Now that Guttenberg residents have reelected Rocio Day and Rebecca Vazquez to the Board of Education, and elected newcomer Jeanne Sorensen, what can parents expect in the coming year?
The town only has one school, the K-8 Anna L. Klein elementary school. High school students in Guttenberg attend North Bergen High School.
Improving the Klein school is a priority for all three of the aforementioned board members, they said in a recent interview. They hope to alleviate overcrowding in the school with the construction of a planned Community Center/School Extension. But the state Department of Education has yet to approve the project.
The school board has nine members.
Meanwhile, the board has personnel changes to deal with as well. New superintendent Michelle Rosenberg will take the place of Acting Superintendent and Business Administrator Jolene Mantineo as of Jan. 1.
Rosenberg will begin her new post facing opposition from a group calling themselves “The Concerned Parents of the Anna L. Klein Students.” The group circulated a letter on Oct. 20 claiming that Rosenberg, who worked for the district three years ago, allegedly left her job as curriculum director in the middle of the school year. They also said they had heard about complaints from staff that Rosenberg allegedly treated them unprofessionally. The group had hoped that school board candidates Day and Vazquez, who approved Rosenberg’s new appointment, would be defeated at the polls.
“It is important that they have a solid education in order to become productive members of society.” – Rebecca Vazquez
Vazquez has witnessed Guttenberg’s school district grow through the experience of her daughter, a graduate of Anna L Klein who is currently a student at Drew University.
Day has expressed the need to create space in the crowded Klein school. This is her eighth year with the school board.
New to the board
Sorensen, who always wanted to be a member of the Board of Education, is the new to the board this year. Along with Vazquez and Day, she was elected from seven candidates in the election on Nov. 6.
“I would like to thank everyone who voted for me,” said Sorensen.
She is a Klein school alumnus, has had two children graduate from the school, and currently has two children attending classes at Klein. She said she believes her long association with the school allows her to see the board’s future hurdles in a different light.
Sorensen said she would like to get parents more involved in meetings as well as with the school. One of her goals is to bring the Drama Club back to Klein, which she was a part of as a student.
“I just like to be involved and see what’s going on in my town,” said Sorensen.
Vazquez was eager to welcome newcomer Sorensen to the school board.
“We are excited to be working with a new member of the Guttenberg community and are confident that Jeanne will work with us and the new superintendent to move the school district forward,” said Vazquez.
Best interest for Anna L Klein
“The students at Anna L Klein School represent the future of our community,” said Vazquez. “It is important that they have a solid education in order to become productive members of society.”
“I want to make sure that the [students] and teachers have what they need,” said Sorensen.
“These changes will address areas that need strengthening in curriculum and instruction,” said Vazquez. “I want to work closely with the new superintendent to implement the changes that are needed to strengthen the school academically and to move us [the school] out of the ‘Focus’ category.”
According to Vazquez, the state has new mandates for teacher evaluations/tenure that must be implemented by the end of the school year so “there is a great deal of work to be done.”
“It is imperative that we have seasoned board members at this critical juncture to ensure that Guttenberg is in compliance with these regulations,” said Vazquez. “We want to make sure that teachers have fair and effective evaluations.”
Solving the overcrowding at the Klein school will require satisfying the state’s demand for a suitable location for the center/extension, a problem the board has yet to solve.
“We will also continue to work with the mayor and the state to pursue the construction of the joint Community Center/School Extension that will address the severe overcrowding that we face at Anna L. Klein,” said Vazquez. “The Community Center/School Extension is an ongoing project that I have been involved with from the beginning; I am hoping that we can iron out all the details with the state DOE so we can see this project to fruition in the near future.”
The vote totals for the Nov. 6 election were as follows: Rebecca Vazquez with 480, Rocio Day with 436, Jeanne Sorensen with 421, Elizabeth Padron-Geron with 379, Rogelio Ruiz with 338, Shaniqua Martin with 279, and Jak Karako with 106. Three people cast write-in votes.
Vanessa Cruz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org