MONTCLAIR, NJ – An update was provided regarding the Montclair High School stair tower replacement timeline during the Board of Education public meeting held Wednesday evening at the George Inness Annex Atrium at Montclair High School.


Presiding over the meeting were Superintendent Kendra Johnson, Board President Laura Hertzog, Vice President Joseph Kavesh, Business Administrator and Board Secretary Emidio D’Andrea, Jessica de Koninck, Latifah Jannah, Eve Robinson, Priscilla Church and Anne Mernin.


Bids for the stair tower replacement at MHS opened on April 3 and the awarding of the bid will be announced on April 15 at the next board meeting.  Asbestos abatement will be done from May 20 to July 1, and stair installation will be done from July 1 to August 23.  A communication will be sent via email to current MHS student families and eight grade families with this information.

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Kendra Johnson touched on several topics during her superintendent’s report.


“In an effort to attain New Jersey Department of Education World Language Program distinction, we are working diligently to redesign and enhance our K through 12 World Language Program,” said Superintendent Johnson.  “It’s important to note that this initiative was paid for by the district in an effort to encourage students to seek this very high designation here within the State of New Jersey.”


“The annual realtors roundtable was a huge success as we had over 40 realtors from the community there, as well as our board president and business administrator,” Johnson said.  “We opened a dialogue with our realtors that they can be good ambassadors’ about the school district and if they receive any questions in the field, they know that they can reach out to us.”


“We will be the first district in New Jersey to have a coordinated effort between local mental health experts and the school district,” said Johnson.  “We will memorialize our relationship with these agencies so that on a monthly basis, we can provide intense wraparound review and support for young people who are in need the most in our schools – especially the high school.”


Johnson invited all booster club leaders from academics and sports to a meeting on Tuesday, April 9, 6 pm at Montclair High School so the board can thank all the leaders in person for their significant support and review policies covering booster work, answer questions and collaborate.


A discussion was held about ‘option B’ on the 2019-20 school calendar regarding the requirement of single session professional development days being held on select Thursday’s during the school year.


“It’s a wonderful opportunity on a regular basis for the district to have that space and time that teachers can come together and talk about and learn about issues,” said Pricilla Church.  “I understand that (single session days) are an inconvenience for the families, even if we did three full days of professional development days.  It will be an inconvenience no matter what is done but it’s an opportunity for teachers to meet in a professional learning community and have inter-district dialogue.”


President Hertzog made a suggestion regarding the professional development days, suggesting “why don’t we do half of them on Thursdays and half of them on Fridays?”


Johnson said she would take that into consideration.


Secretary D’Andrea stated that for the current school year of 2018-19, there are a total of $244,000 in reimbursements received.  To date, the total is $1.8M in reimbursements that are going back to the township. 


In a liaison report, Church thanked the board committee for their work in catching up on the two lost snow days, and thanked Superintendent Johnson for following through on the professional development day requirement statute.

During the public comment portion of the meeting, Colleen Martinez, a mental health professional, talked about the protection of the mental health of the students in the district in the aftermath of a teacher who allegedly yelled at and berated students in her care, and if there was a follow-up with the students who were impacted by the incident.


In business office happenings, approval was unanimous for conference and travel requests, and authorization to solicit bids for the Parette Somjen Architects Project for field turf replacement at Watchung School.  Discussion and bids for upgrading the playground at Watchung will be done at a later date.


The first reading of the 2019-20 school calendar was also unanimously approved.


The Board of School Estimate meeting is Thursday, April 4, with final budget adoption expected.


The next Montclair Board of Education regular public meeting is Monday, April 15 in the George Inness Annex Atrium.  The meeting begins at 5:30 pm and immediately goes into closed session until approximately 7:30 pm when it re-opens to the public.