Community bids farewell to Gundersen


Emily Moy

The Board of Education held an in-person meeting on Monday night at Pascack Valley and virtually over Zoom. During the meeting, the BOE discussed district Superintendent Gundersen’s resignation.

The Board of Education approved the resignation of district Superintendent Erik Gundersen at Monday night’s BOE meeting held in Pascack Valley’s cafeteria and virtually on Zoom. Gundersen is set to resign effective June 30, 2021.

“I wanted to take a moment to express my appreciation for the years of service that this man has given Pascack Valley,” former PV Business Administrator Pam Baxley said. “It was a privilege to work with him. [He exemplified his] forward thinking, along with his pursuit of excellence, and his ability to assemble a stellar team.” 

BOE President Tammy Molinelli explained that the BOE has discussed the potential of an interim superintendent pending Gundersen’s resignation. 

The BOE accepted PV custodian Jorge Ospino’s resignation effective April 30, 2021. 

“Custodians do more than clean; they represent our buildings when the rest of the staff isn’t here. They’re the eyes throughout the building,” Gundersen said. “They’re truly a part of the fabric here, and Jorge has been part of the fabric for 28 years. He has made me feel very welcome from when I started, and still makes me feel really good when I bump into him from time to time here at PV.”

During the BOE meeting, recently appointed BOE member Debra Stephans was sworn into the Montvale seat of the board. This followed the unanimous vote for Stephans’ election into office during last Monday’s special BOE meeting.

“I would like to congratulate Mrs. Debra Stephans on her appointment to the Board of Education. We look forward to working with you, and it is so nice to see that your family is here to witness you joining the Board of Education,” Gundersen said.

During the meeting, Gundersen discussed end of the year activities with the public, saying that New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy recently announced that capacity limits for various events have been lifted. Also, social distancing protocols will stay a prevalent guideline during senior prom and other senior events. 

“We are pleased to know that we can continue with our planning for these events, and will inform parents and students alike if our plans need to be tweaked,” Gundersen said. 

Business Administrator and Board Secretary Yas Usami presented the PV 2021-22 budget proposal explaining the budget timeline, priorities, curriculum proposals, staffing, and capital projects such as the lecture hall and media center roof replacements, budget expenditures, and resident enrollment.

“The mission of the Pascack Valley Regional High School District is to prepare our students for successful college and/or career experiences with the needed mindset, structures, and knowledge to accomplish that goal,” Usami said.

Soon after Usami’s presentation, the 2021-22 budget was approved following a unanimous vote of eight to zero.

Gundersen brought up the district’s plan to implement full in-person learning, saying that the district plans for students to return to school next year with 100% physical attendance every day. 

While the floor was open to public comments, Director of Technology and Communication Paul Zeller was called upon to discuss the formation of PV’s new panther logo by a community member, saying that once the survey was sent to the PV community and had collected a solid amount of data, the mascot logo committee will talk to a consultant and provide future logo options. 

“The committee will review the results of that survey,” Zeller said. “We will then take that information [and] give it to a designer, who will then give us back several different images [that] we will review as a committee. This committee will make suggestions, comments, design, then go out to the student body.”

Gundersen confirmed that the district hopes to be set on a logo by the end of this school year.