Superintendent's Monthly Newsletter
Parent & Community Edition 2 ~ September 2022
It's a Grand Start to the 2022-2023 School Year
The District has a lot to celebrate at the beginning of the 2022-2023 school year. There may have been gray skies overhead and wet weather on the first two days of school, but there were smiles all around the District.
This year, we are proud to have welcomed over 150 new staff and faculty members to our team. In fact, the majority of our new staff members are our Teachers Assistants, who are no longer outsourced. They are, once again, official members of the Flemington-Raritan Regional School District team.
We also bid farewell to 42 Flemington-Raritan Regional School District employees who either retired or moved on to take other positions. Some buildings welcomed staff and faculty members who moved from one building to another as we had some in-district transfers who transitioned to other grade levels, different schools or took a new position.
We also shared our best wishes with former Robert Hunter Principal, Mrs. Sherri Glaab, and welcomed Mrs. Jessica Braynor as acting principal of Robert Hunter Elementary School. To further support the Robert Hunter School community, it is my pleasure to announce the transfer of a Francis A. Desmares School faculty member to serve as Interim Vice Principal at Robert Hunter School to support Mrs. Braynor.
Mrs. Lindsay Shirvanian has been selected as Robert Hunter School Interim Vice Principal beginning September 14 through December 31. Mrs. Shirvanian is currently a Reading Recovery and Reading Support Teacher at Francis A. Desmares School. She has been teaching in our District for 17 years, initially as a first-grade teacher, then as a reading recovery/student support reading teacher. She also completed an administrative internship at Francis A. Desmares School. Her vast District experience, effective collaboration and leadership skills, and commitment to enhancing parent engagement align with Robert Hunter's mission, school culture and long-standing traditions. She was awarded a JerseyCAN Teacher Leader Policy Fellow last year and was named a 2015-2016 NJ Governor's Educator of the Year recipient. She is certified as a NJ Principal, Sheltered Instruction Trainer of Trainers, a Reading Recovery Instructor and an Elementary School Teacher. She earned a master's degree in educational administration from Drexel University and a bachelor's degree in psychology, with elementary education certification as well, from Moravian College. I anticipate the Board of Education's formal approval of my recommendation at the September 19 Board meeting. I am confident that Mrs. Braynor and Mrs. Shirvanian, together, will continue to support every Robert Hunter student, every day, at every opportunity.
I wish all of our students and families a safe and successful school year.
RFIS' Gym Floor Upgrade
Reading-Fleming Intermediate School has a new gym floor in the upper gymnasium. The gym floor features a beautiful logo in the center highlighting the Reading-Fleming mascot, the Husky!
Mrs. Shirvanian, Robert Hunter Interim VP
"I advocate for high quality and equitable education for each child," says Mrs. Shirvanian. "I hold the social, emotional and physical well-being of children as well as school safety and security as top priorities. My passion drives me to work diligently for all students, families and colleagues every day."
New Teacher Orientation
Here's a snapshot of our New Teacher Orientation Session that was held on August 29 and 30. Our new hires will be formally introduced to the community and recognized by the Board of Education at the September 19 Board meeting at 7 p.m. at J.P. Case Middle School.
RFIS' Gym Floor Upgrade
Mrs. Shirvanian, Robert Hunter Interim VP
District COVID-19 Safety Protocols
Executive Order #302 recognizes the CDC’s updated guidance that school districts and child care settings are equipped with a host of COVID-19 prevention strategies and should use localized data to decide on which mitigation protocol to implement. The CDC also issued updated “Operational Guidance for K-12 Schools and Early Care and Education Programs to Support Safe In-Person Learning” in which the CDC recommends that school districts and child care settings utilize COVID-19 mitigation protocols on a flexible basis.
To continue to proactively surveillance of school-associated COVID-19 cases, clusters, and outbreaks, we will continue to partner with the Department of Health and track COVID-19 in the school setting. We are still required to report information to the Department of Health using the COVID-19 SIC Module. The District continues to advocate for those eligible to be up to date with their COVID-19 vaccinations, including the first booster dose for which they are eligible.
Health protocols for the 2022-2023 school year will be the same as they were at the end of the school year last year, with the exception of mandatory testing for unvaccinated covered workers. Mandated testing for covered workers ended due to Executive Order #302.
As a reminder of safety protocols:
- Students are not excluded from school unless they report to the school that they are positive for COVID-19. The Department of Health continues to recommend that they stay out of school for at least five days from the onset of symptoms (or the date of the test, if asymptomatic), and mask around others for an additional five days after the return to school.
- District schools and buses will continue to be mask optional.
- Individuals who are positive for COVID-19 must stay home five days from the onset of symptoms (or the date of the test, if asymptomatic) and are recommended to mask around others for an additional five days after the return to school.
- No mandatory travel restrictions.
- Physical distancing will be significantly relaxed.
- Reminders about proper hygiene will continue. Hand sanitizer remains in all classrooms and other locations around schools.
- Students and staff who have visible symptoms of illness (fever, nausea, etc.) will be sent home and may not return to school until symptoms reside and will follow the exclude from school symptoms per Board of Education policy (fever free for 24-hours without the use of fever-reducing medicine)
- The District will not contact trace and will not report the weekly number of cases.
The District has plans for Strategic Planning for a new five-year plan to set the goals of the District for the 2023-2028 school years. The Steering Committee led by the New Jersey School Boards Association will develop a detailed strategic plan, establishing the vision, beliefs, mission, goals, and strategies/objectives for the Flemington-Raritan Regional School District.
We are looking for community members that are interested in serving in the strategic planning process to develop the District’s five year goals and examine closely the current mission and vision statement of the District. Our current mission statement is steeped in supporting students and creating a culture. The committee will reflect on the mission and discuss the vision of the future, a system of beliefs, our strengths and opportunities, key factors for planning and decision-making, and roadblocks that may lie ahead of us. We will set goals and strategies to accomplish the goals.
This committee is a great opportunity for those individuals who are interested in learning more about the state of our schools and community. It is also an ideal way for members of the community to get to know the educational community at Flemington-Raritan Regional School District. High school students that attended Flemington-Raritan Regional School District are welcome to apply to join the committee.
On Friday, November 4, 2022 from 6 to 8 PM and Saturday, November 5, 2022 from 9 AM to 3 PM, the District will engage in Strategic Planning. The Board of Education is using the New Jersey School Boards Association to lead the work. If you are interested in participating in this process to volunteer as a representative from our academic community by serving on the Strategic Planning Ad Hoc Committee, please email email@example.com with your interest.
Superintendent's "Talk-a-Latte" Sessions
The Superintendent "Talk-a-Latte" Roundtable discussions for the 2022-2023 school year have been scheduled. The first Superintendent Talk-a-Latte was on Wednesday night at Barley Sheaf. We spoke together about school security and strategic planning.
"Talk-a-Latte" Roundtable discussions are designed to be open-forum conversations with members of the community about issues that are on the minds of Flemington-Raritan residents. Discussion items evolve with the interests of the members of the group with a bit of time devoted to information I planned to share with those who attend. Refreshments are always available; usually coffee, tea and a delicious dessert provided by our food services provider, Maschio’s Food Services.
At the Talk-a-Latte session held at Barley Sheaf, special guests were invited to share information about the District’s safety and security protocols. Members of the District’s Safety and Security Specialists were present as was a member of the District’s Class III Officer team. Our Director of Educational Facilities, Mr. Todd Amiet, was also present. There were 13 community members present. We talked together about the following topics:
- Class III Officers
- Fire drills and security drills
- Threat assessment teams
- Standards-Based Report Cards
- Field Trips
TRANSPORTATION CHALLENGES DUE TO DRIVER SHORTAGES
Our Transportation Department continues to be affected by the national bus driver shortages. The Hunterdon Central and Flemington-Raritan school districts share ownership of the school buses. We are grateful for our bus drivers!
If you are interested in being a bus driver for the school district please contact the Hunterdon Central Regional School District. The ideal candidate wants to be part of an educational community and holds a valid NJ Driver’s License in good standing. The person must be able to pass a physical and criminal history background check. The position pays from $22.65/hour to $28/hour, plus benefits. CDL training is available for those who qualify. Morning and afternoon routes are available, approximately 6-9 AM and 2-4 PM. Interested candidates must apply online at https://www.applitrack.com/hunterdon/onlineapp/ or call (908)284-7154.
Additionally, we need bus monitors (i.e., transportation aides) that ride the bus with students in the morning and in the afternoon, approximately 7:15-8:45 AM and 2:45-4 PM. We have students that must have an adult on the bus with them because they ride in a car seat. In an emergency, like an accident, an adult other than the bus driver would be needed to unbuckle the student from their car seat. Other times an adult is needed on the school bus because a student has an individual need for an adult on the bus. If you are interested in being a bus monitor, click here.
Due to the driver shortages, some days we are experiencing slower than normal transportation times. Even more significant, other times bus drivers are not available for a specific route. When a driver, nor a substitute driver, is available routes may be substantially delayed. A substantial delay may be as much as a half-hour to an hour delay in a child's pick-up time because bus drivers would drive their usual route, deliver students to school, and then go back for a second route to pick up another group of students. In this situation, parents will receive a phone call around 6:15 in the morning notifying them of the situation and to expect a late bus.
If you have any questions or are interested in being a bus monitor, please let us know! Thank you for your patience as we work to fill positions in the District to support every student, every day, every opportunity.
We're Hiring! Positions Available Now
The District is actively recruiting for multiple positions that are available for immediate hire. The District needs teachers assistants and bus monitors.
IMPORTANT UPCOMING DATES TO REMEMBER
September 21: Early Dismissal, Grades 5 & 6 only – RFIS Back-to-School Night
September 26: School Closed - Rosh Hashanah
September 29: Early Dismissal, Pre-K-Grade 4 only – Elementary Schools' Back-to-School Night
October 5: School Closed – Yom Kippur