Staff achievements, state testing acknowledged by BOE

The BOE also discussed committee matters and delayed capital projects.


Briana Keenan

Bilotti acknowledging the staff achievements.

The Pascack Valley Regional High School District Board of Education recognized staff achievements, listened to state test reports, and discussed committee matters at their regular meeting on Monday night. 

Patricia Corkery, the Executive Secretary to the Superintendent, and Marianne Simak, the Executive Secretary to the Principal at Pascack Hills, were recognized by the BOE for working in the district for 25 years. 

“The four individuals (the other two being from Pascack Valley) who have reached 25 years are the heart and soul of this district,” Hills Principal Tim Wieland said, “They’re amazing; they’re what makes the district wonderful.” 

Specifically, Wieland said that Simak “is an integral part of [the district’s] administrative team.” 

Bilotti (left), BOE President Joseph Blundo (second from left), Simak (center), and Wieland (right).

Superintendent Sarah Bilotti acknowledged the tenured staff in the district. From Hills, six people were tenured.

  • Vani Apanosian, Hills Special Education Teacher
  • Steven Casamento, Hills Guidance Counselor
  • Jamie Cohen, Hills Special Education Teacher
  • Vanessa Martinez, Hills Spanish Teacher
  • Tracy Ralph, Hills Learning Disabilities Teacher/Consultant 
  • Nicholas Scerbo, Hills Social Studies Teacher 

“Tenured truly means something to us here…Dr. [Barry] Bachenheimer (the district’s Supervisor of Curriculum and Instruction) truly holds our staff to a really high bar,” Bilotti said, “It’s an outstanding accomplishment to serve our students.” 

Bilotti (left) and Wieland (right) with some of the tenured staff.

The following staff members were promoted to new positions in the district. 

  • Lisa Leili, former Teacher Aide/Site Mentor; newly Hills Main Office General Secretary 
  • Jill McCabe, former General Secretary; newly Administrative Assistant to the Superintendent

The last staff recognitions were for those who are new to the district this year.

  • Dave Asani, Hills Night Custodian
  • Florian Caco, Hills Night Custodian
  • Genci Gega, Hills Night Custodian
  • Megan Graziano, Supervisor of Instruction for Science and Technology Education
  • Kimi Ismaili, Hills Night Custodian
  • Dilma Panarello Siempra, District World Language Teacher
  • Alexa Petzold, Hills Guidance Counselor
  • Derek Piccini, Hills Assistant Principal
Director of Technology and Communication Paul Zeller taking a photo of some of the new staff.

Wieland commented on Petzold and Piccini being new to Hills. He said that it feels like Petzold “has been on [the Hills] staff for a while” and that Piccini “has already immersed himself in [the Hills] community by attending many Hills events.” 

Bachenheimer reported on state testing later in the meeting. For SAT, ACT, and AP testing, rates have been “holding steady” according to him, with some fluctuations due to postgraduate schools being test-optional for students. 

The same rates have applied to the New Jersey Student Learning Assessment (NJSLA) and Dynamic Learning Maps (DLM). It was reported that the expectations were met, if not, exceeded by students in the district most of the time. 

Bachenheimer noted that the New Jersey Graduated Proficiency Assessment (NJ GPA) was a “pilot test.” The data showed that 76% of students at Hills are ready to graduate while 50% of students in the state are ready to graduate; however, 100% of Hills students graduate each year.

The committees under the BOE for aspects such as policy, finance, and curriculum have started meeting via Zoom. One aspect under finance that is currently being discussed is acquiring property across the street from Hills. The Finance Committee will be meeting next week to further discuss it. 

Some volunteers and assistant coaches were approved for Hills athletics. They include the following. 

  • John Dinkey, Assistant Softball Coach
  • Lindsay Runge, Assistant Softball Coach
  • Kaitlin Higgins, Assistant Bowling Coach
  • Gerald Mercandante, Assistant Softball Coach
  • Brad Christie, Wrestling Volunteer
  • Bruce Wacha, Wrestling Volunteer 

Hills student representative Olivia Ge gave her monthly report at the meeting. She discussed updates in sports for tennis, soccer, and football, the PSAT administered for juniors on Oct. 15, and a technology workshop for Spanish-speaking parents. 

One final item discussed at the meeting was the delay in some of the district’s capital projects. Some have been delayed for two years due to price increases and not enough money in the budget, such as roof repairs. More money is subject to be approved at the next meeting and projects such as the roof repairs have been added into the 2023-24 budget.