NORTH CALDWELL, NJ — The members of the West Essex Regional Board of Education (WEBOE) approved “with deepest regret, but with 28 years of fondest memories of dedicated service” a letter of resignation for retirement purposes, from Barbara Longo Superintendent of Schools effective July 1, 2019.

Longo had been appointed superintendent in August of 2011 after her tenure as principal of West Essex Regional High School (WEHS) beginning in 2003. Prior to that, Longo held various positions on district staff since 1991.

“We are happy for Ms. Longo personally but very sad for West Essex,” WEBOE President Cynthia Egan said on behalf of her colleagues.

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Senior administrators, including Director of Curriculum and Instruction Ryan Gupta, WEHS principal Caesar Diliberto, WEHS assistant Principal Juliann Hoebee and West Essex Middle School principal Vee Popat, all offered congratulations to Longo upon her retirement announcement and shared their individual thoughts on how Longo has proven to be an excellent mentor as well as the positive impact she has had on their professional careers.

Members of the board of education will now determine the process and begin the search for a new superintendent.

In other district news, Acting Science Supervisor Luisa Tamburri coordinated a presentation of independent study projects completed by seniors Caroline Ban Nathan, Jennifer Ben Nathan, Kunal Bhatnager and Cormac Farrell.

The Nathan sisters, both of whom are residents of North Caldwell and will be attending University of Pennsylvania in the fall, presented a project involving neuroscience of opioid addition.

Bhatnager, also a resident of North Caldwell, presented a project involving biochemistry along with Farrell, a resident of Essex Fells, that delved into areas concerning the digestive system as it relates to pancreatic enzymes, lactose and intestinal functions. Farrell is planning to attend Washington University in St. Louis, and Bhatnager has not committed to a university yet but has been accepted into numerous institutions.

Tamburri also presented an update on the science department’s strategies to meet the four district goals for the school year.

The district goals for 2018-2019 are to:

  • Improve the self-efficacy and well-roundedness of the students;
  • Raise academic expectations;
  • Allow for greater access to technology for educational purposes; and
  • Increase and improve communication among the stakeholders.

Tamburri began her presentation by asking the members of the board to participate in a group exercise that her staff utilizes with students on all grade levels. The goal of the exercise was to share experiences, use a common language to apply, think and facilitate an objective. 

She also advised the board that there are now 33 West Essex students who have been inducted in the Science National Honor Society.

During his principal’s report, Popat informed the board that his students have raised $14,000 for the American Heart Association in their recent Jump for the Heart event.

Diliberto thanked all who participated in the high school’s production of “Grease” and particularly thanked director Brittany Miller for all her efforts. 

After a phenomenal wrestling season that saw six athletes compete in the 2019 state tournament in Atlantic City, Diliberto also announced that WEHS wrestling coach Mike Markey was named State Coach of the Year. 

He also thanked all the residents and business owners who contributed to the school’s Tricky Tray event, which raised approximately $20,000.

As part of the regular agenda, the board unanimously approved the appointment of Jason Lerner, as the new Teaching Instructional Supervisor of Science and Environmental Safety effective Sept. 1, 2019. Lerner has been on staff since 2010.

The board also voted to submit the preliminary budget to the Essex County Superintendent for his approval. The tentative local tax levy will be $39,349,582, while the total budget is tentatively $42,674,712. 

It was announced that the district is expecting a 21.44 percent increase in state aid, which reflects an increase of $245,698 if Gov. Phil Murphy’s budget is approved.

Additionally, the board formally accepted three donations to the district: Evolve Cycle and Fitness in Caldwell as well as the Patracuolla family donated $500 and $300, respectively, to the WEHS Masquers of West Essex theater program. Moustafa Abouelmagd donated $200 for the benefit of the West Essex High School program.

Some Upcoming District Events:

On Saturday, March 23, from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., the district will participate for the fourth year in Makers Day at WEHS. The family-friendly event will focus on STEM activities for all ages.

On March 26 at 7 p.m. in the high school auditorium, middle school students will perform in the sixth-annual music concert.

On April 2, two holocaust survivors will speak to the students as they prepare for their trip to the Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C.

The next board of education meeting will be held on April 8.