On June 26, 2012, the Fort Lee Board of Education will have a special meeting. The new Superintendent will be named at this meeting. There is every indication that the new superintendent named will be the current Interim Superintendent, Steven Engravalle. And at that moment in time, the Borough of Fort Lee will have a choice, to move forward or to push our community toward educational oblivion.
The forces of the Anti-Engravalle movement, individuals who have dominated the BOE meetings with rhetoric for the past nine months, will have a choice. They will have the option to accept the BOE decision or to create a major civil war in this community. They will have the option to create havoc, with denouncements of the current BOE members, with pronouncements of prejudice, with accusations that the BOE members obstructed the search firm’s ability to do a legitimate search, etc., etc., etc. If they choose the path of havoc, they will be condemning the Fort Lee community to a future where our children suffer and our educational system suffers.
This is not about right or wrong. This is not about winning a war. This is about the future of Fort Lee and the children of Fort Lee, a future very much in jeopardy right now. We have the Centuria project down the road, bringing a potential influx of students into an already overcrowded system. We have a school budget which limits us severely in providing the true education needs of our students. We have a Board of Education whose members often function dysfunctionally, with members missing multiple meetings, and others with personal agendas. We have two excellent BOE members who have chosen not to run for office again this year and will be sorely missed. Last year, Fort Lee citizens/voters barely passed a referendum to repair our schools, one which only covered the bare essential construction needs of the school buildings. And we have little hope of passing a 2nd referendum to upgrade and expand the buildings to solve the overcrowding issue. FORT LEE IS A COMMUNITY IN CRISIS!
As a citizen with three children in the school system, I am deeply concerned. It appears that everyone is so caught up in their own personal battles that they are missing the big picture, i.e. the future of our children is all that really matters! Whoever the BOE members may be; whoever the superintendent may be; we have to work with them or there can be no hope for the future of Fort Lee education. We have a BOE election in November; there will be at least two new BOE members. As of this week, we will have a final appointment of a school superintendent. And after seeing six superintendents in the last decade, I am personally fed up with the entire selection process.
Finally, if Mr. Engravalle is selected, as I predict, let’s attempt to work with him. Let’s give him a chance to implement policies that he believes will improve the Fort Lee educational system. There really are no other choices. All other choices clearly lead to educational oblivion for Fort Lee. The war has to end, and sooner is better than later.