Two long simmering topics were addressed at the July 22 WW-P school district Board of Education meeting. One was the appointment of a new K-12 district science supervisor, whose duties will include the controversial honors biology program. The other was the re-naming of High School North’s baseball field, a topic of discussion since the death of star pitcher David Bachner in 2009.
In addition, the board presented a new policy on a subject that has proved to be highly controversial in some districts: E-mail and social media interaction between students and teachers.
Grover Middle School assistant principal Richard Stec has been tapped for the new science supervisor role. Stec, who has served as a science teacher and assistant principal, will be transitioning to the K-12 science supervisor position effective August 1.
The candidate who was previously selected for this position, Hillsdale, New Jersey, administrator Elizabeth Omegna, has decided to decline the offer due to personal reasons. The former science supervisor, Rebecca McLelland-Crawley, held the position for two years.
The honors biology pilot program, implemented at High School North for the 2013-’14 academic year, was protested by more than 150 parents in March. Parents expressed concern over the new student-centered instructional strategies, citing the unstructured curriculum, lack of focus on basic biology concepts, and vague project deadlines as detrimental to their child’s education (WW-P News, March 21). At the March 25 board meeting, the district presented a plan to alter student’s grades and revert to a traditional biology curriculum.
The proposal to name the baseball field at High School North after David Bachner was also discussed as the fifth anniversary of Bachner’s death on August 11 approaches. Several residents spoke during public comment, recommending that the district accede to this request.
Administration and Facilities (A&F) Committee Chair Michele Kaish addressed the issue. “The Board has put together an ad hoc committee, which will move forward and consider requests and recommendations for naming of fields and other facilities. The ad hoc committee’s recommendations will be forwarded to the A&F committee for review,” said Kaish.
In addition to Kaish, the members of the ad hoc naming committee will be Gerard Dalton, assistant superintendent, pupil services/planning; Jean Marie Seal, director of athletics; Michael Zapicchi, High School North principal; a North baseball Booster Club representative; a North PTSA member; and a WW-P community member.
The ad hoc naming committee will review the applicable policy, policy 7250, and will request community input through open forums and electronic communications prior to making recommendations to the A&F Committee.
Open public forums to hear suggestions for names for the North baseball field as well as comments on the naming process will be Tuesday, August 12, from 7 to 9 p.m. and Monday, August 18, at noon. Both will be held at High School North. Members of the public who are unable to attend but who wish to comment may send suggestions to WWPNamingRights@ww-p.org. These comments will be reviewed by the ad hoc committee.
The committee will provide its report to the A&F committee on Tuesday, August 19, and the A&F Committee will present the findings to the Board at the next scheduled meeting, on Tuesday, August 26. The Board is expected to take action on the recommendations at its meeting on September 23.
The Board also conducted the first reading of two new policies relating to electronic communications among teachers, staff, and students.
Highlights of these policies are that teachers and support staff must use their district E-mail accounts to contact students and should not give out their home E-mail addresses to students; they cannot communicate with students via cell phone except in limited circumstances, such as on field trips or relating to athletic events; texting is permitted in certain defined circumstances relating to school activities or other educational purposes; and any interaction between staff and students on social media is prohibited.
The policies can be found on the district website at www.west-windsor-plainsboro.k12.nj.us; a second reading of these policies will be held at the Board meeting on Tuesday, August 26.
In other Board action, Christine Capaci, currently the principal at Village School, has been appointed to serve in a newly created administrative position: director of data, assessment, and accountability. In this position, she will also serve as the district test coordinator. Capaci, who is a parent in the district, has served as Village’s principal for six years, and has 10 years of administrative experience. According to Superintendent David Aderhold, she will help the district prepare for a new era of testing and accountability, with the implementation of the state-mandated online PARCC assessments.
Replacing her will be Barbara Soares, who will serve as the acting principal of Village School. Soares, who is currently an assistant principal at Community Middle School, was previously a fourth grade teacher and a staff developer for reading and writing.
At this point, no one has been selected to replace either Soares or Stec at their respective schools; it is likely that these vacancies will be posted in the near future.
Other personnel changes include the appointments of Dawn Cuccolo, a special education supervisor from the Princeton school district, to the position of district supervisor of special services; Charity Fues, assistant director of human resources in East Brunswick, as assistant director of human resources; and Jason Harris, a controls operator and licensed technician at Princeton University, as assistant director of building & grounds.
High School North social studies teacher Bruce Salmestrelli introduced himself as the new president of the teachers’ union and said that he looked forward to working with the administration and the board during the coming year.
Board Vice President Richard Kaye also noted staff members who are retiring from the district, including Astrid Bohler-Monforte, Learning consultant at Village School, after 18 years with the district; Poonam Kapoor, third grade teacher at Maurice Hawk, after 13 years with the district; and Dutch Neck Elementary School resource center teacher Ellen Fuller after 29 years with the district.
The Board also presented a first reading of the revised smoking policy, amended to include language banning electronic smoking devices on school grounds. This policy can be found on the district website, and the second reading will be held on August 26.