On Tuesday, December 20th, the Cinnaminson Board of Education convened for their final meeting of 2016.
With roughly 35 members of the public in attendance, the Board and presenters discussed issues related to the school district such as new construction, ALICE Training for emergency situations, and reports from representatives of the middle and high schools.
The biggest news from the session surrounded the much-debated issue of Yom Kippur and Rosh Hashanah on the school calendar for the next two years.
Also discussed Tuesday was the acknowledgement of longtime board member Harry Shea’s final meeting and Superintendent Salvatore Illuzzi’s retirement announcement.
To start, late in the summer, parents began to raise an issue with the fact that days off were not appointed to the Jewish holidays of Yom Kippur and Rosh Hashanah for the 2016-2017 school year. This debate then spilled into Cinnaminson Board of Education meetings during the fall and came to a head when residents voiced their opinions to the board at the November 15th meeting.
That vote took place Tuesday night, and the board stuck with their original view in not giving days off for the aforementioned holidays.
The board previously cited a dwindling percentage in the Jewish community in town as the population continues to grow. Opposing views from the public previously stated students of faith having to miss school work, quizzes, and tests in order to stay home to respect their faith as reasons to keep them on the school calendar.
A vote of 7-1 in favor of “Calendar A” was the final result which will continue to put kids in schools on the Jewish holidays for the next school year. This version of the 2017-2018 school calendar is attached.
The lone nay vote came from BOE member Dennis Hassis.
“I tried to get Good Friday removed from the calendar. If you’re not going to have a religious holiday, you’re not going to have a religious holiday,” Mr. Hassis responded when asked about his opposing vote.
Another major announcement from the meeting was that it would be Harry Shea’s last one. He had served on the board for 25 years, 1990-2011 and 2013-2016. During the meeting, Harry spoke on his involvement with the district.
“It comes from my experience as a student. I had some of my best experiences, I can remember, as a student here at Cinnaminson because the Boards of Education made good decisions back then regarding who they hired to put in front of students…I wanted to be part of that.”
After the meeting, BOE member Laura Fitzwater chimed in about Mr. Shay.
“[Harry Shea] is devoted to this community, has grown up here, and he too will be missed on the board. He’s someone who always adds ideas to any meeting and is certainly not afraid to ask any questions for clarification and knowledge.”
Finally, possibly the biggest announcement of the night was that Superintendent Salvatore Illuzzi will be retiring when his contract is up on June 30th. His resignation letter was read Tuesday night, and he will continue in his role until then. It was certainly apparent that he has great respect from his peers who struggled to fight back tears as they spoke about him.
Laura Fitzwater spoke on Dr. Illuzzi as well: “He’s going to be really hard to replace, because he has good ideas, is a really good thinker, and is a really outstanding leader. He’s just a good man too.”
The Cinnaminson Board of Education will reconvene for the first time in 2017 on a tentative date of January 5th.
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