The Board of Education, or BoE, is a term that is tossed around a lot. Most students know that they are responsible for overseeing the three district schools of Leonia (ACS, LMS, LHS). Some students may know that they have an influence in everything that happens. In an interview with the new superintendent, Dr. Brian Gatens, he outlined the purpose and focus on the current Board of Education.
The Board has 10 members. Nine of those ten are from Leonia, and one is from Edgewater to represent the high school students who come from there. Primarily, the Board sets District policy and hires the Superintendent. There are also two student positions on the Board. Says Dr. Gatens, “If something is proposed to the Board and it is feasible, they will do it. The Board does not say no for the sake of saying no.” Lots of students are surprised when they learn that getting involved in the BoE is streamlined and encouraged. Even if you’re not on the Board, you can view the meetings live on a YouTube channel, or attend the meetings in-person.
If you are a student with a concern for the Board of Ed, you are encouraged to contact the Board if you have to, but as Dr. Gatens states, “the student is expected to follow the Chain of Communications. If they do not, the Board will redirect the student to the appropriate party.” As a general rule, the only reason to go directly to the Board is a problem with the Superintendent or a significant safety concern. There is a hierarchy of power in the Board, but there is not a single person that holds all the power.
Lately, the Board has been tackling their current problems of financial demand and inflation. It takes a lot of money to run the school, and budgeting has been a point of discussion lately. In addition, the hiring of Dr. Gatens was something entirely new that most Board members had not ever gone through. After Dr. Bertolini retired, the Board had to hire a replacement quickly, which was no easy task. In addition to all of this, the Board is trying to focus on the academy programs, and also trying to hire new teachers. Many students are aware that the mandatory Financial Literacy II class has no assigned in-person teacher as of the writing this article. The Board is aware of that.
The Board is made up of seven committees: Finance & Planning, Education, Community Relations, Policy, Safety & Security, Diversity & Inclusion, and the Green Team. For more details, look at this page. The Education committee has the most interesting role. They monitor the progress and performance of all programs in the school, and they write the district curriculum. What you learn in class is, to some extent, decided by this committee. You can actually view the curriculum that your teachers use here. In fact, a lot of interesting information is public and can be found on the BoE website. This includes tentative budgets, calendars, the Resolution to Advance Racial Justice letter, sustainability processes, district policies, and most plans for the future.
If you want to gain a better understanding of how the district works, the Board of Education has a wealth of knowledge available to everyone.