School Board meeting, the board discussed their commitment to earning New Jersey School Board certification, examined student performance data with a focus on addressing gender discrepancies, and addressed concerns over bullying incidents. Superintendent Diane DiGiuseppe emphasized the importance of policy governance and the board’s role as the voice of the community, while advocating for a strong relationship between the board and the superintendent.

Superintendent DiGiuseppe began the discussion by underscoring the board’s commitment to professional development, highlighting their progress toward earning New Jersey School Board certification. The board has already completed 11 of the required 16 credits, illustrating their dedication to advancing their knowledge and skills. DiGiuseppe also emphasized the importance of the board functioning as the voice of the community, ensuring that community expectations are met, and maintaining accountability.

When discussing student performance, DiGiuseppe presented data showing positive trends and improvements in student learning. She noted considerable improvement in middle school students’ results, particularly in grades five and six. However, a discrepancy between boys and girls’ performance in grades seven and eight was noted, with DiGiuseppe emphasizing the need to address this gap. Similar gender discrepancies were noted in high school performance, sparking discussions on potential curriculum deficits and interest-related issues that could be contributing to these disparities.

The district’s performance was compared to the New Jersey average, with Verona scoring higher in language arts. However, concerns were raised over a decline in math scores, prompting a debate among board members. Strategies such as reviewing curriculum standards, implementing new math programs, and focusing on developing problem-solving skills, rather than just quick correct answers, were discussed to improve outcomes.

Another significant issue raised was bullying within the district. Laurel Bry expressed concern about various issues such as bullying, racism, and drug abuse, suggesting the implementation of peer leadership and mentorship programs and further training for teachers. Superintendent DiGiuseppe acknowledged the need for character education programs and proposed a pilot program focusing on empathy. The need for a clear reporting mechanism and support for students who come forward was also emphasized.

In the realm of athletics, the board commended the volleyball team for their accomplishments and briefly discussed other athletics-related matters. Other administrative matters, including approval of minutes and personnel changes, were discussed and approved. The board also adjusted the date of the budget hearing to align with their plan of having two meetings instead of three.

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Superintendent: Diane DiGiuseppe School Board Officials: Pamela Priscoe, Diana Ferrera, Lisa Freschi, Christopher Wacha, Denise Verzella

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