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Tuesday, June 25, 2024

Blairstown School Board: More Improvements on the Horizon

The Blairstown Elementary School entrance on Suset Hill Rd. Photo by C. Tamulonis 9/2023

The Blairstown Elementary School Board of Education braved a severe
thunderstorm on September 7 to have their regular monthly meeting at 7:00 p.m. in
the school library.

Three members of the public attended, and the meeting was called to order by board president Jeremy Cook.

Superintendent Patrick Ketch gave updates on facilities and grants. Facility
updates include plans to resurface the gym roof in October, with “little to no
disruption” to the school’s daily activities; and the choosing of a new elevator design with plans to start that project as soon as possible.

Two New Jersey Department of Education (NJDOE) grant were approved by the board for submission for the 2023-2024 school year:

  • A 38,000 NJ Learning Acceleration Program: High Impact Tutoring Grant to fund intensive tutoring for third and fourth grade students; and,

  • A NJDOE Stabilization Aid Grant in the amount of $293,800.

Potential High Impact Tutoring students will be assessed through Response to Intervention (RTI) for eligibility. Tutoring will take place during school hours.

    The Stabilization Aid grant was a response by Governor Phil Murphy to help 42
    school districts that are experiencing reductions in state aid.

    Principal Colleen Silvestri updated the board on staff development, reporting
    that BES teaching staff underwent successful “Mindset and Teamwork” training with Tom Cody and paraprofessionals underwent “Social Strides” training.

    Using applied behavioral analysis, Social Strides training is specifically geared to give aides the tools they need to diffuse behavioral issues in a productive way.

    In old business, the school was awarded a “Security Grant” which will be used
    to add to security measures already in place throughout the school under
    “Alyssa’s Law”.

    This law, signed into action by Gov. Murphy in 2019, requires all New Jersey public schools to install silent panic alarms to alert law enforcement during emergencies. The law is in memory of Alyssa Alhadeff, a New Jersey native from Woodcliff Lake who was among the 17 people that were killed in the Parkland, Florida shooting in 2018.

    Board member Karen Klein gave an update on the legislative movement of
    the state which included:

    • Bill A5329 extending the useful service life of certain school buses to 20 years and provides a temporary one-year extension of service life for Type S school buses;
    • Bill S3950 which establishes an exemption from state school aid reductions for certain school districts; and,
    • Bill S1221 that establishes a program to reimburse school districts for providing menstrual products in certain public schools for 6th to 12th grade students.

    In addition to the approval of regular personnel, facility and finance resolutions, the board accepted a donation of $100 for classroom supplies from Henry Ickes and approved the “second and final reading of policies” for staff which included policies on sick leave, teacher attendance, and support staff attendance.

    The BOE usually meets on the third Thursday of every month in the school library.

    The Blairstown Elementary School building. Photo by C. Tamulonis 9/2023

    For Blairstown Elementary School BOE information please use this link:

    Cybele Tamulonis
    Cybele Tamulonis, Contributing Writer

    Cybele is a writer and editor with more than 16 years in the publishing industry. An avid reader, you can usually find her with the latest new book release from the local library. She currently resides on a farm in Hardwick with her husband and four children. In her spare time, she writes historical fiction specific to New Jersey.