LETTER: It was an honor to serve as West New York BOE president, Rodas says

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In a letter to the editor, former West New York Board of Education President Steven Rodas expressed his thanks for chairing the board in 2015, explaining that a new course curriculum and family matters factored in him not seeking another term. Steven Rodas

Dear Editor,

I would like to thank my fellow board members for all their support throughout my term as President. Being President comes with a lot of time, effort, energy and sacrifices that presently would not be the best decision for my family and I.

My pronouncement comes with my decision to pursue my MBA degree as well as attend to some personal matters family. Family comes first and it is time for me to devote my time to my mother’s health problems and other family issues.

It is my personal opinion that the chair of the board should be shared amongst board members on a yearly basis to provide for alternative perspectives and give every board member an opportunity to sit as chair.

This is a common practice done by many boards such as our county freeholders and other school districts. I strongly believe that we should continue to rotate our officers and potentially add this to our board officer policy.

Throughout my tenure as President I am fulfilled to have been able to support our staff and our board in concluding the following accomplishments:

1) The hiring of our new Superintendent of Schools and first female Hispanic Superintendent of our School District.

2) The hiring of our new Business Administrator and our school district’s first African American, Harvard Business Graduate BA.

3) As well as having one our biggest assets, someone who has been a part of our school district for over 15 years, our Assistant BA Jack Steffens stay for one more year.

4) The approval of the International Rotary Student Exchange Program in which we were able to send one of our students to Japan and in exchange received a student from Spain.

Policy Changes/Updates

1) Updating our school policies to implement having a Spanish-speaking interpreter at every board meeting.

2) Adding committees to our board to oversee specific board responsibilities and functions.

3) I will be urging our new board to change the current format of our meetings to allow the public comments portion of our meeting to be towards the beginning of our meeting vs. the end.

This will accommodate the students, parents, community members, and staff that want to voice their concerns and opinions at our board meetings.

Having the audience wait many hours for us to come out of executive session is not conducive to those in attendance. This has caused the attendance to dwindle more and more at every meeting.

As board members elected by the people for the people we must remember that it is our responsibility to listen to our people.

In our schools website it clearly states: “the fourth duty of the Board is to act as a communication link between residents of the Town of West New York and the School District.”

It also states “The West New York Board of Education welcomes residents to communicate their concerns to the Board by letter, phone call, or a statement under the “public portion” of one of the Board’s meetings.”

By having the public portion of our meetings towards the end, we are steering away from our mission and it is curtailing public involvement.

Construction/Facilities 


1) The approval of SDA funded science labs (6 rooms) in Memorial High School. This project was stalled for two years. The finalizing construction date is expected to be sometime in 2016.

1a) The SDA funded the Harry L. Bain renovation as well as the protection of masonry wall from water intrusion. This is ongoing to address all health and safety issues.

2) We completed the installation and upgrade of Fire Alarm systems at four of our schools.

3) We completed our long-range 5-year facilities plan that has been approved by the Department of Education.

4) We have identified our next projects

A) Track and field / turf repair and renew

B) Fire alarms at PS1

C) Air conditioning / ventilation

Negotiations

1) Administrators concluded

2) Teachers Union and Supervisors contract negotiations close to concluding.

Other

1) Implementing energy efficiency initiatives

2) Participating in free care pilot program with the state (under the existing Special Ed. Medicaid initiative (SEMI)). These are SPECIAL SERVICES to determine if this program will be a cost benefit to our district and increase overall Medicaid reimbursements, and expand current SEMI services to other students)

3) NJSBAIG (NJ School Boards Association Insurance Group) awarded $17,000 to our school district for physical, safety related improvements in schools.

I thank my gallant board members and supporters who have given me this last proof of regard and confidence, with warmth of gratitude to which no words can render justice.

I am blessed, humbled, and privileged to have been able to serve as president alongside such wonderful teachers, administrators, supervisors, custodians, central office staff and administration.

With that being said, I am pleased to able to rest my head at night knowing that with each decision that has been made, I have always kept the well being of our students, their parents, and our staff in mind.

I firmly believe it is time to pass the baton on to fellow board member Adam Parkinson to continue to carry out our mission.

It was about this time last year when I nominated Adam Parkinson to be my Vice President and now to being able to nominate him for President is an honor. Adam Parkinson is a bright young guy with a big future ahead of him.

Growing up in an urban community, I firmly believe I would not be where I am today if it wasn’t for the educators who played an important role in my life. I look forward to continuing to serve and work with all trustees, our school district staff, and our wonderful West New York community throughout the New Year.

I love this school district, our beautiful town of West New York and Go Tigers!!

Steven Rodas

Board Trustee

Disclaimer: These opinions are solely my own and are not the opinions of the West New York Board of Education, its Trustees or any employees or contractors.