WOOD-RIDGE, NJ -- Staff re-appointments for the 2019-20 school year, approval of a softball scholarship, and a Stigma-Free Zone were some of the items on the brief agenda for the Wood-Ridge Board of Education meeting on Monday.

The Board voted to re-appoint 149 staffers, teachers, administrators, para-professionals, custodians, and other administrative staff, for the upcoming 2019-2020 school year. Two parents, during the Hearing of Citizens, spoke on behalf of Wood-Ridge Intermediate School (WRIS) principal Keith Lisa, who was also up for re-appointment.

Both Cheri Ottevaere and Melanie Rose-Rella, who is also a PE teacher at WRIS, praised Lisa as the school's administrator. Rose-Rella "spoke from her heart," saying the school's environment was "stable, calm, and safe" and that he was "loving, kind, firm, and fair." Ottevaere said Lisa was a "fantastic addition" and that her child's transition was "smooth and seamless." She added that he supports students' events outside the school and appreciated his "outstanding communications" for the school's reminders and events. Both noted that he added new activities including the Turkey Trot, Journalism Club, and sixth grade clap out, among others.  In response, Board president Albie Nieves explained that Lisa was being re-apppointed, but he is up for tenure in February of 2020.

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The Board committed the district to being a Stigma-Free Zone for mental health awareness, and "committed to creating public interest an open dialogue about stigmas; raise awareness of the disease of mental health, and create a culture wherein residents who have the disease of mental illness feel support by the community and feel free to seek treatment..." The Bergen County Stigma-Free Campaign is a county-wide program which aims to reduce the stigma associated with mental illness. The multi-step program includes adopting the campaign resolution, participating in training, forming a municipal task force, distributing promotional material throughout town, and creating a stigma-free action plan.

The Board also created a softball scholarship to be awarded to a senior softball player from Wood-Ridge High School. The funds will come from 15% of what is raised by the annual Donna Ricker Tournament. It also approved the football team's participation in the Hasbrouck Heights 7 on 7 Tournament on Saturday, June 14.

In his Superintendent's Report, Nicholas Cipriano congratulated the high school art students who worked on the Memory Project and were featured on the news over the weekend.


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