December 2018

December 2018

Dear Families and Friends,

Among the members of the Board of Education – the governing body of our school district – there exists courageous leadership that sets the stage for how we manage the operation of our schools. At the top of the Board’s list of priorities are concern for the welfare and wellness of each student and staff member, and the importance of respect and civility as we discuss, teach, assess, debate, and innovate.

This month, the Board of Education unanimously approved four resolutions that illustrate its continuing commitment to move the Piscataway School District closer to its vision of providing a safe, supportive environment for children to learn and employees to work.

1. In the wake of an early, unexpected snowstorm that caused massive weather delays and hazardous road conditions, the Board recognized all staff for their extraordinary service on November 15, 2018. The Board commended our bus drivers, aides, the transportation staff; the drivers and aides of the Layla Transportation Company and Mission One; and the principals, teachers, and aftercare staff who remained late into the evening to supervise and comfort children waiting for their parents.

2. The Board designated the Piscataway School District a stigma-free educational district. Such a community aims to raise awareness about mental health issues, provide supportive treatment, and encourage those living with mental illness to seek professional assistance without stigma. 

3. Recognizing that insufficient sleep impacts student attention, memory, and behavior, the Board of Education asked the Administration to explore the feasibility of later school start times, particularly for middle and high school students. The Board asked the Administration to consider the culture of our community, potential costs, family considerations, and the impact on the educational and extracurricular programs.

4. The Board expressed its support for a $15/hour minimum wage for our employees, and directed that the hourly rate for noon-time aides, traffic aides, and part-time cleaners be steadily increased to achieve a $15 minimum wage by the 2021-22 school year. Moreover, the Board directed the Administration to develop a plan to ensure that all others earning less than $15/hour receive similar wage increases within an appropriate and feasible time frame.

The December Board meeting capped a legacy in which members expressed their support that our schools be a safe haven for all children, “regardless of…race or immigration status;” their support for effective gun control and expanded mental health services for young people; their support for a safe, inclusive environment for LGBTQ+ students; and their opposition to the separation of children and their families at US borders.

This is the learning culture and environment that we all strive to create in Piscataway. Because we are human, we may not all get it right every single time, but the common theme is that, through our example, we can promote a fair, compassionate, safe, and respectful society in which all children can thrive. I know this is hard work.

My wish for you this holiday season is that you continue to find the faith, inspiration, and strength to continue this journey with our students.

 

Teresa M.  Rafferty 
Superintendent of Schools