District approves interim superintendent for 2021-22 school year


Matt Austin

The Board of Education approved Daniel Fishbein as the interim district Superintendent during Monday night’s BOE meeting held in the Pascack Valley Cafeteria and virtually on Zoom. The BOE also recognized a few individuals for their work in the district this past year.

At the recommendation of district Superintendent Erik Gundersen, the Board of Education approved Daniel Fishbein as interim Superintendent of Schools for the 2021-2022 year during Monday night’s BOE meeting held in Pascack Valley’s cafeteria virtually over Zoom.

“I’m thrilled to note that Dr. Fishbein is going to be stepping in after I depart,” Gundersen said. “I have a tremendous amount of confidence that he’s going to continue to carry on the excellent programming, and the great things that we do for kids. Congratulations to Dr. Fishbein.”

During Monday night’s meeting, the BOE recognized a select few PVRHSD community members. 

BOE president Tammy Molinelli and Gundersen said their parting words to Pascack Hills and PV Student Representatives Aria Chalileh and Conner Flinn during the meeting.

I can’t tell you how much I’ve just appreciated your sense of humor and your resiliency and just being on this ride with us for the last year,” BOE president Tammy Molinelli said.

The board recognized the multiple retiring faculty members at PV including Glenn deMarrais, Erik Gundersen, Jorge Ospino, John Rainey, and Jane Rodes. The board also announced the winner of the 2020-2021 Outstanding Support Staff Member award, which was given to Information Technology Specialist Jaime Budakian.

“Jamie went to extraordinary lengths not only this year but last year as well when we had to shift to remote learning,” Gundersen said. “Whenever there was a technical issue, he stopped everything that he was doing to make sure that students would continue to learn [while on virtual schedule].” 

The BOE also recognized PV 2020-2021 Teacher of the Year William Rawson in his work as an English and journalism teacher, and PV Student Publication advisor.

“[Bill Rawson] is an exceptional English teacher and he has grown what previously was The Smoke Signal into an almost live news event organization that really is a machine here at Pascack Valley High School,” Gundersen said. “So, Mr. Rawson, thank you for your efforts in getting news out for PV, but most importantly for the impact that you’re making on our future journalists.”

PV School Counselor Mary Jo Callanan was recognized as the 2020-2021 Educational Services Professional of the Year for PV.

“We are so proud and thankful that [Callahan] is such a valued member of our school counseling team,” Gundersen said. “Miss Callahan really gets to know her students and the families that she works with on a really intimate level and builds some really good relationships with students.” 

During the BOE meeting, Assistant Superintendent Barry Bachenheimer spoke on the district’s reopening plan for the 2021-2022 school year. Bachenheimer brought up next year’s requirements on masks, social distancing, cohorts, sanitation, and contact tracing.

Bachenheimer said that the intention for the 2021-2022 school year is that cohorts will be eliminated allowing all students to attend full days of the school including lunch.

“[When thinking about how to schedule lunch], option one is the group unit lunch, as we’ve been doing in the past, option two would be a split lunch [where] half the students would eat at [a time]. Half the students would eat at another time, a lot of that’ll depend on what state guidelines look like,” Bachenheimer said. “I don’t have a firm answer right now [on how lunch will be handled], but the ultimate concern is going to be, can we do so in a safe and efficient manner and in a way that all students get fed while sitting where they need to.”

Answering BOE member Michael Weaver’s question, Gundersen said that the PH and PV logo committees are getting ready to make their final recommendations for their respective school’s new logos.

“The designer has shared three draft designs with the key to the representative committees, and they are looking for feedback from the committee members,” Gundersen said. “I believe their meeting is scheduled for this week to have those discussions. So, we’re making progress.”