BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ - Don't look for Superintendent of Schools Melissa Varley at graduation on July 8, she won't be there. As much as she would like to attend her first graduation as superintendent, she said a trip to Florida last week leaves her “caught up in the newly announced quarantine.” She will also miss the senior picnic on July 7 -- unless it rains, in which case she should be cleared to attend the picnic on its rain date, July 14. 

Her remarks were made at the last Board of Education meeting of the 2019-2020 school year, on Tuesday, June 30, during her Superintendent's Report. 

With any luck, the plan is for schools to reopen in September. Dr. Varley said she, other administrators, board members and staff, are grappling with the 104 page “Road Back Report” just released by the governor. “The NJ plan provides broad outlines that we will use to guide us in crafting our plan and modifying our programs.  The admin team has formed committees to work through important areas, and we will be reaching out to other stakeholders to participate in the process,” she said. The goal is to be able to announce the plan by August 3. Between now and then, there will be updates for the community. 

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Parents can help with the planning process by responding to a survey which was sent out on June 17. Only 334 responses have been received as of Tuesday. She said she will resend the survey Wednesday.   

The school district has formed a Diversity Committee. Its mission is to support the diversity committees at the high, middle and elementary schools as they celebrate the diversity of the “community, and foster inclusiveness and acceptance through a three-tiered approach: Celebration, Communication, and Education,” she said.

The District Diversity Committee will be made up of two members from each of the high, middle and elementary Diversity Committees, three parents, a board member and the superintendent.The committee will be the hub for discussing and coordinating building level activities, planning larger events, and hearing what’s on the community’s mind when it comes to diversity, equity and inclusiveness. The district level committee will also work with the newly formed Township Diversity Committee and school board.

The building level committees will work on their own diversity celebrations, planning and running large scale events, speakers, roundtables and as the place to talk about curriculum and instruction.

Other changes planned include expanding the “pool of diverse candidates, adding implicit bias training for staff and administration, and doing a broad curricular review,” she said.

All the committees will include community and student voices. Anyone interested in volunteering should contact the superintendent. 

“I have received much feedback from the community over the past several weeks regarding diversity in the BHPS, and I want to assure you that you have been heard and that the district is committed to diversity and inclusion,” Dr. Varley concluded.