Lafayette welcomed its new superintendent of schools, Dr. Lydia Furnari, who has served as a teacher and an administrator in suburban and urban schools in New Jersey for over 37 years.
“I look forward to working with you all,” she told the school board at its Sept. 8 meeting. She thanked members for their confidence in her ability to serve .
Furnari said she met with the board president, Joshua Aikens, several times. “I want to make sure that I spend my time here with you at Lafayette being as helpful and supportive to all of you during my time here,” she said. “I look forward to working with the students and their families that we serve.”
Furnari said school year was off to a very successful start, with students and staff members becoming familiar with new routines and expectations. The staff participated in school orientation, she said.
“It was wonderful to see students back in the building,” she said. “At the start of any school year the staff have learned to expect the unexpected.”
Bus driver shortage
Furnari said there aren’t enough bus drivers to cover all the routes, which has caused a problem getting some children to school promptly.
Board members said many schools in the county have run into the same difficulty, which is making routes longer so that all students can be picked up, and leading to a delay in start times.
Furnari reported that Lafayette’s students are getting to school on time.
She told the Advertiser that school officials are working on obtaining one more bus to cover a route, and expect the bus to be on the road soon.
“I want to thank all of you who are living this with us and for your understanding and patience,” Furnari told the board and all of the faculty members and parents present at the meeting.
The board agreed this school year will be challenging because of the ongoing pandemic. Everyone at school is making sure all Covid-19 protocols are being followed. The school is following the governor’s mandate that masks be worn at all times by everyone inside New Jersey school buildings.
School to add social worker
The school board approved a grant amendment to use a $22,638 federal grant for mental health services, specifically to hire a social worker.
The Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act was signed into law on Dec. 27, 2020, and provides additional money for the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund (ESSER II Fund).
Parent Liane Jenkins asked the board when the added social worker will begin employment, and the hours the social worker will be available to students. Jenkins, along with other staff members and parents present, said it’s very important to provide students with mental health support.
Lafayette has a Child Study team that, in addition to their other duties, is doing the job social workers would normally do.
One staff member on the Child study team leaves the school at 1 p.m. The school board is looking for a third person to cover the afternoon so that mental health staff will be present on campus each day.
School officials said they will provide parents with the social worker’s name and hours of availability after the position is filled.
“I want to make sure that I spend my time here with you at Lafayette being as helpful and supportive to all of you during my time here. I look forward to working with the students and their families that we serve.” Dr. Lydia Furnari