VERNON TOWNSHIP, NJ --- The Vernon Township Board of Education met at Walnut Ridge Primary School this past Thursday to discuss several items on their agenda.

President Douglas Castellana was unable to attend the meeting due to an illness, and vice president David Zweir filled his position.

“I had a chance to tour the facilities inside and out and they have never looked better,” stated Zweir. “Everything from the classrooms to the grass outside. I’m excited to have kids who will someday go to this school.”

Dr. Pauline Anderson, Walnut Ridge Primary School's Principal, read from her report and stated, “We have a number of new programs at the school. One is bullying.”

In addition to the anti-bullying statement, the Vernon Township School District has included a useful resource guide on their website for parents to view. Click here for the complete statement.

“The board of education prohibits acts of harassment, intimidation, or bullying of a pupil. A safe and civil environment is necessary for pupils to learn and achieve high academic standards,” reads the opening paragraph of the policy.

“We would rather be proactive then active,” stated Anderson.

The preschool curriculum has also changed as well.

“We decided to implement tools of the mind,” said teacher, Mr. Mitchell. “This prepares students to learn to kindergarten and on. Another thing is to play purposely. The students make crafts that will only be used during play. Two girls made dolls and when the other girls asked them to play on the playground they stated, ‘We can’t, we are mommy‘s now.’”

Mr. Mitchell went on to hold up a cardboard box decorated as a car.

“The student who made this now thinks he is a mechanic. We think these tools can do this for our students,” states Mitchell.

In other business:

One citizen addressed the Board of Education on the new parking fee rate for the high school seniors.

“I didn’t receive any notification about any fees for the students parking. I’m a little upset that 67 percent of my taxes go to the school. We already pay for them, for their clothes and everything. There has to be another way instead of going after our children for the money,” stated the citizen.

The citizen had believed that the school staff was ‘forcing’ the students to pay the fee themselves without the consent of their parents.

“During this past budget cycle in January 2011, we were thinking of ways to replace loss student aid,” replied Zweir. “Other establishments in Sussex County have paid parking so we decided to do it. The fee was to be $50, but someone along the line made a mistake and said it was only $10. In the January 2012 budget, we lost $1.8 million dollars from state aid so we had to change the fee to $100.”

Zweir explained that the school had lost the high amount of money due to a decrease in students.

“It upsets me a little because we are already paying our taxes. You want their health insurance, their blood type and drivers license information. They are 17-year-old kids,” explained the citizen.

“The alternative always is to take to the bus provided by the school,” explained Superintendent, John B. Alfieri.

“And what about the kids who leave school early to go to work? Or the ones who drive to work right after school? Taking the bus is not an option for them,” said the citizen.

“The parking fee has been discussed for two years. This is your first meeting, if you came to the others you could have spoke. It adds up to 10 cents a day. I can guarantee you that the students cell phones cost more then that,” said Board of Education member, Edward DeYoung.

‘Budget and work sessions are all available on the internet,” said Zweir.

“During the budget process we openly told the parents about the fee,” replied Alfieri.

The citizen and members debated back and forth, which ultimately ended in the citizen walking out.

Most of the people who had attended the meeting were teachers and staff who worked at the school.

“This is how much dedication our staff has. They could be at the Giants game instead,” joked Alfieri.