MONTVILLE, NJ – The Montville Township Board of Education met on Nov. 17 and began the meeting with a moment of silence to remember the lives lost in the terrorist attacks in Paris on Nov. 13.

The Board honored Robert R. Lazar Middle School Science teacher Cheryl Zanone, who was named Morris County Teacher of the Year for 2015-16. She is the first teacher from Montville Township Public Schools to receive the county award. She now moves on to the state Teacher of the Year competition where she will compete against twenty other county educators from across New Jersey. 

“Before I was a candidate for superintendent, I served on the committee to choose the Morris County Teacher of the year. I was so incredibly impressed with the application submitted on [Cheryl’s] behalf and so was the rest of the committee. It was an easy decision on the committee’s part, in my opinion,” stated Superintendent of Schools Dr. René Rovtar.

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Rovtar showed a video that Zanone had made for her application for State Teacher of the Year and said it highlights “the enthusiasm she brings to the classroom and the wonderful work she does with our students day in and day out.”

Lazar Principal Sharon Carr stated, “She is Morris County’s first Teacher of the Year and she makes not only Lazar shine, but Montville Township shine.”

Carr then showed the Board and the audience a current science project Zanone was working on with her class, which was a prosthetic hand, made of Legos, string, a straw and masking tape.

“Cheryl you have made us shine. Thank you,” stated Carr.

Supervisor of Mathematics, Science, and Business Dr. Sandra Schwartz explained to the assembly that the prosthetic hand was part of a new unit, and “throughout the year not only does she motivate her kids but she has asked fellow teachers and me to come in and judge the students’ projects. She is involving other teachers in her projects. Thank you for all the work you’ve done,” she said.

Board President Dr. Karen Cortellino presented Zanone with a plaque and certificate of achievement, and Rovtar presented Zanone with a commemorative statue for her award.

“We kind of take it for granted when we see this greatness in our schools, because we see it day in and day out,” said Rovtar. “I can’t express enough, however, what a big deal this is for us to be the home base for the County Teacher of the Year. We are incredibly proud of you and you have made the spotlight shine on Montville Township, and we thank you for your work with the students every day.”

Zanone said, “My passion is to be in the classroom where I can encourage my students to be the best they can be. As a County Teacher of the Year I now have more opportunity to collaborate with other teachers, in the District and beyond. I know our District is special. I hope I can inspire others to recognize how beneficial it is to work in the collaborative environment that I do.”

Rovtar stated that Montville Township Education Association President Peter Porter said that the District will receive a visit from the New Jersey Hall of Fame Mobile Museum as a result of Zanone’s award. Cortellino said, “Teachers work so hard providing a quality education in our District. Thank you, Cheryl, for all you’ve done.”

Honoring Eagle Scouts

Members of Montville Township Troop 74 were awarded honors from the Board for achieving the rank of Eagle Scout.

Jack Krase’s project was to beautify the front of Cedar Hill Elementary School, involving 22 scouts and seven leaders. The group weeded, planted perennials, laid mulch and landscaping ties to outline flower beds, installed rain barrels for water collection and irrigation, and an interactive weather station. Principal Dr. Raj was “thrilled” with how the project turned out, according to the resolution Cortellino read.

Andrew Rycharski’s project involved constructing a 255-square-foot patio behind the Montville Township First Aid Squad building. Six inches of dirt were dug out, stone dust laid and leveled, and bricks laid. The group supervised by Rycharski also removed a tree from the front of the building and renovated the First Aid sign and planted ornamental grass and mulch.

“Achieving all the required badges is truly a life’s work for a young man. It is no wonder that communities around the country honor and respect all Eagle Scouts for the work that they’ve done,” stated Cortellino.

Library Parking Ordinance

The Montville Township Committee passed an ordinance on Oct. 27 which made subtle changes to the parking lot at the Township Library. One change was to expressly eliminate moped and motorcycle parking at the Library. Some teens who attend Montville Township High School had been parking their mopeds at the Library, but Rovtar stated they should instead park at the Community Park.

“The Library is not looking to change the application of the [pre-existing] ordinance, it’s simply to create a better situation in the parking lot with regard to parents who use that location as a drop-off and pick-up point for their high school students. The problem is in the afternoon; parents come into the parking lot and make a pick-up line which somewhat impedes the ability of the Library patrons to navigate the parking lot. The Library is asking that parents who use that location to pull into a parking space, pick up their child, and then leave, which is something that we certainly support. We hope our parents can utilize that facility with courtesy for the Library patrons,” Rovtar said.

She stated she had met with high school administration and Steve Toth, the District’s Facilities Manager, and they had agreed that parking mopeds in the main parking lot of the high school is not safe because mopeds have a low profile and can’t be seen by other drivers in the lot.

Read more about the Township ordinance HERE.

Administrator’s Report

District Business Administrator James Tevis reported that a lower interest rate had been obtained for outstanding school bonds, which will save a “significant amount of money.” He stated the bond payments are $2.5 million per year across three bonds and the potential savings due to the new interest rate is $200,000 per year. He said the bonds could be sold as quickly as Jan. 1, 2016, and he compared the sale to refinancing a home mortgage.

Cortellino thanked Tevis for working “tirelessly” with the State to receive funds owed the District for a grant obtained 14 years ago to renovate and expand the high school. The Schools Development Authority owed Montville Township School District $816,000 and due to “difficulties completing the project, we had problems collecting the balance of the grant,” said Cortellino. “First we had to get a Certificate of Occupancy, then complete the paperwork for finally getting the money we are owed from the State.”

Finance and Facilities Committee Report

Board Member Charles Grau stated that the High School Media Center renovation is “moving along.” The entrance from the rotunda area of the school into the facility will now be a set of double doors, and the dedication will be Jan. 19, 2016.

Grau stated new boilers have been installed at Lazar and Valley View Elementary School. Door lock projects are ongoing, he said, and the high school auditorium sound and lighting upgrades are being worked on. Window film has been installed in the buildings to decrease visibility as part of a security initiative. Grau stated the District has been paid back only $628,000 for the SDA grant and the District is still waiting for the remaining $188,000.