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THOMAS A. COLEMAN, JR.,
SUPERINTENDENT OF SCHOOLS
856/769-0144, EXT. 22252 (email@example.com )
Back to School 2015-2016
As we all know, there have been many new initiatives in education that have been forthcoming the last couple of years under the banner of “Achieve NJ”. As a school district, we have endeavored to embrace, adopt, and implement those initiatives with fidelity and enthusiasm in order to seize upon the opportunities for educational improvements for our students that these initiatives afford us. The sheer number of these initiatives and the capacity to implement them in a correlated, coordinated, and coherent manner has been our greatest challenge. As such it is important to understand that although these endeavors are many, their intent should be singular in purpose, that being learning...thus our credo “Learning is Our Mission”. It is our “True North” and our every endeavor is designed with that final destination in mind.
The Core Curriculum Content Standards (CCCS), which are based on providing our students with career and college ready skills, serve as the navigational map in our mission to provide relevant and purposeful learning. All of our initiatives this year are designed towards the common purpose of aligning all we do with the Core Curriculum Content Standards. They will serve to provide us the pathway to completing our mission of relevant and purposeful learning. So how do we get there? Read on for a summary of some of the highlights of the aforementioned initiatives we are undertaking in the upcoming 2015-2016 school year to complete our “Mission”.
Educational Program – Our Curriculum and Instruction Department’s supervisory structure has been reorganized from a content-based structure (Humanities/Science, Math, Technology) to a grade/school level structure. Mr. Sean Fry has been appointed as our new Director of Curriculum and Instruction, filling the position vacated by the retirement of long time Director Patricia Braxton. With the adoption of the CCCS, the new emphasis will be on implementing the already established CCCS in the classroom and overseeing the vertical articulation of such across grade levels and schools. One of the major undertakings will be to align our entire curriculum with the CCCS. Our goal is to now further empower our teachers, Academic Team Leaders, and Principals in this process. (Soon after our decision in this regard, the New Jersey Department of Education announced that they are undertaking the same reorganization of their department.) Accordingly, Mr. Chris Snyder, former Middle School Principal and High School Assistant Principal, will now be the Instructional Facilitator of Secondary Education, grades 6-12. Mr. Fry, in addition to his Director’s duties, will facilitate the Pre K–5 curriculum.
At the William Roper Early Childhood Learning Center and Mary S. Shoemaker School, the curriculum has been updated to align with the CCCS with the adoption of the ReadyGEN program for English Language Arts and the enVision program for math. In addition, they will be implementing a new Standards Aligned Grading system to better reflect students’ mastery of the common core standards. This summer teachers attended professional development for these new initiatives along with parent orientation meetings that were offered for such.
At the Middle School, we continue to work with the Regional Achievement Center developing strategies to close the achievement gap between our highest performing and lowest performing students. In that regard, a new Road to Success program will be implemented whereupon our under performing students will receive targeted instruction during the EEE period. In addition, a number of middle school teachers will be piloting Standards Aligned Grading in their classrooms.
At the High School, certain teachers will also be piloting the Standards Aligned Grading program in their classes in a more comprehensive manner. (There were a few trial runs last year.) Also, with the inception of the PARCC assessments, which are designed to measure the Core Curriculum Content Standards being taught in the classrooms, it will no longer be necessary to have mid-term and final exams as it would be a redundant exercise. The half days relegated for such in the calendar have been eliminated. Additionally, the high school will continue it’s second year of exploring new master schedule options that will align the school day with the new paradigms of the CCCS.
All of these procedures and programs are articulated and aligned with our 2015-2016 District Goals which will be approved at the August 27th Regular Board of Education Meeting. They will then be posted on our website for the public’s review.
Construction – We expect that the hot asphalt application portion of the roofing project will be completed prior to the opening of school on September 8th. The sealing of the roofs will be completed within the first month of school; there will be no residual odor and it will not impact school operations during that time. During the fall, we will be going out to bid on the doors, windows, and HVAC work. The door and window installation work will begin in late fall/early winter and is expected to last throughout the school year. Most of this work will be completed in shifts during after school hours (3:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m.). It is expected that the major HVAC work will be completed next summer, 2016.
School Security Specialist Program Update – We felt we had a very successful phase-in period this past spring with the utilization of our new School Security Specialists. During the summer, the New Jersey Department of Education and the New Jersey Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness issued a Task Force Report on School Security in New Jersey. As per the recommendation in the report, our School Security Specialists conducted an assessment of our security procedures and emergency plan and our compliance with the recommendations in the report. Overall it was found that we are already implementing almost all of the recommendations in the report, including the recommendations regarding the qualifications for the hiring of security services from outside agencies. We are currently being looked at as a model statewide for criteria to be established for security agencies to be certified as school appropriate. Also, we assessed our own program at the end of the school year for any improvements and adaptations. Upon that it was decided after careful consideration that we would transition to an Open Carry firearms procedure as recommended by our Security Specialists. This means that our Security Specialists will no longer carry their firearms in a concealed fashion but rather on their hip as regular law enforcement officers do. This decision was made after careful review and consideration by the administrative team and the Board of Education. The main reason was that in a critical incident the delay in the Security Specialists being able to respond to an armed intruder with the concealed weapon would render them potentially neutralized and risk their safety and those of our students in such a situation. Principals along with the Security Specialists will be holding meetings with the students informing and orienting them to this new practice within the first few days of school prior to them moving to the Open Carry format.
In closing, I hope this information serves to be helpful to you as we are looking forward to a successful, productive, and prosperous 2015-2016 school year.
Thomas A. Coleman, Jr., Superintendent