Eight uniquely decorated scarecrows were propped up behind Voorhees board of education members at their Oct. 27 meeting, part of a contest between the middle and elementary schools and the administrative building .
But there were larger issues at the meeting, including updated curriculums for health and physical education and expected vaccinations for students.
The meeting began with the board recognizing and thanking Regina Borreggine, an instructional associate and former PTA president; Tim Hassal, an eighth grade language arts teacher at Voorhees Middle School; and Jill Locke, secretary at Osage Elementary, for their work in the district over the past 25 years.
During the superintendent’s report, Acting Superintendent Michael Redfearn reported that in preparation for FDA approval of COVID vaccines for children ages 5 to 11, the district has partnered with Adler’s Pharmacy to create a tentative schedule for shots.
“We have quite an aggressive plan, but if it works and everything works out the way we hope, the students who are eligible and the parents wishing to vaccinate their child 5 and up would be fully vaccinated by winter break,” Redfearn said.
In policy updates, the board introduced a sexual harassment policy on first reading that protects students from sexual harassment from employees, other students and third parties. It defines two situations specifically: quid pro quo, when an employee uses their position to sexually harass students; and “hostile environment,” where the environment is created because of sexual harassment.
The policy further explains what actions constitute sexual harassment. It is available to read online at https://www.voorhees.k12.nj.us/Page/75790.
The board also voted 8 to 1 to approve several other policies, including a comprehensive health- and physical-education policy. Dawn Wallace, who voted no on the policy, explained her decision.
“I think for K-8, some of these should be dealt with by parents and doctors and psychiatrists, and not the school,” she said. “Some of it I don’t think pertains to health and physical education.”
The health and phys ed policy includes violence prevention; cancer awareness; suicide prevention; financial literacy; sexual assault and abuse awareness; and the addition of African American accomplishments to the curriculum, among other topics.
During board comments, members reflected on the public comment portion of the meeting.
“This is not the venue for a campaign,” board member Dawn Wallace said. “We’re all up here because we care about the kids. We all have jobs, we all have families, we’re doing our best. Everybody has to come together.”
Following the meeting, the board announced via Facebook that the Osage figure bearing Principal Robert Cranmer’s face and a flannel jacket won the scarecrow contest.
There will be a special board meeting on Nov. 15 at 7 p.m. to discuss the superintendent search. The next regular session will be on Wednesday, Nov. 29, at 7:30 p.m.