Community attendance at Board of Education meetings remains critical. It’s essential for parents and residents to monitor key decisions poised to affect the coming school year in many different respects. At the June 12th meeting, the district approved the hiring of two Assistant Principals, bringing the total number of APs to 11 for the first time since November 2022. Feedback from PTO presidents and parents was instrumental in keeping AP and teaching positions for the 2023-24 school year, despite a push by some Board members to reduce staffing.
It was announced at this meeting, that the Board is in the process of reexamining its decision to not approve two textbooks recommended by history teachers and their supervisor. A second vote was expected at an added June 22nd BOE meeting. The textbooks, including “Sociology: A Brief Introduction” by Richard T. Schaefer, would replace an outdated and inaccessible 2014 textbook currently in use for an elective course at Ridge High.
As a reminder, nearly 100 area residents attended the May 8th BOE meeting to object to Board members’ votes against the textbooks as bordering on book banning. This vote came after nearly five months of debate and controversy, which garnered the attention of state and national press.
Also scheduled to be voted on at the June 22nd meeting were revisions to the district’s 2020 Health and Physical Education Curriculum. Online surveys have been posted on the district website inviting feedback from families with students in the schools as well as community members; to date, 384 families and 271 community members have responded. Their responses will help to consolidate standards that many find objectionable and will provide curriculum writers ways to adapt lesson plans to better satisfy those who have concerns about content.
When the June 22nd meeting was held, the Board did in fact reject the Schaefer sociology textbook, with members Csipak, Light, Molinari, and Rascio objecting to its content. One objection concerns the book’s statement that increasing costs are causing some to question starting families. Other topics, related to various family and gender issues, were deemed inappropriate for the classroom as well. The Health and Phys Ed topics were not re-addressed at this meeting.
The banning of textbooks recommended by district teachers and supervisors serves as a stark reminder – the upcoming Board of Education elections in November are very consequential. To date, six applicants have filed as candidates for the November 7th school board election. They include incumbent Board member Jennifer White, in addition to Janice Corrado and David Shaw. Running on a Securing Kids’ Education ticket are incumbent Larry Rascio, as well as Deborah Marcus and Erin Weber.