Information From our Superintendent Mr. Rogers
March 24, 2023
Dear Vernon School Community,
As you know from previous correspondences and discussions at recent board meetings, Vernon is in a budget shortfall, losing $8.5 million in annual state aid over the past six years and over $6 million in grants and stabilization aid. This eventuated us to make very difficult decisions about our programs and overall instruction. Unfortunately, one of those decisions impacted many of our district faculty and staff members. Regretfully, we are writing to let you know that we spoke with many faculty and staff members yesterday to let them know they will not be with us for the 23-24 school year. Please note that affected faculty and staff will continue to work for the rest of the 22-23 school year. Below are the many questions that we have received from the community. We want to provide as many answers as possible.
Why weren’t parents notified first?
To show respect and dignity to faculty and staff who will no longer be with us at the close of the current school year, we needed to let the affected staff know first. An email was sent out before last week’s board of education meeting to inform the faculty and staff that if their employment status was affected by the cuts, they would be informed later the following week. At the March 16th board meeting, discussions occurred concerning our significant reduction in state aid and increased operating costs. As a result, we discussed that we would have to reduce staff and make reductions in all operational areas across the district. For details on the budget and state aid reductions, the March 16th board meeting can be viewed on the link above or at vtsd.com. Click on the Board of Education tab, and click on BOE Video Archive.
Why were teachers spoken to during school hours?
We understand how difficult this is for teachers and students; however, this had to take place during the teacher’s contracted school hours. Substitute teachers were in place to cover teachers’ classes if they could not return to their classrooms. Our goal was to ensure all staff members were notified on the same day if possible and began meeting with teachers at 7:00 AM, ending at 3:45 PM. We chose to begin on Thursday because we were uncertain if we could reach out to everyone during one day and wanted everyone to know before the weekend.
Why aren’t administrators being let go?
Faculty and staff cuts were made across all certified and non-certified areas, which include administrators, teachers, support staff, aides, secretarial staff, and custodial staff.
Are other staff or programs being cut?
Details regarding the overall 23-24 budget will be discussed at future board of education meetings. Our next Work Session meeting will be on Thursday, April 20, 2023, at 7:00 pm, at Lounsberry Hollow School, and our next Public Session will be on Thursday, April 27, 2023, at 7:00 pm, at Lounsberry Hollow School.
Thank you for your continued understanding during these difficult times in the Vernon Township School District.
VTHS Presents: The Musical Comedy Whodunit Curtains
The March 10th performance of Vernon Township High School’s Spring Musical “CURTAINS” is postponed and will be rescheduled to tomorrow, Saturday, 3/11 @ 2:00pm. We apologize for any inconvenience. Please reach out to Christina Murolo with any ticket questions.
Genesis Parent Portal Update
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new parent portal 2023
2-15 BOE Meeting Change
P U B L I C N O T I C E
VERNON TOWNSHIP BOARD OF EDUCATION
PUBLIC MEETING – CHANGE IN TIME
The Thursday, February 16, 2023 Public Meeting will now start at 5:30 p.m. for Executive Session and 6:00 p.m. for Public Session. The meeting will take place at Lounsberry Hollow School Library, 30 Sammis Road, Vernon, New Jersey. Action shall be taken.
Business Administrator/Board Secretary
Open Board Seats
Open Board of Education Seats (2)
February 10, 2023
Board of Education – School News
Two seats have become available on our Board of Education for terms ending 12/31/2023. Interested applicants should contact the Business Administrator, Patricia Ratcliffe-Lee and the Board President, Kelly Mitchell by Wednesday, February 15th. Applicants must attend the interview at the Public Session Meeting on Thursday, February 16th at 6:00 p.m.
Please send your letter of interest and resume to:
Patricia Ratcliffe-Lee – email@example.com (O) 973-764-4186
Kelly Mitchell – firstname.lastname@example.org
School Board Appreciation Month and VTSD Student Achievements
Dear Vernon School Community,
This month NJ public schools celebrate Board Appreciation Month. This is a time when we pause and thank our Board of Education members for serving our schools and students. Board of Education members set the policies for our schools and make important decisions affecting curriculum, financing, and staffing. Our Board of Education is made of nine members and one Vernon Township High School Senior. Meet our Board members…
Kelly Mitchell- Board President
Justin Annunziata- Board Vice President
Theresa Scura Coughlin
Colin Giesen- VTHS Student Representative
This month we also celebrate the young readers of our district that participated in the Mind Travelers Program. The Mind Travelers program encourages our students in preschool through grade five to read books, books that can take us to places that can give us clues about our world and characters to like or fear or admire and look up to. In each book, there are discoveries about the world and about ourselves. Our district celebrates the students that “got lost in books, as it’s a great place to be found”! The students listed below were recognized at the January 19, 2023, Board of Education meeting. Congratulations to all of our readers!
LH, 5thGrade – Tristan Talerico
LH, 5th Grade – Noah Ponsica
LH, 5th Grade – Caleb Ponsica
LH, 4th Grade – Jon Pandel
LH, 4th Grade – Jacob Oeters
RH, 3rd Grade – Joshua Cadou
RH, 3rd Grade – Lucas Vasilic
RH, 2nd Grade – Jayson Moore
RH, 2nd Grade – Brayden Handal
CM, 1st Grade – CaraMia Morley
CM, 1st Grade – Jasper Lukasik
CM, Kindergarten – Mason Hostler
CM, Kindergarten – Efetobo Alakpa
WR, Preschool – Patrick Murphy Flood
WR, Preschool – Panayiotis Portela
WR, Preschool – Afroditi Portela
WR, Preschool – Carter Montgomery
WR, Preschool – Harlow Kuhn
Congratulations to our Vernon Township High School students who competed at the NJ Health Occupations Students of America (HOSA) competition on January 21st, at Passaic County Technical School, under the direction of Mr. Matt Bergh. HOSA prepares future health professionals for the health industry. Many of our HOSA students also serve locally in our first aid squads, so while they are learning in school, they are also receiving practical, real-life, hands-on training in our community.
Juniors Avery Crafton and Sophie Van Den Broek received FIRST PLACE in the First Aid and CPR Skills category. Avery and Sophie are both volunteers at Vernon Ambulance squad.
Seniors Marissa Ajamian and Daniel Lovett were fifth-place green medal winners for EMT Skills. Marissa is a volunteer at the Vernon Ambulance Squad, and Dan is a volunteer at the Glenwood Pochuck Ambulance Squad. In addition to learning in school, Marissa and Daniel devoted many hours to training on their own to prepare for scenarios they would encounter at this competition.
Senior Aiden Lubeck finished sixth place in Pharmacology and is the HOSA President.
Senior Jessica Lefort finished 8th place in Sports Medicine and is the HOSA treasurer.
Here are some pictures of our students receiving their awards…
Lounsberry Hollow School 5th grade art students, under the direction of art teacher Mr. Erik Villanueva, created maps based on the idea of “self”. In this art project, students practiced many art forms. Each island surrounding their face island represents something about themselves. Students learned to create and center block letters. They learned about Photoshop and using filters. They learned about transfer methods, silhouettes, and symbols. Finally, students learned about mixed media, conceptual art, and deconstruction.
Speaking of art…SAVE THE DATE…VTSD’s annual Artstanding Program will be held on Friday, May 19th, at Lounsberry Hollow School. This program that features our fine, practical, and performing arts is under the direction of Mr. Villanueva and is partially being funded by a very generous Pride grant from the Vernon Township Education Association.
A few reminders…
- We will have upcoming Early Dismissal Days on Wednesdays throughout the winter as follows
- January 25, 2023
- February 15, 2023
- March 29, 2023
- Marking Period 2 closes on January 30th
- Vernon Township High School will have Early Dismissal Days the week of January 30th for mid-term exams
- School will be closed on Monday, February 20th for President’s Day
Thank you for partnering with our schools, our teachers, and our administration!
Freshman Academy: Marking Period 2
This week’s Board of Education meeting was filled with celebrations. First, we had the swearing-in of our re-elected members Joe Sweeney, Kelly Mitchell, & Jen Pellet. Then we had our new Superintendent, Russ Rogers, and Assistant Superintendent, Rosemary Gebhardt, officially promoted. Last but not least, we honored our dedicated Vernon staff that retired between June and December – Congratulations to all, and thank you for your years of service to our community and children!
Superintendent and Assistant Superintendent
At the January 4th Board of Education Meeting, the Board of Ed officially voted on our new Superintendent and Assistant Superintendent. Mr. Russ Rogers will serve as our Superintendent and previously was our Assistant Superintendent, Director of Math & Science, and is a Vernon grad and native. Mrs. Rosemary Gebhardt will now serve as our Assistant Superintendent. Previously Mrs. Gebhardt has served as a principal in a number of buildings, taught in the district, and is also a Vernon grad. Congratulations to Mr. Rogers and Mrs. Gebhardt!
Happy Holidays from the Acting Superintendent and Acting Assistant Superintendent
Dear Vernon School Community:
As we enjoy the holiday season in our six schools through the eyes of your children, we would like to wish our Vernon School community a wonderful holiday season! We hope your family has a safe and enjoyable winter break, a time to spend time with family and re-energize as we prepare for the second half of our school year.
We have much to celebrate in our district as we continue our efforts in each classroom to meet the needs of our students. Congratulations again to our teachers across the district who have been chosen to represent their school as Teacher of the Year and Educational Services Professional of the Year as well as other award recipients. We will be celebrating all of our teachers in a ceremony at the April Public Board of Education meeting, where we will honor the many district-wide professionals who represent the best of the best in our schools. Congratulations again to:
Teacher of the Year…
Walnut Ridge School: Miss Allison Weber, Preschool Teacher
Cedar Mountain Primary School: Ms. Mary Ollert, Special Education Teacher
Rolling Hills Primary School: Mrs. Christina Weiss, Third Grade Teacher
Lounsberry Hollow School: Mrs. Cheryl Reed, Fourth Grade Teacher
Glen Meadow Middle School: Dr. Christopher Jensen, Eighth Grade Science Teacher
Vernon Township High School: Ms. Marianne Longchamp, English Teacher
Educational Services Professionals of the Year…
Walnut Ridge School: Mr. Nik Lasso, Technology Coach
Cedar Mountain Primary School: Mrs. Sherry Polhemus, CST Social Worker
Rolling Hills Primary School: Mrs. Jennifer Gallant, School Nurse
Lounsberry Hollow School: Mrs. Debbie Lisa, School Nurse
Glen Meadow Middle School: Mrs. Carol Gonzalez, School Nurse
Vernon Township High School: Mr. Ray Loughren, School Counselor
NJ Department of Education Exemplary Elementary Educators…
Mrs. Lois Battista, Math Interventionist, and Mrs. Maureen Sweeney, kindergarten teacher, both Cedar Mountain Primary School teachers
NJEA Frederick L Hipp Foundation for Excellence in Education…
Mrs. Lisa Hirkaler, Glen Meadow Middle School art teacher
District Educational Support Professional of the Year…
Mrs. Diane Alfonso, the Administrative Assistant to the Principal at Rolling Hills Primary School
Our district saw much joy lifting holiday spirits this month as our band, choir, and orchestra music teachers put many, many hours of work into teaching their students pieces of literature and staging our winter concerts. Please give our music teachers a special round of applause for creating these special holiday memories for our students and their families. Winter performances are one of the ways we engage families, and it’s heartwarming to see our families in our schools once again.
Some health reminders…
We care deeply about everyone in our community and want to keep each other safe and healthy.
As a reminder, HERE is the letter sent to our families regarding Covid/Flu Practices and Protocols.
If your family needs free Covid test kits HERE is the link to order them.
Your Up-to-Date Contact Information:
Our schools must have up-to-date contact information for all students. We need to be able to contact you in case of an emergency and to make sure you are aware of when we have snow days and scheduled closings. If you have not been receiving messages from the district or your school, you can check with your school building office to make sure we have the correct information in Genesis for your family.
A few reminders…
- School will resume on Tuesday, January 3, 2023.
- There will be a Board of Education Reorganization Meeting on Wednesday, January 4, 2023, at 7:00 pm, at Lounsberry Hollow School. The snow date will be on Thursday, January 5, 2023, at 7:00 pm. At this meeting, we will be honoring our fall retirees.
- School will be closed on Monday, January 16, 2023, in observance of Martin Luther King Day
- Vernon Township High School will have mid-term exams during the week of January 30, 2023; the high school ONLY will have Early Dismissal Days, all other schools will have regular school days
- We will have upcoming Early Dismissal Days on Wellness Wednesdays throughout the winter as follows
- January 25, 2023
- February 15, 2023
- March 29, 2023
- School will be closed on Monday, February 20, 2023, in observance of Presidents’ Day
We wish you a restful and enjoyable holiday with your family. Thank you for sharing your children with us! We wish you good health and the hope that 2023 is an amazing year for all that are part of the Vernon Township School District. As always, we appreciate our partnership with you!
Russell Rogers Rosemary Gebhardt
Acting Superintendent Acting Assistant Superintendent