WEST CALDWELL, NJ — John DiQuarto—a former assistant business administrator for the Caldwell-West Caldwell (CWC) Public Schools district who died unexpectedly in May after being with the district since 2000—was remembered by community members during Monday’s board of education meeting.
Declaring that DiQuarto was “a fine employee who exemplified fiscal responsibility,” Superintendent Dr. James Heinegg presented a plaque to DiQuarto’s widow, Diana, after the board officially adopted a resolution honoring his memory.
The resolution stated that DiQuarto was “a loyal and dedicated professional” for the CWC district and a “beloved colleague” who “exemplified the ideals of diligence, honesty and integrity.” According to the resolution, “DiQuarto’s excellence at his work resulted in positive outcomes for the students and the community of Caldwell-West Caldwell.”
“He was my friend, confidante and mentor,” said business administrator Thomas Lambe. “He had said to me, ‘My job is to keep you out of trouble.’ He knew the numbers in his head. He always said, ‘Cash is king,’ and logged onto the bank account every morning to know the money was there. He was a presence, he was fair, thoughtful and kind, and we miss him.”
Former business administrator Ronald Skopak, who retired in 2012, also came to pay tribute to his friend.
“It was an honor to work with John, he was a loyal employee, a good guy who got along very well with everyone,” said Skopak. “It was a pleasure to work with John, and I am going to miss stopping by to say hello to him.”
Mary Davidson, a former CWC Board of Education president, remembered DiQuarto as well, stating that although board members “don’t get to know a lot of the people working for the district,” but that DiQuarto “came through” for the board when it was “going out for a large bond referendum.”
“I really believe it was his presence and knowledge that got us through the referendum,” said Davidson. “John will be remembered for many years to come.”
In other district news, one of Monday’s agenda items reflected the New Jersey Department of Education’s requirement for the board to vote and accept the enrollment report from the end of October.
As of Oct. 31, 2019, there are 824 students enrolled at James Caldwell High School, and 10th grade is currently the largest class with 227 students. Middle school enrollment totals 644 students, with grade 7 being the largest class size of 236 students.
Wilson Elementary School has the smallest enrollment with 258 students, and Washington Elementary School has the largest enrollment with 397. There are currently three sections of classes in grades 1-5 and four sections of kindergarten classes at Washington while the other elementary schools each have two sections of classes in grades K-5.
Additionally, board president Marie Lanfrank announced the retirement of Wilson Elementary School Scott Kenna, effective on June 30, 2020.
“We are going to miss Scott very much, and I thank him for his many years of dedicated service to our district and the children of the Wilson School community,” said Heinegg.
During public comment, parents questioned the status of the analysis that was conducted regarding long-term effects of the “minimal homework” currently being assigned at Jefferson Elementary School. Assistant Superintendent Kaitlin Jones responded that there is “no correlation that stands out, but that homework “was consistently provided that is meaningful to the students.”
Parents suggested not providing consistent homework to the students could ultimately give them a disadvantage as they reach the middle school, “particularly as it relates to time management.” Heinegg noted that the policy provides a standard of “10 minutes of homework for each grade level,” which is consistent across the district.
The district’s homework policy, which was approved in 2012 and can be found on the district’s website, states in relevant part that the “number, frequency and degree of difficulty of homework assignments should be based on the ability and needs of the pupil and take into account other activities that make a legitimate claim on the pupil's time.”
The regulation that defines guidelines for the policy is not available on the website.
Resident Chris Elko also requested an update on the process for determining a new math program for the district, to which Jones responded that the process is ongoing. She stated that analysis and due diligence is still being completed and more information will be available by January.
The next board of education meeting will be held on Dec. 9.