Douglas Scott Bojanich

Superintendent Douglas Scott Bojanich talks during the July 27 River Valley Zoom meeting.

THREE OAKS — New Superintendent Douglas Scott Bojanich delivered his first report to the River Valley Board of Education after starting the job on July 20.

“I’ve been here a week, and it’s just been amazing for me to see and meet the people that I have, and get the support as soon as I walked in the office,” he said during the Monday, July 27, Zoom meeting.

Bojanich gave a special thanks to Brian Brown, Brenda Brunke, Juanita Martin, Curtis Newton, Bob Payne, Pat Breen, Heidi Clark, Patrick Zuccala, “and a lot of other people.”

The Board of Education voted 7-0 on June 10 to offer the position of superintendent to Bojanich. He was previously Director of Alternative Education Rockingham County Public Schools, Harrisonburg, Va., and succeeds William Kearney, who retired at the end of the 2019-2020 school year.

Bojanich said 90 percent of what he has been doing for the first week involves “trying to figure out our return to school plan.”

For about a month he’s been participating in weekly Zoom meetings with other Berrien County school district superintendents and follow-up discussions including near daily talks with RESA Superintendent Eric Hoppstock.

“As you see plans come out, ours included, there will be very much a Berrien County flavor to all those documents.”

Bojanich said there are two main focuses for the return to school — 1. The virus and what phase the area is in at the time; and 2. What the state Department of Education and Legislature are doing.

“So you have one eye on the virus and the other eye on the Legislature and the Department of Education, and you might get cross-eyed doing it.”

At a special meeting prior to Aug. 10,  Bojanich said the board will be asked to approve the district’s preparedness and response plan that all schools in Michigan will be required to pass.

He said more detailed plans will follow, with meetings on tap (including on July 28) to get to the meat and potatoes of what learning will look like when the kids come back.

Since no one knows what will happen in the coming months, Bojanich said he feels River Valley has to be prepared for some type of virtual experience. Also, he said a survey related to the coming school year has been sent out on the website to parents.

And Bojanich said the district’s central office would be open by appointment only beginning on July 29.

“One of the things that’s keeping me up at night is if we lose key people in the district, we lose teachers because they get sick, God forbid, or they have to quarantine, that’s going to be another hurdle. We’re trying to play it safe.”

Also on July 27, the River Valley Board of Education was told that middle/high school math teacher Melissa DeRosa had submitted a letter of resignation and that the position has posted and candidates already have been interviewed.

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