NORTH CALDWELL, NJ — At the start of the third marking period, the West Essex Regional School District will launch a pilot to limit accessibility to grades through the Genesis grade portal during the school day from for both students and parents, the West Essex Board of Education (WEBOE) announced on Monday.

Following the pilot, the administration will assess the effects of the restrictions by distributing a survey to all stakeholders in order to garner feedback.

Noting that the district views West Essex students holistically, including their “social and emotional needs,” Superintendent of Schools Damion Macioci expressed that “frequent monitoring [of grades] is not healthy.

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“We need to focus more on the classes versus the grades,” he said.  

The board clarified that the new restriction will only affect the ability for parents and students to view grades while school is in session. Grades will continue to be available for review when school is not in session, and other items—such as schedules, forms, documents, attendance records, etc.—will continue to be available at all times.

A brief discussion ensued among the board members regarding the change. Tony Rubinich stated that he has “no issues with the pilot,” and Cynthia Egan stated that she likes the idea, as she believes it “eases the pressure off the student during the day.”

Ann Fahey suggested a slight change, stating that only the students should be blocked from accessing grades during school hours.

“Sometimes teachers make mistakes, and if an Email is sent after 3 p.m., there would be no response until the next day,” she said.

Also during Monday’s meeting, Macioci thanked the members of the West Essex Education Foundation for “their generosity and continuous support” as the board accepted a donation totaling $5,573.67. 

According to the superintendent, the funds will be used to purchase supplies for West Essex Middle School’s STEM, WE RISE, Spanish and reading courses as well as student council. The donation will also help West Essex High School purchase supplies for its Advanced Placement (AP) Calculus, AP Statistics, Calculus Honors, Probability & Statistics and AP Computer Science courses.

Additionally, WEBOE President Mary Adele Wojtowicz reported that in order to further professional development—as recommended by the New Jersey School Board Association (NJSBA)—the board recently conducted a retreat where members participated in workshops focusing on school board ethics and the district’s formulation of the Strategic Plan. Motivational speaker John Paul Gonzalez also discussed commitment during the event. 

During her principal’s report, West Essex Middle School Principal Dr. Gina Donlevie updated the board on activities that her students are involved in and recent professional development for the staff.

She reported that students have recently participated in Sandy Hook Promise's “Start with Hello” program, which emphasizes “acts of kindness,” and “Cookie with a Cop,” a new program where police officers from the four sending towns’ police departments visit the school so that the students can learn to “feel safe with police officers in the building.”

Professional development included an analysis of “overall trends within the classroom and identifying classes for differentiated instruction,” according to Donlevie.

Caesar Diliberto, principal of West Essex Regional High School, acknowledged the second marking period ShopRite Stars, stating that he looks forward to an upcoming ceremony recognizing the selected students. He noted that the ShopRite Stars program “offers the opportunity to recognize students that the fanfare does not always fall on.”

He also reported that there were 52 out of 69 college acceptances “on the spot” at the Dec. 11 college night organized by the guidance department. Grant funds in the amount of $1.3 million had already been awarded for college tuition, according to Diliberto, who expects that figure to continue to grow.

Diliberto thanked board members Egan and Fahey for joining the school’s Green Team and reported that a survey will be distributed that focuses on new programs that are intended to enhance physical activity. According to the principal, locations are currently being considered for one or two new outdoor classes.

Additionally, he said, the school will be conducting a waste audit in March to determine waste management. Diliberto added that the high school staff is currently working on grants by PSEG for amounts that range from $2,000 to $10,000.

In other news, Jann Skelton spoke about a recent North Caldwell Board of Education meeting, where she learned that the local board is considering a referendum to expand. She said there are currently four options being considered that range from a $25-million referendum to a $39-million referendum with the tax impact to the average homeowner in North Caldwell ranging from $721 to $1,121.

According to Skelton, a recent demographic study conducted by the North Caldwell school board reflected an increase in enrollment of 42 new students, which she said does not include any additional students that might enroll due to possible new construction at Greenbrook Country Club or Hilltop.

Rubinich reported that the WEBOE’s finance committee recently established a schedule for future meetings. He also noted that professional development will focus on reviewing the business administrator’s and treasurer’s reports, keeping them as “living document[s]” that will be subject to being refreshed annually.

The finance committee has also established a timeline for the upcoming budgeting process, and a tutorial focusing on financial management for board members will be instituted, Rubinich said.

Egan reported that she and Fahey recently attended an Essex County NJSBA meeting, which focused on sustainability.

The next WEBOE meeting will be held on Feb. 10.