SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ – At a South Plainfield Board of Education (SPOE) Committee of the Whole (COW) meeting Oct. 10, board member reports were presented and Superintendent of Schools Dr. Noreen Lishak discussed past and upcoming happenings in the district.
In her superintendent’s report, Lishak stated that the district plans to continue highlighting programs going on in its buildings, with student/teacher presentations taking place at board of education meetings throughout the year. Additionally, said Lishak, a second Parent Palooza workshop for the 2019-2020 school year is being planned; possible topics, based on parent and teacher input, include addressing social anxiety and addressing student anxiety that affects academic success.
Lishak extended thanks to the administrative staff and South Plainfield Police Department, including Chief Parker, Captain Siedenburg, Sergeant Colucci, and Officer Melanson, for their collaborative efforts to establish a reunification plan through which, in the event of an emergency in one of the schools, evacuation is made to a secondary site.
“Our partnership with the police department is essential for the safety of our schools so thank you to the police department for always being available to us,” she said, adding that the district has also teamed up with the South Plainfield Fire Department and Fire Marshal John Abbruzzese to present fire safety information to students.
Additionally, in her report, Dr. Lishak commended the Roosevelt Student Council for their recent beautification project and stated that South Plainfield students recently took part in the Hispanic Heritage Month (HHM) Celebration. “It is great that our students are getting out to the community,” said Lishak.
Held at the senior center last month, the HHM event was organized by a committee comprised of Latina community members as a collaborative effort between the South Plainfield Public Library, South Plainfield Cultural Arts Commission (SPCAC), and the South Plainfield School District. TAPinto South Plainfield published an article on last month’s HHM celebration (https://www.tapinto.net/towns/south-plainfield/sections/government/articles/south-plainfield-community-celebrates-hispanic-heritage-month), reporting that elementary through high school students participated in the event; students in Aura Salazar’s and Paula Rendon’s classes at the middle school performed dances, Grant students in Lizbet Arriola’s class danced and conducted a cultural session that included a display and explanation of Latin American artifacts; Leo Perero’s high school students read a poem and sang; and Rachel Klausner’s elementary students sang.
During the board member comment portion of the COW meeting, however, Debbie Boyle stated that she feels all of the district’s language teachers, including the high school Spanish teachers, should have been invited.
“I think that the head of the public library should have invited everybody. People were a little miffed that they weren’t asked and they didn't even know about it,” said Boyle, continuing, “The public library invited some of the teachers and I think that the high school teachers felt they should have been invited [and] they didn't know anything about it.”
“I will speak with [Director] Linda [Hansen] and ask her if, in the future, she can put that out to all the teachers, being that I am on that board,” said Stephanie Wolak, who serves on both the board of education and library board of trustees.
“The high school Spanish teachers were never notified and didn’t know anything about it and were a little upset,” said Boyle. “Thank you.”
During the meeting, Boyle also questioned the manner in which the town’s two official newspapers are receiving information about district happenings. “Sometimes, they don’t all get the same information about programs going on or the same opportunities,” said Boyle.
According to Lishak, official notices about district events and happenings are sent out to both newspapers. “Ms. Boyle, we’ve actually talked about this before,” said the superintendent, noting that when there is an official notice that goes out from the district, both newspapers get it.
“If it’s not, it’s someone taking their own initiative,” said the superintendent. “As far as what one paper writes over another, if one newspaper finds out about a program and calls and wants to set something up with a teacher or principal, we don't give the other [newspaper] the story.”
SPBOE Board of Education President Doug Chapman asked Boyle if she was aware of a specific issue in which one newspaper was notified over another. Boyle stated that there have been different programs in which the South Plainfield Observer has reached out and didn't get a call back.
“No one has contacted me about that,” said Lishak.
“I am just passing along the information,” said Boyle.
Following up on the aforementioned issue, Chapman, at the SPBOE's Oct. 16 Regular Public Meeting, stated that he reached out to the South Plainfield Observer to address the issue. “Last week….Ms. Boyle brought up a point that all the newspapers weren’t being notified of school events. I don't take stuff like that lightly, so I called the Observer. [Publisher] Nancy [Grennier] assured me that there are no problems and that she is not upset about anything so I was relieved to hear that...” said Chapman.
South Plainfield Board of Education meetings can be viewed online at http://www.spboe.org/board_of_education/board_meeting_videos. The next Committee of the Whole meeting will take place on Wednesday, Nov. 13 with the Regular Public Meeting scheduled for Wednesday, Nov. 20. All meetings take place in the high school information center, beginning at 6:30 p.m. unless otherwise noted.
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