SPARTA, NJ – The Sparta Board of Education will address the 2018-2019 District Calendar at the regular meeting on Monday, May 21 according to the agenda published on Friday. The controversial calendar was approved at the April meeting by a vote of 8-1 with Kim Bragg the only no vote.
Dr. Michael Rossi had changed the traditional calendar by eliminating Martin Luther King Day and Yom Kippur closures. He also moved spring break away from the Easter holiday to the week before AP exams in May.
While he did not offer and explanation for the changes at the board of education meeting, minutes of the Personnel Committee said, “the calendar has spring break happening the first week of May to allow families the chance to go on vacation at a more affordable price.”
Board member Michael Mc Govern proposed and got Martin Luther King Day back as a closure. Discussion about spring break’s impact on AP tests did not get the date changed. Instead, Rossi faced the ire of students and parents later in the meeting and in the following weeks.
Rossi’s response to a parent’s letter got a lot of attention from the community because he included comments such as “We rank 38thin education globally and #1 in gun violence. Teenage depression, opioid use and suicide are all around us, a 19-year-old murders 17 school children and yet the sky is falling because AP exams are coming after spring break. Whatever happened to ‘as long as they are healthy’ as a mantra?”
High school student Simon Levin wrote an open letter to Rossi questioning a number of his comments including “No one will die, not one will get cancer…It’s not being in the waiting room of Sloan Kettering or CHOP while your child is in surgery – it’s a school calendar.”
The calendar is on the agenda though what changes are being proposed are unknown as they are not included on the agenda.
Additional business at the May meeting will take place in executive session as the board interviews candidates for a soon to be vacated seat. Linda Curcio announced she will be leaving as of June 1.
According to Business Administrator Pam Hinman four people have applied for the position; Jen Grana, Kate Matteson, Juan Raigosa and Karen Scott. Hinman said the candidate “interviews will be Monday night. Appointment Monday as well. And swearing in June 21.”
Grana has been lobbying the board of education and district administrators to get recess increased from 15 minutes for the students at Alpine school.
Scott has been a board member for years. She resigned her seat earlier this year, before the term ended.
The board of education meeting will be in the auditorium of the Mohawk Avenue School beginning at 7:30 p.m. and is open to the public.