BOE hold their first in-person meeting of the 2020-21 school year


The Pascack Valley Regional Board of Education held its first in-person meeting of the 2020-21 school year on Monday night in the Pascack Valley cafeteria. The BOE discussed the mascot selection process, the principal search, and some members commented on the increase in coronavirus causes.

Abby Shapiro and Ilmie Xhaferi

The Pascack Valley Regional Board of Education held its first in-person meeting of the 2020-21 school year on Monday night in the Pascack Valley cafeteria. All board members attended the meeting in-person with the exception of James Stankus and Kenneth Ralph – who joined the meeting through Zoom – and Brian Hallowell, who was absent from the meeting. 

I want to thank the teachers and the staff because I read an article that said that 240 districts in New Jersey have yet to open up in-person,” BOE member David Steinberg said. “It’s something that [the community] really appreciates [of the teachers as well as the reopening committee].”

According to district Superintendent Erik Gundersen, the mascot selection committee will begin “as early as next week.” Gundersen said that PV Athletic Director Shawn Buchanan and PH Athletic Director Phil Paspalas are finalizing the Student Advisory Committees and that representatives from the committees are expected to share their progress to the BOE during the BOE’s first December meeting. 

“I want to remind the board and the people at home that any new mascot selections are going to be recommended to the full board in January,” Gundersen said. “So that’s the timeframe for when we should complete this process.”

During the meeting, Stankus said that the district should not “dismiss” the risks that the coronavirus pandemic has on high schools especially since “high schools pose a greater risk to the community transmission than elementary schools.”

“We find ourselves now looking into the next wave of sickness almost as unprepared as we were in the spring. It’s with a deep sense of foreboding, that I say to our municipal, county, and state leaders, that we should not hesitate to do what needs to be done,” Stankus said. “We need to take action now to reduce our community’s spread.” 

Gundersen also noted that the PV principal search will begin in December. Gundersen said the principal search will be “a similar process” conducted during last year’s search. 

“I’ll be working with the Board to establish what the protocols and procedures will be, and then we’ll initiate the search process throughout the winter – most likely [at] the end of January [or] beginning of February, into March,” Gundersen said.

The BOE accepted the resignations of John Rainey, part-time day custodian for PV, and District Payroll Manager Marlimyn Sinisi for the purpose of retirement. While Rainey’s retirement will be effective on Nov. 30, Sinisi’s retirement will begin Jan. 31, 2021. 

[Rainey has] been here for a little while – not too long – but we thank him for his service at Pascack Valley High School and wish him well in retirement,” Gundersen said. “[Sinisi] and her team have worked hard to make sure that paychecks get issued. She has been a godsend and a horse in our office, and we’re going to miss her greatly.”

Gundersen and Stankus gave the Board a health, wellness, and safety report from the committee meeting hosted two weeks ago. During the meeting, Dr. Steven Myers spoke on developing resources for students’ emotional and mental well-being, as a result of the pandemic.

“It’s been a very long two and a half months, and all I can do is sit back and reflect with a lot of gratitude,” said BOE President Tammy Molinelli. “We are still all a community, and we are still part of a very beautiful fabric of all different kinds of people.”