The school district is starting the year fully staffed as of the latest Shamong Board of Education meeting.
With the board approvals of two resignations and two hires at its Aug. 13 meeting, the district will start the 2019-2020 school year with a full staff, according to Superintendent Christine Vespe.
“We’re very happy about our hires this year and looking forward to them joining our team here in Shamong,” said Vespe.
The board approved the resignations of Indian Mills Memorial School media specialist Anastasia Hanneken and language arts teacher Salvatore Petetti, whose notices were given in July. Hanneken has the option to stay until Sept. 20 and Petetti Sept. 5.
Seconds later, the board approved the appointments of Indian Mills Memorial School teachers to replace the resignations. Amanda Vogelei was hired as media specialist effective Oct. 7, or sooner, through June 30, 2020. Angela Beaton was approved as a language arts teacher for the 2019-2020 school year.
In other news, Vespe announced to the board that she sent letters home to the parents and families of students who have fallen under what is called “chronic absenteeism,” which exceeds 18 days or 10 percent of 180 required school days.
Once a student reaches 18 days, the state records each of those days as unexcused absences even though the district’s policy excuses its students if they have a sick note.
According to Vespe, the district is allowed to record excused absences, but the state does not. She stated that there are quite a few students under chronic absenteeism in the district, although she is aware that a few of them have illnesses. She also shared with the board the effects of anxiety and school phobia, is a form of severe anxiety associated with going to school.
“If there is an issue, let’s start young before they get to high school. School phobia is a real thing. Anxiety is a real thing. So let us work with the kids,” said Vespe.
The letter included information on social agencies that are available for assistance, municipal court charges that could transpire and state resources for both the students and parents.
According to her, the district currently has one court charge for chronic absenteeism.
“If you’re over 18 days, it leads us to believe maybe something is going on that we need to help or address,” continued Vespe.
“We can’t teach and we can’t educate children if they’re not here for us to do that,” said Vespe.
Vespe also announced that a new and revised student handbook is done and ready for publication. There will be a clean copy that goes home to parents at the beginning of the school year, according to her, and homeroom teachers will be required to read it to students sometime in the beginning of the year.
The next BOE meeting is scheduled for Sept. 17 at 7 p.m. at Indian Mills Memorial School.