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Position Changes in The Ramapo Indian Hills District

Ramapo and Indian Hills students showed their support for their guidance counselors at the March 11th, 2024, Board of Education meeting at Ramapo High School.
Ramapo and Indian Hills students showed their support for their guidance counselors at the March 11th, 2024, Board of Education meeting at Ramapo High School.

Changes in supervisory positions have begun in recent months with the appointment of Dr. Quackenbush as District Director of Curriculum, Instruction, and Articulation. These changes have been met with mixed responses from both Ramapo and Indian Hills students and parents. These opinions were conveyed at the Board of Education meeting on March 11th, 2024, where students and parents from both schools spoke about their concerns. One of the main concerns of the BoE audience members was the lack of information given to the public about this change. 

At the BoE meeting, Dr. Quackenbush introduced herself and briefly explained what will take place on July 1st, and how it will affect the 2024-2025 school year and beyond. She was hired by the RIH school district to help oversee the restructuring of the Supervisor system in both high schools. The Supervisor structure was identified to have disparities between the schools in 2019, but the restructure was not approved at the time. This restructure will create new positions within the RIH district under the existing names of District Supervisor, Curriculum, Instruction, & Articulations for STEM, Humanities, School Counseling, and Wellness and Specialized Programs. This change will allow for two District Supervisors of Curriculum, Instruction, and Articulation positions, and four District Level Subject Supervisors (Board of Education March 11 Agenda P4 and P5)

These positions, while new in name, are said to be similar to the current twelve supervisor positions. Many of the current supervisors are in charge of more than one department at both schools which could lead to disorganization. Dr. Quackenbush clarified that this change is meant to “ensure equality for all members of the Ramapo Indian Hills Supervisors Association.” She also says that the “subject area assignments are organized more thoughtfully to enhance the communication, resources, and future initiatives for Departments throughout the District.” The added positions will help reduce the potential of miscommunication or disorganization, and help run the district smoothly. Dr. Quackenbush believes that this change will help leverage the supervisors’ strengths and talents so they can “more effectively impact the District’s programs and enrich opportunities for students and teachers.” While this change has received backlash from the RIH community, the purpose of the new positions is to diminish the inequality between schools and help connect both high school programs to function fluidly.  

Dr. Quackenbush explained that this change “results in all supervisor positions having a district focus.” This means that each supervisor will change their concentration from their current position at either Ramapo or Indian Hills to cover both high schools evenly. The new positions are also meant to ensure each high school is similar in curriculum and communication with the district. Dr. Quackenbush made note of the fact that “out of the 13 supervisors in the district, five already hold district-wide roles, while eight do not.” Supervisory positions currently exist in the RIH district, and this alteration would be adding four supervisory positions to balance each high school. To help the district function smoothly, the new position would be able to communicate easily between the district, the Board of Education, and the communities at both high schools. 

Members of the RIH community attended the BoE meeting on March 11th to share their feelings about the change and make the BoE aware of the opinions circling the district. One of the main concerns from students and parents was the access to each school’s current guidance supervisor. Students and parents alike spoke endlessly about how incredible and influential Mrs. Perry and Mrs. Robinson have been to the student body. The speakers were incredibly passionate about their love for their guidance supervisors and the help they have given to students.
Prior to the BoE meeting, a change.org position was initiated to help raise awareness of the change in positions from the group RIH Parents & Taxpayers. This group specifically expressed their opinion towards the changes made in the guidance department. The change.org petition named “Retain Valued RIH Guidance Supervisors” showcased their opinions by speaking on the fact that they “deeply value the contributions of Mrs. Jennifer Perry and Mrs. Kate Robinson to EACH building and are greatly concerned about the proposed restructuring of this highly effective management structure of our Guidance Departments.” Their concerns surrounded seven major points including the possible loss of outstanding staff, support of mental health, building trusting relationships to better understand the needs of individual students, crisis responses, college applications, bias incidents, and change for the sake of change under an Interim Superintendent of Schools (Change.org). This petition was created to ask questions regarding how this change will help the students in the RIH district.  

During the BoE meeting, it was made clear that both guidance supervisors should be able to connect with their counselors regardless of the detachment from their original high schools. Ramapo senior Addi Palmer spoke at the BoE meeting and shared her strong emotions toward the potential absence of Mrs. Perry and Mrs. Robinson. Prior to the information that the counselors will be able to connect and converse, she said that “by getting rid of Mrs. Perry and Mrs. Robinson you are asking to take away valuable life-lines for RIH students.” Palmer shares her concern that the guidance counselors will be unable to help students in need with this new position. Dr. Quackenbush wishes to voice that this anxiety needs to be clarified, and that students will be able to connect with the counselors despite their updated roles.

While similar changes have been made in nearby districts such as Northern Highlands and Pascack Valley, the restructuring plan for RIH had not been fully described to RIH students, parents, and teachers before the BoE meeting. This resulted in common misconceptions and concerns about the transition and how it will truly affect the lives of students and their families. Prior to the Board of Education meeting, Dr. Baker, RIH Interim Superintendent of Schools, released an email to the RIH community commenting on the changes. He spoke about how the new centralized leadership will allow RIH to “better align resources, exchange best practices, and customize projects to our student body’s needs. This restructure improves our students’ academic, social, and emotional well-being by creating a more integrated and supportive learning environment.”  Recently, there was an email sent out to the RIH community detailing the changes and informing the public about the Supervisory changes. 

Dr. Quackenbush and Dr. Baker welcome students to reach out to District Administrators for further information or clarification about the Supervisor restructuring in hopes of easing the transition and any worries. 

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Lindsey Morrison, Editor-In-Chief (23-24), Online Editor (22-23)

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