The Highland Park Board of Education at its December 11, 2017, meeting announced that it will extend a contract to Edward Hanks of Eatontown to serve as the full-time media specialist at Bartle Elementary School
The district, however, has yet to fill a part-time media specialist position at Irving, because of a reported lack of qualified applicants.
Mr. Hanks will receive a salary of $58,145, effective January 2, 2018, according to Monday night’s meeting agenda.
Bartle Elementary and Irving Primary have been without a media specialist since Michael Ferraro, who served both schools, was removed from the position in the spring of 2017. At the Board of Education’s April 26, 2017 meeting, members indicated that the district would instead seek candidates who conformed to a new media library curriculum.
This lead the district to redefine of the role of the media specialist, as far as how that position would coincide with a new curriculum. The district has indicated a new media specialist would align with a curriculum that emphasized Makerspace technology, which includes coding, robotics, Tinkercad, 3D design, audio and video editing tools, as well as traditional arts and crafts.
At the December 11, 2017 meeting, Superintendent Scott Taylor noted that the director of the library sciences program at Rutgers University recommended Mr. Hanks, who has been serving as a substitute teacher for Eatontown Public Schools.
Quoting from a reference letter, Dr. Taylor noted that Mr. Hanks “loves books, [is] always ready to be in the library, and gets students excited about reading.”
Mr. Hanks will be completing his degree at Rutgers this month, according to board member Judy Pietrobono, who delivered the Personnel & Communication Committee report.
At Irving, which is still awaiting a media specialist, Michele DeMarco, Irving’s part-time art teacher, receives $36.53/hour for writing Irving’s media center lesson plans. Highland Park Middle School/High School librarian Joyce Puccio librarian and Irving paraprofessional Denise Zuback have been working with a team of parent volunteers in order to restore book checkout, book re-shelving and other administrative tasks.
With the media center specialist positions unfilled, students at Bartle and Irving have been unable to check books out, but both schools have maintained a library period.