856/769-0144, EXT. 22252 (coleman.t@woodstown.org )

Superintendent’s Message

Back to School 2016-2017

On Our Way to the New Normal …
Renovation Work Well Underway and

Progressing on Schedule



I hope this communication finds you enjoying your remaining days of summer and all is well with you and your families. As we approach the opening of the 2016-2017 school year, I wanted to bring everyone up-to-date on what has been going on this summer and what to expect this upcoming year.  First and foremost, let me begin with the ongoing construction project. This summer by far has been the busiest and most productive phase of the project.  As I have expressed when the project began two years ago, we should bid adieu to normal for the next couple of years. We are now in the thick of that with a great deal of the work being done this summer and into next year. But, we are well on our way to the “new normal” of a fully renovated 21st century complex.


In July, the asbestos abatement work at the High School/Middle School was commenced and successfully completed. It was quite an undertaking and, as you may know, required us to completely shut down the building and relocate all of our summer personnel to other locations in the district. My compliments to all those staff who have had to endure their temporary locations and carried out business as usual in doing so. Since mid July, contractors have been doing the HVAC work which requires the installation of duct and electrical conduit throughout the hallways, classrooms, gym, media center, and offices – essentially the whole building. This work will continue to be ongoing throughout the year. Window installation has begun and most windows have already been installed in the front of the building. Lavatories in the High School 100 wing have been renovated and are expected to be complete by school’s opening. Middle School 100 wing lavatories are being renovated also but will not be ready for the first few weeks of school. Middle School students will use the first floor bathrooms during that time. Overall work will be ongoing in earnest up to the last week in August, and then work schedules will be adjusted to accommodate the school schedule. Everything is on schedule and under budget and, barring any unforeseen circumstances beyond our control, we are expected to open on time.


So what can you expect to see as school opens? Well, as I mentioned two years ago when the project began, do not expect to see normal. Because of the ongoing work, most of the ceilings in the building hallways will be open and exposed without ceiling tiles. There will be new lighting in the hallways. In the auditorium, the old seats have been removed and the new ones are due to be fully installed by mid September. In the meantime, temporary seats will be provided for classes that are being held there. Windows will continue to be installed as the school year commences and probably throughout the fall. These will be installed during second shift (3:00-11:00 p.m.), so students may leave their classrooms one day and return the next morning with new windows in their rooms. New boilers for heating are due to be installed and operational by mid October, which is when we normally fired up the boilers for heating in previous years. There is a possibility that the elevator may not be operational the first week of school. We have implemented double shifts to try to prevent this, but, in the event it is not ready for school’s opening, we are prepared to make the appropriate accommodations for students and staff who have a need for the elevator. And finally, parking. Due to the construction, we have to relocate many parking spaces from the side of the High School/Middle School building out to the student parking lot. This will limit the amount of student parking which will be available to seniors only this year. Dr. Hoopes, High School Principal, will be sending out additional information to High School students and parents in this regard.


As for the Mary Shoemaker School, much of the work is expected to be complete by the beginning of school. HVAC has been upgraded in many areas throughout the building, new doors have been installed, and bathrooms have been renovated.


We have also been busy with other non-construction related initiatives this summer. At the August Board of Education meeting, the Board adopted our district goals for 2016-2017. You may access them on our website. As you will see under Ed Programs, we will continue with many of our curricular initiatives inclusive of aligning our curriculum with the common core standards, standards aligned grading, implementing and utilizing our new data tool “Ed Connect”, investigating a new High School schedule, and continuing our efforts in communicating and articulating across the PreK-12 curriculum. Under Personnel, you will see that we have undertaken an initiative to provide diversity training for all our staff to help provide resources and understanding on how to better address the needs of the increasing diversity of our student population. I have contracted Dr. Derrick Campbell to provide the training. Dr. Campbell has already provided training for our Principals and has met with a representative group of our minority parents, community members, and staff to assess our needs and to provide a program tailored to those needs. The plan is to have Dr. Campbell give a brief overview of his program as part of our first in-service day and then provide a one-day training in late September to our building level academic team leaders with the intent of having turnkey training for all of our staff. You will also see under Policy our desire to create a Five-Year Strategic Plan. This will be conducted by an outside provider and include community members, parents, staff, and students. Given the recent increased interest and desire by community members to be more involved in our schools as evidenced by the creation of CARE in response to the recent outsourcing proposal, we felt this would be a good time to capitalize on increased community interest and engage our constituents in the process. Finally, under Finance/Facilities, we will continue to seek ways to increase revenue and realize savings in our expenditures so that we once again will not have to be faced with a deficit that will force us to make economic decisions that will compromise the quality of our programs and the quality of life of our staff.


I thank you for taking the time to read my comments and look forward to a prosperous 2016-2017 school year. Enjoy the rest of your summer.  

Thomas A. Coleman, Jr.,
Superintendent of Schools