LETTER: Guttenberg 7th and 8th graders will continue to go to school here

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In a letter to the editor, Guttenberg Board of Education President William Hokien says that 7th and 8th graders in the school district will continue to attend Ana L. Klein Elementary School. William Hokien

Dear Editor,

While I’m sure my colleagues share many of the same sentiments, I am writing to you as an individual, not as the school board president spokesperson.

I would first like to take a moment to thank our current school board members for their continued commitment to the education and well being of our young people, the excellence of our schools, and for striving ever to meet the high expectations we have of our school board and educators.

Working together, we have made immense progress over the past year, and I look forward to building on the successes we have earned thus far. None of this would be possible without Guttenberg’s high-caliber, experienced and dedicated teachers.

Our teachers are highly educated to recognize and acknowledge multiple learning differences. They are proficient in combining hi-tech and low-tech solutions to encourage individual academic and social success.

However, even with the great momentum our board has built we still need your help.

We have continued our efforts over the past year to ensure that we to listen to the many voices in our community, and to foster a supportive environment to navigate our student’s educational success.

Over the past few months, we have seen and heard from many of our neighbors concerned about the future of our 7th and 8th graders.

These concerns began due to statements and made by individuals not representative of this board, and grew due to a lack of clear communication on the process with which the board handles these kinds of matters.

Let me be clear, our duty is first and foremost to our children and the Future of Anna L. Klein and the district. Every consideration undertaken by this board is in the interest of our children.

In the Fall of 2016, individual member of our Anna L. Klein Staff and our Superintendent had an informal discussion about a possible partnership with North Bergen with regards to our 7th and 8th grade students attending the planned North Bergen Junior High School.

The board took no action, and the discussion was tabled until earlier this year. While I along with other members of the board were opposed to such action from the start, acting on personal feelings without gathering facts is not the way a school board should operate.

Thus, I formed a committee to perform due diligence on what such a partnership would mean, and the ways in which it could benefit, or undermine our commitment to better serve our students.

This committee had a singular task: fact finding. It was in no way a negotiations committee, nor did it indicate the board taking a position on this matter.

After the wonderful outpouring of feedback from our community I made the decision to disband the committee and to refocus our efforts and resources on continuing to work on the boards current ambitious and promising agenda.

I am inspired by the passion displayed by our community, and pledge to work towards continuing to foster community involvement, communication, and transparency with our school board.

As always, I welcome your feedback, and I am pleased to have you at our meetings to discuss your concerns. I look forward to continuing to work with our board and community at large to serve the Future of Anna L. Klein and it’s district.

Sincerely,

William Hokien, President of the Board of Education
ANNA L. KLEIN SCHOOL
Guttenberg School District
A Great Place to Work and Learn