Dear Members of the Tenafly Public School Community,
I hope this finds you well and ready to welcome spring 2019 later this week! The weather in the early part of this month certainly reminded us that March comes in like a lion. Now, as we find ourselves in the second half of the month, we are anxious to see it go out like a lamb, preferably in the form of green grass, blooming buds, and the associated sounds of spring, like the crack of the bat and the laughter of children playing in the park.
We are delighted to tell you that the County has approved new polling locations for three election districts. District 1, which used to vote at Mackay School, will now vote at Borough Hall. District 2, which voted at Mackay School, will now vote in the McCandless Room outside the Tenafly Public Library. District 7, which voted in the Middle School, will now vote at the Tenafly Senior Center. The changes will be made in time for the Primary voting on June 4th. On behalf of our entire school community, we extend appreciation to Mayor Rustin and the Tenafly Council, as well as Borough Administrator, Lissette Aportella, for the vast amount of work and effort they put into the process which led to these changes.
In late February, communication was sent by Suez Water to some Tenafly residents regarding the elevated levels of lead in their home’s water. While we cannot speak on the quality or contents of the main pipes coming into our buildings, we can assure that all testing of water that is provided by the school water systems is completed as required.
The district complies with all required water testing by testing all drinking outlet sources including kitchen/food prep sources as mandated. Proper and immediate action is taken when lead levels exceed the required threshhold. This may involve closing an outlet, adding or replacing a filter and/or retesting an outlet.
Wherever necessary, we install filters for water, and our filters are regularly checked to ensure they are working and filtering the water properly. This is to ensure that the water itself is safe for drinking/intaking. Districts only have to test once every six years, but Tenafly voluntarily tests its water every year. Our next testing is expected to take place in April.
On March 14th, Acting Bergen County Prosecutor Dennis Calo released a report of the Bergen County Safe Schools Task Force. This work resulted from the collaborative efforts of law enforcement, legal, mental health and school administrator groups and I was privileged to have been a part of the contributing parties. It is the task force’s expectation that our collective efforts with the Prosecutor’s Office will result in a clearly outlined accreditation process that provides specific and varying measures which will allow schools in Bergen County to earn accreditation and be identified as having met the standards set by the County. Inherent to this, and as noted in the report from the Prosecutor’s Office, is the understanding that safety measures can appear different in different schools and different districts. For this reason, districts must be attuned to their specific needs.
Parallel to the task force work, Chief Chamberlain and I have met numerous times and we are excited to be launching an in-district School Safety Planning Team meeting later this month for the purpose of initiating collaboration and conversation on the many components of school safety addressed by the County task force. In the month ahead, we are slated for a visit by the county assessment team so they might join us in a walk our facilities and provide recommended actions. Tenafly remains committed to keeping safety and security part of our routine conversations, and in the year ahead, we hope to serve as one of the districts which will pilot the accreditation process being put forth by the prosecutor’s office.
As shared with you in previous communications, the Tenafly Public Schools will undergo a formal evaluation by the Bergen County QSAC team this month. This team is made up by the county’s general education and special education specialists as well as the interim executive county superintendent and the county business official. The purpose of their work is to evaluate district’s compliance with state standards, as per the NJDOE’s Quality Single Accountability Continuum. We look forward gaining more feedback from their formal review and critique of our school district.
This is the first time in many years that Tenafly will undergo a full QSAC review and, given the starting points we faced in July, I am pleased with where we are. Our central office administrative team has maintained close contact with the county office this entire school year in preparation for this review to ensure we are as prepared as possible to demonstrate compliance, via documented evidence, in all required areas. Operations have been fine tuned, new practices have been established, and plans for more widespread understanding, cooperation and accountability are in place. My sincere thanks to each and every administrator, faculty member and staff member who contributed to our many preparation efforts for this evaluation.
Despite the impact felt by any organization when undergoing outside evaluative assessment, I feel very fortunate to be at a place whereby the practices of the district are being examined and evaluated with depth and candor, thus offering a baseline from which we can truly begin measuring growth and monitoring progress. These various types of state data, such as QSAC evaluations and School Performance Reports, combine with a plethora of district data to ultimately give us the all important “what” be it in qualitative form, quantitative form or both. From here we can move onto the important question of “So what?” in order to determine that which the data/feedback concludes, and, then to the all important question of “Now what?” which is the question that results in action and strategy.
In closing, please join me in congratulating Tenafly’s very own Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction, Dr. Evelyn Mamman, on being recognized by National Association of Federal Education Program Administrators as the State of New Jersey’s 2019 award recipient. This national recognition is in response to her demonstrated “service to the Nation’s children” through her achievements using federal programming to support each student’s success. Dr. Mamman is voluntarily forgoing her attendance to this national recognition event and awards ceremony, taking place in Washington, D.C., in order to be present here in Tenafly for our QSAC monitoring, which only further illustrates her commitment to her profession and her dedicated service to children.
Support for our schools comes in many forms, and this is made evident by the extensive cooperation and multifarious contributions of so many parents in the Tenafly community. I personally thank you for all you do for the Tenafly Public Schools. It remains my privilege and honor to serve you.
Very Truly Yours,
Shauna C. DeMarco