SPARTA, NJ- The Sparta Board of Education voted to accept the resignation of Karen Scott at the special meeting on Thursday night. The resolution said the board would be interviewing perspective candidates in public at the April board of education meeting.
The board attorney Mark Zimmer said the board of education had 65 days to fill the vacancy. The seat would be on the November ballot for a one-year position, to complete Scott’s term.
The resolution was unanimously approved prior to the board members and school district’s attorney adjourned into closed session.
At the special meeting, board president Kim Bragg fielded questions from community members and TAPinto Sparta about COVID-19.
Tom Murray asked a litany of questions about potential closures and cancellations including high school spring sports and other high school spring high activities, concerts, honor society ceremonies. Assistant Superintendent Patrick McQueeney said that was all unknown at this time. The district would be deciding as the dates approach.
McQueeney said some Morris county schools are closing and Bergen County has closed all 75 school districts. “They are getting different information then we are in Sussex County from their health departments.”
McQueeney addressed a number of other questions:
- Food will be made for students who receive free and reduced lunch by Maschio’s. They are making five box lunches per child and will be available for pick up at a location to be determined.
- Supplemental support services will be given to students at home to the best of their ability. Anything not provided during a closure, will be “made up” when school resumes.
- Elementary school students will receive packets of instruction. Students in third, fourth and fifth grade will be working through Google classroom. Kindergarten through second grade will have a limited amount of program on Google classroom.
- Any students with connectivity issues will be able to get assistance from the district. The district has ordered a “bunch of hotspots” for students who do not have internet access. Building principals will be handling the communication with their students to determine need and response.
- AP classes will be taught using Google platform tools. They have yet to determine how laboratory work will be handled.
- The Federal Department of Education was working with the state departments of education and The College Board and other organizations to discuss the implications of COVID-19 closures on standardized, state and national tests.
Hinman addressed questions about the cleaning protocol. She said every classroom and every desk is being cleaned every day. She confirmed the district owns only one Electrostatic Sprayer to apply the Purtabs cleaning agent. It is being used in every school and on the buses. She said she was trying to purchase another sprayer for the district.
She answered a question from Brad Prol about how the Puretabs was chosen. Hinman said the district’s “hands are tied as to what can be used, certain cleaners and disinfectants, can’t use bleach and aerosols.” Prol asked to please post the cleaning protocol so families could have an understanding of what is being done in the schools.
Parent Deborah Palmer was concerned that her child’s fourth grade teacher had been asking for additional cleaning products in the fall.
Bragg asked Hinman to talk with the principal. Hinman said cleaning supplies had not been cut off. If the teacher did not request supplies through the principal that might be the issue.
The district canceled after school activities, with the exception of high school sports and YMCA Before and After care program. McQueeney said they were evaluating groups that has contracted with the district to use the facilities. Hinman said in addition to the concern about having crowds in the buildings, those events will require the use of cleaning products.
Sparta schools are closed on Friday and families are being told “further details about Monday and beyond will be forthcoming,” according to an announcement from Superintendent Michael Rossi on Thursday afternoon. The district website, however, says the students will not be in school on Monday as it will be another professional development day. Clarification will be published as soon as it is received from district officials.