Hopewell Valley Board of Education Talks Accolades, Bussing Issues, Team Lunches


At its first meeting of the new school year, the Hopewell Valley Regional Board of Education discussed some of the District’s recent achievements including student successes, and also addressed some recent issues with transportation.

The Board highlighted some District accolades and, according to HVRSD Superintendent Dr. Thomas A. Smith, the District ranks number one school in the County for both athletes and safety, is in the top one percent of districts in America, and is in the top one percent of schools to be employed. Furthermore, Smith stated that HVRSD recently ranked sixteenth in the state overall by NJ Monthly Magazine.

“I’ll be the first one to say we should take all these accolades with a grain of salt but it does validate the work we do,” said Smith, continuing by complimenting the hard work of the BOE. “[School] boards really set a vision and set a tone for the district. Our board I would consider exceptional in doing that.”

Outside of the District’s awards, the Board additionally recognized the achievements of its students. First, a presentation from Hopewell Valley student and boy scout, Sully Meyers, detailed his renovation of a walkway to the baseball field behind Timberlane Middle School.

“My only goal for the Eagle project was to support local baseball,” Meyers said. “I have enjoyed the fruits of local baseball for many years.”

The 84 foot-long path took about a week and a half of work to complete with the help of local boy scouts and contractors, as well as District workers.

The Board additionally recognized the accomplishments of high school junior Anna Salvatore, whose Supreme Court blog, High School SCOTUS, received national recognition from both the Columbia Journalism Review and NPR, even receiving an invite from a clerk of Justice Neil Gorsuch to visit the Supreme Court itself.

“They made this thing so much cooler than I thought it could be,” Salvatore said. “It was really cool and surreal.”

The Board additionally discussed issues with transportation in the district, with a new law requiring bus drivers go beyond the basic requirements of knowing how to drive a bus but additionally knowing how to do repairs and other maintenance.

“We’re struggling like most districts with buses,” Smith said. “We’re doing our best.”

Smith assured that they are looking for more bus drivers, as well as substitute bus drivers, to help fill the shortage.

The Board furthermore received complaints about the new team lunch system implemented at Timberlane. The new program requires students at lunchtime to sit with an assigned team rather than anyone else.

Rachel Castria, a parent of an eighth grade student, aired some complaints about the policy.

“School lunch was the one time kids were guaranteed to see their friends,” Castria said. “This is lunch – just lunch – not a social skills workshop.”

However, Smith stated that this is not intended to be a permanent change and that it is susceptible to change with the input of the parents, teachers, and students. Additionally, the policy is controlled by the school itself, not the Board.

The Board stated that an opportunity for student input will also be available.

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