Hasbrouck Heights Board of Education Notes: Q&A

Hasbrouck Heights Board of Education announced a special meeting for Monday, March 26. Credits: Faith C. Ballantine-Armonaitis

HASBROUCK HEIGHTS, NJ --  A cross-section of topics were addressed at the open discussion portion of the Monday's Hasbrouck Heights Board of Education.

Uniforms: Resident Kevin Cowan asked whether the Board would reconsider implementing uniforms for the students. He referenced a 2010 parent survey where he said that parents had approved uniforms. School Superintendent Dr. Matthew Helfant said they would take a look at the topic again.

School playgrounds: Tara Eckert said that she had heard that the elementary schools would be getting new playground equipment.  Helfant said "not at this time."

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Excessive homework: Parent Lisa Krommenhoek observed that her fourth grader seems to have an excessive amount of homework. She mentioned a discussion she had with school principal Joseph Colangelo about her concerns. Helfant said he had discussed with him and that they will address the issue it an upcoming committee meeting.

Air conditioner concerns and MakerSpace: Janet Lohrmann agreed with a previous parent about implementing a uniform code. She also expressed concern about the air conditioner in the Lincoln School library, while needed for children with allergies, it is very noisy and distracting to students. She also asked whether the district would consider. putting a makerspace in a corner of the high school/middle school library. (A makerspace is a collaborative work space inside a school or library for making, learning, exploring and sharing that uses high tech to no tech tools.) Helfant said they would re-consider the issue of uniforms and have the custodial staff look at the air conditioning. He noted they try to work with the South Bergen Jointure Commission for that experience, but noted that the "with all the requirements within the current cirriculum it would be build to add that in."

School security and costs: Ron Ellis asked about the costs of hiring two new officers to replace the Hasbrouck Heights Police Officer who was previously in the school. Helfant explained that the salaries of the two new security officers are lower since they are retired professionals and part of the monies returned to the district over the summer was allocated to their salaries. He noted a savings of $30-35,000 with the new security staff.

Cyberbullying assembly: teacher Lori Cintron thanked the Board and members of the Bergen County Prosecutors Office for presenting an assembly to the sixth graders on Internet safety and cyberbullying. She said it was "silent for the hour that he spoke" and that it was "an excellent program."

Class sizes: Student Rei Vaca expressed his concerns that class sizes are getting too big. He acknowledged that it does vary from year to year, but this year he has "five out of six classes that have more than 30 people." He suggested dividing the media center into smaller classes and that it's affecting personally. Helfant said "any time a student brings something up, it's very important. I know the class sizes are high." He said when he meets with the Student Council, that'll be a topic. He said they'd look at the issue again.

Mental health committee: Kristen Doherty asked about the role of the mental health committee. Helfant explained it is made of members of the child study team, guidance counselors, and middle school/high school principals. It is a resource for both students and parents. He said they are looking to increase number of counseling sessions available for students. Doherty offered her services as a licensed professional counselor.


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