WARREN, NJ-- The Watchung Hills Regional High School Board of Education met on Tuesday, September 10. In her remarks, Superintendant Elizabeth Jewett said, " It’s been great over the past week getting to meet the staff members and converse with them. " “I’m thoroughly enjoying my time at Watchung Hills and I can’t wait to see what the rest of the year is going to bring.”
A school security update was given by Steve Davies, the director of safety and security. Davies said, Freshman students were given presentations on harassment, intimidation and bullying, personal protection, emergency procedures and were asked to find a confidant or mentor in school. Jewett said she is extremely impressed with the security in the school and always feels safe when walking the halls. “They really are a presence throughout the building,” she said. “They really know the student body.”
There was an unusually large turnout of parents at the meeting. In the public commentary portion of the meeting, issues regarding scheduling concerns, overcrowding, pay to play programs, and the rumored mascot change were just a few of the items discussed. The board and the new superintendent repeatedly stated they had never seen so many parents turn out at one time to discuss academic issues. They were very surprised and engaged in a conversation on how to address some of the issues including the action steps for scheduling issues and a request for a forum with parents so there can be a dialog about concerns. The rumour regarding the mascot change was dispelled. The Warrior will remain.
Voters in Warren Township, Long Hill Township and Watchung will vote on a $12.5 million referendum on Tuesday September 24. The referendum question will include replacing the 57-year-old steam heating system in the South Building, replacing the roof on both the South and North buildings, replacing non-functioning exhaust fans, and replacing the leaking glass window wall. It also will include redesigning the school's two cafeterias for improved efficiency, installing an emergency access road at the south end of the school, and repaving the parking lots.
The board is holding a public forum about the referendum this Monday, September 16, in the Auditorium at the High School.
Board President Robert Horowitz said the repairs that would be covered by the referendum are crucial and need to be done sooner rather than later.This isn’t about putting in a turf field or a new auditorium, he said, but rather fixing things that are vital to the livelihood of the buildings.“This is meat and potatoes,” Horowitz said. “This affects the safety, health and well being of our students.” It is important for the community beyond school aged parents to understand that well maintained, strong schools help retain the reputation of our towns and property values. In addition, with the 40% state matching money it is the best possible situation for taxpayers.