Board of Education Selected Agenda Highlights

Posted by Dr. Nagy on 5/27/2022

Before Dr. Nagy started to address the agenda items last evening at the monthly Board of Education meeting, he asked if all present would take a moment of silence to remember the families affected and the fallen children, victims of a senseless school shooting this week that took place at the Robb Elementary School in Texas. After a brief pause, he thanked all in attendance.

Dr. Nagy noted that this is a stark reminder of the importance of staying vigilant.  In the wake of this tragedy Dr. Nagy noted that proactive steps are being taken on campuses to ensure the safety and security of students, teachers, and school personnel. The New Jersey Office of Attorney General's Office issued guidance to increase law enforcement presence at schools throughout the state, effectively immediately.

We have spoken to the security officers at our various schools and advised them to remain vigilant and increase our perimeter checks of the schools. We have tight protocols at our entrances and perimeter doors are constantly checked. All visitors are to come through the main office and go through the screening process. Both security and administrators are trained in emergency protocols. 

Communication between school administrators, school resource officers, and security is highly important. All staff members are reminded to report anything considered unusual or suspicious and if they are unsure, always err on the side of caution and report it. In emergency situations any staff member can dial 911 immediately. Also, we have the Bluepoint panic alarms in the schools which contact the local police department immediately in the event of an active shooter or a similar emergency situation. 

Dr. Nagy also noted that each building conducts required drills monthly and hope that we may never have to utilize those protocols in the future. 

Dr. Nagy thanked our security team under the leadership of Director of Security, Veldon Harris, our administration, dedicated staff and our parents for this combined effort to support the safety and security of our students and staff.  

There were two presentations made at the Board meeting.  Dr. Nagy was pleased to welcome Dr. Leonetti this evening who after 27 years of service to both BCIT and BCSSSD as the District Physician, announced her retirement effective the end of June. Dr. Leonetti received a certificate of commendation as a token of the Board and District’s appreciation for efforts from Dr. Leonetti to keep our students, staff and district safe and particularly through this pandemic. Dr. Nagy acknowledged how closely she worked with our nurses and administrators who are also grateful to her.

The second presentation honored two individuals who went over and beyond among our security personnel.  Dr. Nagy noted how fitting it was at the BoE meeting, with the assistance of the Director of Security, Veldon Harris that two school security officers be honored in the shadow of recent tragedies.  Sherman Boyd was honored as the Security Officer of the Year and who works on the Lumberton Campus. Terrence Graves was honored as the Security Lead Officer of the Year and is on the BCIT Medford Campus. We are grateful to them for their example, service and role models they play on their respective campuses to keep us safe and the environment orderly.

The Board approved the notification of retirements from a number of staff. Dr. Nagy noted as well as Board of Education President Leon Jones that we cannot thank our staff enough for their dedication, years of service and positive impact they have had on our students, colleagues and the district.  May they enjoy their well-deserved retirement.

On the Board agenda, the Board approved a number of appointments pertaining to new hires for retirements and resignations as well as staffing for our summer programs and co-curricular and athletic activities for next year. The Board also approved a number of submissions for Statement of Assurances required by the NJDOE.

Dr. Nagy noted that he was grateful to the Board and administration and staff who have participated in the formulation of the goals for the next school year and for feedback on Board and Superintendent evaluations.

Dr. Nagy also noted that he was pleased to report our successful efforts realized in our improved scores for the District and School Grade Report under the Anti-bullying Bill of Rights.

There were three items that were tabled prior to the final approval of the superintendent’s agenda pertaining to an employee and the SFEA calendar for next year

After the Board took action, Dr. Nagy provided the following statement prior to the public comment pertaining to non-agenda items. The following was the statement he read:

People have signed up to speak about our imposition of the mask requirement. Rest assured everyone will have the opportunity to comment. In this connection, we request and will require compliance with our District Civility Policy # 9160.1, namely that we treat one another with respect and to be civil to one another as we look at addressing the order of business at the meeting tonight. If for some reason this may be a challenge, the individual (s) will be directed to leave school district property.  Thank you.

Prior to opening for public comment, I believe it would be helpful if I provided a brief account of what we have done and why.

As many of you are aware there has been a recent spike in COVID cases across the State such that all Counties including Burlington have been elevated to Orange status. With regard to our school district we recently experienced an outbreak of cases at both our Transition School at the Westampton campus of the Burlington County Special Services School District and at Medford Tech. In the case of Medford Tech., the outbreak followed closely on the heels of the School Prom which took place on May 13th. As of last week, the number of students at Medford Tech who had tested positive had reached 40.

Alarmed by the increasing cases at Transition and BCIT Medford, we consulted with the Burlington County Department of Health and were advised that we should institute a mask requirement at both schools. In accordance with our statutory duty to responsibly address communicable disease issues and in accordance with our related school policy we instituted the mask requirement at both schools. In the case of BCIT Medford parents were informed on 5/20 a mask requirement for students would be effective for the week of 5/23 with the hope that numbers would decrease during the week such that the requirement could be lifted after the Memorial Day holiday weekend.

The mask requirement was implemented at both schools. No opposition or complaints have emanated from Transitions. However, at BCIT Medford a very small number of students – less than 14 out of a school population of over 800 have balked at the mask requirement.

For the safety of our staff and cooperating students, the small number of students who have refused to wear masks at BCIT Medford have been removed from their classrooms and placed in a dedicated room where they have been provided a link to live classroom instruction. In addition, for those in this group and those compliant with the mask requirement who need CTE enrichment sessions, such sessions will be made available. Accordingly, no student, whether compliant or non-compliant with the mask requirement need miss a beat with their educational program. Our commitment to a thorough and efficient education in accordance with the N.J. Constitution for all our students has been and will continue to be met.

In addition, I am pleased to report that at BCIT Medford, the number of reported cases now stands at 31 as of yesterday – down from 40. We will monitor the results again tomorrow and make a determination at the end of the day as to the lifting of the mask requirement and returning to mask optional status.

In conclusion, I wish to emphasize that the steps we have taken, have not been taken lightly. Rather, the mask requirement was not done across the Board – but only at our two schools suffering serious outbreaks, only for a limited duration, and only at the advice of the Department of Health. Please also know, we are not an outlier District in instituting these measures. Dozens of public schools across the State, including several in Burlington County have taken similar action. In fact, at least one large District has never lifted the mask mandate initially imposed on all Districts by our Governor. Finally, rest assured we will continue to take all steps necessary to fulfill our mission and mandate of providing a thorough and efficient education for all of our students while also protecting the health and safety of all our students and staff.

The following are highlights of the activities on BCIT campuses during the Month of May:

  • At the beginning of the Week on the BCIT West Campus we had a number of legislators who participated in a celebration of CTE and enjoyed a tour of the building to see in person our State of the Art programs and innovations in person.  At the ceremony, Senator Singleton was honored for his commitment to BCIT and to career and technical education as a valuable partner to create skilled workers and stackable credentialing to allow graduates to be ahead of the curve.
  • BCIT's very own, Randy Yarnell Saldaña, has been named as the 2021 TREK All-Star Student Athlete!! The All-Star Student Athlete Award recognizes student-athletes for their outstanding competitive achievements and potential for future success in competitive cycling. We are quite proud of this young man!
  • BCIT graduate, Alex Maya-Romero, has committed to a PHD program! Alex has decided to attend UC Berkeley after much consideration and acceptance into the following schools: Harvard Program in neuroscience,,Harvard Biomedical and Biological sciences, Yale Biomedical and Biological Sciences, Weill Cornell Neuroscience, University of North Carolina, University of Penn Neuroscience & UC San Francisco. Simply Amazing!
  • Two freshman BCIT Medford Academy of Performing Arts vocal music majors auditioned for-- and were accepted into All State Treble Chorus!! This chorus will perform at NJPAC in Newark in February, 2023. We can't wait to see them showcase their talents.
  • Both the Medford and Westampton campuses celebrated the time-honored ritual of Prom; a night filled with formal wear, great food and dancing. What a wonderful memory for all in attendance.
  • The APA held the Dance Showcase and Music Concert to highlight the incredible talents of the students in their respective career pathway. The audiences were mesmerized by the varied abilities with a special flair for performing. Nicely done!
  • BCIT Adult Education hosted a group of 17 students from Lenape High School to tour the BCIT facilities and learn more about the adult education division. This was the first time we hosted high school students from another school as prospective adult learners.
  • Six of our BCIT Culinary students participated in the Cook-Off Challenge on May 6th at the 71st NJAC Annual conference. BCIT is the 2022 Winner of the Silver Chefs Award for food presentation. Great job students and Chefs!
  • School Community groups came together at WesTech on May 24th to host a Culture Connects Workshop event that supports student voice and leadership. What a great opportunity for our students to lead! ● Ad Art III WesTech student, Jeremy Henskens and his family received a personal phone call from our Congressman, Andy Kim, to let Jeremy know that he won the 2022 Congressional Art Competition for our District! Jeremy's artwork, along with high school winners from all over the country, will be on display at the United States Capitol building for a year. All the winners will be honored in Washington, D.C.