Board's Reorganization Mixes New And Old
Board members stay the same - special education, principals will change
Wednesday night’s Board of Education Reorganization meeting reinstituted some policies and procedures of old, while making room for what outgoing Superintendent Dr. Charles Montesano called an “exciting breath of fresh air.”
After last week’s budget vote and school board elections, board members Patricia Shada, Peter Wendrychowicz and Ken Angelo, who all ran unopposed, were sworn in to officially re-take their seats on the board.
Board member Christine Davis nominated Shada to once again assume the role of Board President, which was unanimously approved by the rest of the board.
“I want to thank my fellow board members for appointing me president. It really is an honor,” Shada said.
In a slight change, Charles Saldarini will assume the role of first vice president, this year held by Davis, and Davis will move to second vice president. This year’s second VP, Candace Larson, will no longer serve on the executive board, though she is still a member of the school board. All appointments were unanimously approved.
Official results from last week’s vote were released, showing that the 2011-2012 budget passed by a vote of 1,329 to 858.
While many of the reorganization items will remain the same moving into next year, Mahwah schools will experience many personnel changes. With the superintendent, three elementary school principals, and several special education employees retiring this year, Assistant Superintendent Janet Donohue said she has been interviewing candidates for the positions.
“Though it may seem a little daunting, we are very excited for new people, new positions and new blood that will continue our mission,” Donohue said.
Montesano added, “We are losing a lot of great brain power and tradition in Mahwah, but we can look forward to this exciting breath of fresh air.”
Montesano said that four internal and two external candidates have been interviewed for the three principal positions, and the administration has been “very pleased” with the options.
After the public meeting Wednesday, the Board went into executive session to discuss all of the candidates, and possible options for the interim Superintendent. However, Shada said information about the candidates may be released at the next meeting.
One decision that has been made – the district’s business office secretary, Nancy Repetti, will move into the role of secretary to the superintendent.
“We now need to fill Nancy’s job, but we are very excited for the move,” Donohue said.
Donohue said new staff members will enter a mentoring program to become acquainted, or in some cases reacquainted, with Mahwah’s core values and objectives. Salvarini suggested a “summit” to educate all of the new hires in administrative positions, which Montesano called a “good idea.”
Also new for next year will be the introduction of a new program dealing with special education procedures in the elementary schools.
“We are going to be looking for dually-certified teachers,” Montesano explained, in a decision that will allow teachers certified in both regular and special education to integrate special education students into the classroom on a more individualized basis.
“We want decisions about special education practices to be based on student needs rather than labels,” Montesano said.
So, student schedules will start to include more time in the primary classroom, with “pull-out components” that will give students extra instruction in subject areas they need help in.
“It’s not a one-size-fits –all system,” Montesano said.
He also pointed out that the Special Services Department’s goal is to reduce the number of students who need special education.
“We’ve been doing that, but now we will be able to do it even better,” he said.
Staffing implications, which would likely affect Lenape Meadows and Joyce Kilmer, may require a few new hires in various roles.
“It is important that we don’t skimp on the staffing here, so that we can make this program happen the right way,” Shada said.
The board recognized the Director of Special Services, Lisa Rizzo, for bringing this new system to the attention of the Board over a year ago.