The Hopewell Valley Board of Education approved an equipment overhaul for the Hopewell Valley Central High School (“HVCHS”) television program and also proposed a number of changes in the District’s drug and alcohol policy to include vaping, at their June meeting.
The HVCHS television studio will undergo equipment upgrades through Troxell, a nationwide education technology distributor, at the price of $199,200. The Board, following what Board member Peter DiDonato called a “difficult budget cycle,” contended with whether the money would be best spent in the television program, with undersubscribed classes cut in the new budget.
“I’m not sure where the balance comes,” Board member Michael Markulec said. “It’s a tough choice.”
The Board noted that the television program at the High School has approximately 70 students currently, compared to the classes being cut which had fewer than 15 students.
DiDonato said that the upgraded equipment could last “about 15 years,” although he noted that “the curve on technology these days is exponential.” Board member Adam Sawicki agreed, saying that delaying further could lead to more expensive upgrades.
“This program cannot run without updating the equipment,” said Board member Susan Pollara. “We would be so far behind the times… we need to update this equipment to run the program properly.”
The Board passed the agreement with Troxell, with Markulec as the only dissenting vote.
A series of changes to HVCHS’s alcohol and drugs policy were additionally discussed, specifically designed to reflect the usage of electronic cigarettes and vaping devices.
“The nicotine contained in [electronic cigarettes] is much more concentrated than you think,” said Superintendent Tom Smith. “It’s not just a Hopewell issue, it’s clearly across the country.”
The policy expansion would put e-cigarettes in line with other drug paraphernalia, allowing the school to test the device for cannabinoids or nicotine. Depending on what substance is found, the student would be submitted for discipline just as in the current school policy.
The Board approved the first reading of the amendment, with the policy heading for second reading next meeting.
The Board additionally confirmed Raquel Rivera, current Spanish teacher at HVCHS and former teacher at Timberlane Middle School, as the new Vice Principal of Timberlane.
“It’s interesting how the story continues,” Rivera said on her return to Timberlane. “I feel like I’m homegrown.”
Rivera said she was “humbled and blessed” as a child of immigrant parents, going through English language classes as a child herself.
“I wouldn’t have imagined this at all, but it’s been a great deal of work and dedication,” Rivera said.
The Board’s next meeting is scheduled for July 15.