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Verona BOE Discusses Grades, Graduation Venue

Proposal would change requirements for course passing grades.


Students who fail to receive a passing grade for a course in three of the six marking periods throughout the school year could be required to repeat the course under a proposed policy discussed by the Verona Board of Education Tuesday night.

Students currently receive six grades during the school year — one for each of the four marking periods, one midterm grade and one final grade.

 “Today, without such a policy a student could fail the first marking period, second period and midterm but do real well on the third marking period, fourth marking periods and final and get a passing grade for the course,” said Board President John Quattrocchi.

“The reason the policy is being considered is that although you get a passing grade, you probably have not mastered the content of that course and therefore pose a risk to future courses," he said.

The district currently does not have a policy to propose, but will evaluate whether the policy is appropriate for Verona, he added.

The board also discussed the recent discovery of a sinkhole on the high school football field.

Last week a sinkhole with some sort of metal shaft opened up during a football practice, said board member Glenn Elliott. The field was closed because of health and safety issues, he said. 

“To the far side of the field on the visitor’s side we have always had issues with sinkholes and drainage,” said Quattrocchi. “Last week what was uncovered was a manmade shaft, three feet in diameter, that goes down 15 feet into an underground structure. We don't know what's down there or its purpose.”

The board plans to look into old county records to identify what used to be in that area as well as using a non-invasive ground-penetrating radar to identify and fix underground anomalies. 

The board also discussed changing the site of Verona High School and the middle school graduations to Caldwell College.

Weather has played a big part in this decision, said Superintendent Steven Forte.

Rain brought the 2011 graduation inside the gym, but board members said the building was unbearably humid for guests, 100 of whom were without a seat.

The 2012 graduation ceremony was performed in 95-degree heat on the football field.

“We had to make our hour and a half graduation only one hour,” Forte said. “We feel that is not doing the ceremony justice.”

He said, “It's on a college campus so that promotes the college experience, it seats 2,500 people and has proper parking and air conditioning. Its a very nice venue to hold our festivities.”

During the public portion of the meeting, some residents, like Verona resident Marie Hardenberg, voiced concerns about moving the graduation.

“As a parent of a child who is graduating in June, I am very disappointed,” she told the board. “I understand the weather thing and that it gets too hot but you are taking kids away from a school they went to for four years to celebrate their graduation.” 

Hardenberg also had an issue with transportation to and from the venue.

She said she had concerns about excited graduates speeding up and down Bloomfield Avenue after the ceremony.

As a solution, she suggested the district provide buses to and from graduation, an idea Forte agreed was a good one.

In other news, the board also:

  • Changed the half-day scheduled for May 17 to May 23.
  • Discussed working with the YMCA to enhance their aftercare program.
  • Discussed buying or renting a new or used vehicle for the marching band.
  • Discussed a proposal for regulations on field trips — specifically addressing the school's responsibility for trips, the responsibilities for chaperones, and assessing the educational validity of each field trip.
  • Discussed Forte's five Merit Goals to be voted on by the board at a future meeting. The Christie administration imposed Merit Goals as a new part of a superintendent's contract, said Forte.
    The goals must be presented to the board of education as well as the county superintendent.
    Forte's listed his goals as (1) during the upcoming school year, the district will see an increase in $75,000 in revenue from new sources or programs, (2) There will be a 0% increase in administrative costs from 2012-2013 to 2013-2014, (3) to implement two new sharing programs with local agencies, (4) to implement a new five-year strategic plan and to give high school students the option to earn college credits.
  • Heard a request from Verona Environmental Commission Chairman Gerard Shimonaski for posted signs around the high school to remind drivers not to let their cars idle. The board will consider posting the signs at the school to remain consistent throughout the district. The high school would be the last in the district to receive no-idling signs.

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