MONTVILLE, NJ – Superintendent Dr. Paul Fried was honored by Board of Education members and the public at his final BOE meeting on Tuesday June 16 at the Montville Township Municipal Building.
Dr. Fried has been the superintendent of the Montville Township School District since 2010 and will be leaving the District when his contract ends at the end of this month. His resignation comes after New Jersey passed a cap on superintendent salaries at $175,000.
Board President Karen Cortellino was the first to speak on behalf of the work Dr. Fried has done during his time in Montville Township, saying, “It is not fair to send him off without some recognition.”
Cortellino described how Dr. Fried’s manner brought calm to the Township at a time of turbulence, and listed his many achievements as superintendent, including his preparation for the Common Core program, his work on the Original Science Research Program, and his improvement of District facilities such as the athletic fields and air conditioning systems throughout the schools.
“In short, Paul has created an environment that calls for and encourages our dedicated staff to grow and explore,” said Cortellino. She finished by saying, “I’ve had the unique opportunity to get to know him well, and it’s been a privilege. We’re going to miss you.”
Cortellino was followed by other board members who spoke in praise of Dr. Fried’s work and personality.
“Immediately Paul put us at ease,” said Board Member Carmela Novi. “Immediately it became obvious that Paul’s priorities were the children and the level of education.”
“Thank you for showing us what is possible,” said Board Member Michael O’Brien.
To see what other board members had to say in recognition of Dr. Fried, see the video below.
After the board had the chance to recognize Dr. Fried, Board Member Michael Johnson presented Dr. Fried with an Honorary Mustang and a Recognition Plaque.
Johnson called Dr. Fried’s arrival a “shifting of the tides,” and said Fried’s time in Montville, “led to a rediscovery of the feeling of Mustang Pride.”
To see the full presentation ceremony and hear Board Member Michael Johnson’s speech to Dr. Fried see the video below.
After the presentation of the Honorary Mustang and Recognition Plaque, Dr. Fried thanked the Board of Education for their “thoughts and comments,” then spoke about his work with the Board and his time in Montville.
“It is vital to the success of a school district that the superintendent and the Board of Education can collaborate and work together towards the success of the children,” said Fried. “So I appreciate that deeply.”
“It is very bittersweet that I am leaving the district and I want to thank our entire community, our children, their parents and everyone involved in education in our community for all of their support,” said Fried. “Because none of the good things that happened could have happened without all of you and I truly appreciate your support over my five years here.”
Boy Scout Receives Eagle Scout Award
The meeting continued with Mark Evan Romeo receiving his Eagle Scout Award.
Board President Karen Cortellino prefaced the presentation of the award by describing the long and in-depth process of achieving Eagle Scout status. Cortellino emphasized the merit badges Eagle Scouts must earn, saying they require, “an enormous number of hours.”
Romeo is in Boy Scout Troop 74 and has been in the Montville Township School District for 12 years.
Romeo’s Eagle Scout project consisted of designing and creating an overlook at the top of Camp Dawson that provides an informational viewing center, which houses historical information on the aquifer and gives a view of the entire aquifer.
The project additionally included Romeo creating gardens surrounded by mulch and benches for climbers to rest on and view the aquifer below.
Romeo worked with the Environmental Commission and Historical Society to ensure informational and historical accuracy and his Eagle Scout project ultimately took 190 hours to complete.
Cedar Hill Student Presentations
Cedar Hill Elementary School Principal Dr. Michael Raj introduced the two Cedar Hill student groups presenting for the Board of Education, the Character Education Committee and the Tools for Schools club and their faculty advisors Dr. Cathy Lundquist and Heather Praml.
The Character Education Committee, which promotes respect, kindness, and caring in students, accepted a NJ School of Character Award at Rider University in March where they presented on their Kindness Kafé, which received a 2015 Promising Practices Award from character.org this year.
The Character Education Committee told board members about their work with local veterans, their sponsorship of a student’s education in Ghana, and their recent fundraisers to help the nephew of a Cedar Hill teacher named Zach, who has gone through two liver transplants and is now dealing with medical complications.
The Cedar Hill Committee had a pajama day fundraiser, sold “Super Zach” bracelets at school, and created the “world’s largest banner” for Zach to raise money for his treatments. Additionally they made a supportive video, which they played at the meeting and can be viewed HERE.
Tools for Schools, an environmental program at Cedar Hill that is run by environmentalist and teacher Dr. Cathy Lundquist, also presented at the meeting.
The student Executive Board of the Tools for Schools program at Cedar Hill described their work at school, which included cataloguing the environment around Cedar Hill, creating rain barrels to help water the Cedar Hill gardens, and peacefully gathering at the New Jersey State Assembly in Trenton to ask representatives to pass a bill that would require school buses to turn off their engines while waiting to pick up students.
Tools for Schools also showed a PowerPoint presentation detailing their new Friendship Garden.
Violence and Vandalism/ HIB Report
Dr. Fried gave his state required, bi-yearly report on Violence and Vandalism/ Harassment, Intimidation, and Bullying (HIB) in the Montville Township School District from the six-month period between July 1 and January 1 of 2014 to 2015.
Dr. Fried reported that there were 11 total incidents of violence and vandalism during this time period, with seven incidents occurring in the high school, one incident in William Mason Elementary School, one in Woodmont Elementary School, and two in Lazar Middle School.
Compared to the previous six-month period, which had 21 violence and vandalism incidents, these occurrences have reduced by almost one half.
There were nine incidents of HIB, according to Dr. Fried, with six occurring in the high school, two in Lazar Middle School, and 1 at Woodmont Elementary School compared to 12 cases of HIB in the previous six-month period.
Food Service Worker’s Contract
The meeting ended with the board hearing public comments unrelated to items on the agenda.
Shirley Newell of the Montville Township School District Food Service Workers Union addressed the board with Lucille Solimando, a food service worker who has worked in Montville Township for 28 years.
Newell, who has addressed the Board previously to discuss the Montville Township School District’s cafeteria food subcontractor, Pomptonian, described the “unbearable conditions” food service workers are facing and asked the board to describe their bidding process for contactors so that she could understand how Pomptonian, an “irresponsible” contractor, could be chosen.
Board President Cortellino assured Newell that such decisions are “oftentimes not financially driven,” and stated, “What we care about are the students and the people who work in our district.”
School Business Administrator James Tevis then detailed the “extensive process outlined by the state of NJ” that the District goes through to choose contactors.
Newell also discussed the poor treatment food service workers in the District are facing, which she said include no sick days, no bereavement days, and no holidays other than Thanksgiving.
Tevis said that treatment of food service workers is the contractor’s responsibility to look into.
To learn more about this issue click HERE.
The next scheduled Montville Township Board of Education meeting is at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, July 21 at the Municipal Builiding.