To the casual observer, the beginning of a new school year conjures up memories of students renewing old acquaintances and establishing new ones. We all remember the anticipation of “seeing” who was in your class and wondering if the teachers would be “nice.” Moving to the middle or high school always added some anxiety to that night before the first day. As I write this column, the indelible impressions are etched in my mind so much that I still remember my high school locker combination!
With the 2007 – 2008 school year fully engaged, I want to share a view of the South Brunswick School District that extends beyond that available to the casual observer. The simplistic glimpse of a new school year, while quite nostalgic, belies the incredible efforts that are put in place to begin anew. First and foremost, as a “student first,” goal-driven School District, much planning has occurred to prepare for this new school year. This planning has manifested itself into the District’s Goals and Objectives for 2007 – 2008.
Our first goal area deals with curriculum and instruction. We feel strongly that the heart and soul of a quality program needs to be reflected in this goal area and to that end much work is planned. Consistent with our South Brunswick Curriculum and Review Cycle, we will be finalizing our Mathematics implementations and working to refine those efforts through additional professional development with teachers and supervisors.
In the area of Health Education, we will be adding a Cyber safety unit in Fifth Grade, a harassment unit, also in Fifth Grade, and a research task for Twelfth Grade. We are revising our Social Studies curriculum with an in-depth review of our concepts and standards. A revision of our World Language areas of Spanish and French is just being finished and Latin will just begin. In addition, we are reviewing and revising our Library-Media Program, as well as working to update our High School Special Education course outlines.
We are entering our second year review of our K-8 Science courses, our Art curriculum, and we are looking to create a first draft of our English Language Learners (ELL) curriculum (for non-English speaking students).
A “first” year review of Language Arts, Music, Character Education and Business Education will be started. As with all of the other areas previously mentioned, this work will extend and be refined over the next several years.
A second goal area involves Professional Development. This area supports the curriculum by providing training opportunities for all staff so that they can become more effective in carrying out their job responsibilities. In addition to providing professional development opportunities in all of the curricular areas previously mentioned, this goal area will support training in National- and State-mandated areas such as preventing sexual harassment and bullying, Individualized Education Plans, Section 504 Plans and many others.
A third goal area deals with Information Technology. In this area, we will be emphasizing a new system for online grades, assignments and student attendance. Through this initiative, parents and students will be better able to track student progress and have closer contact with staff members. We will also be implementing our recently completed Three-Year Technology Plan that drives every use of technology in the District.
A fourth goal area deals with Facilities and reflects our Comprehensive Facility Plan. We will complete our referendum projects (December 2003 Referendum) this year with our concluding work at Crossroads North and South. In addition, we are exploring energy-saving sources that will allow for cost reductions. Another goal area deals with Cost Effectiveness and Cost Containment. We are studying a multitude of areas that have savings potential in order to reduce taxpayer increases.
School Safety represents the sixth goal area. We continue to work closely with the South Brunswick Police and the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office in designing practices that represent state-of-the-art safety behaviors. The final goal area includes a variety of important areas such as the revision of school policy, the creation of an Education Foundation and the conversion from the State-mandated Quality Assurance Annual Report to the new requirement, known as New Jersey Quality Single Accountability Continuum.
While this column is limited to providing a sampling of our ambitious goal areas and the supporting objectives, I hope you will review a complete listing of this initiative on our District Web site, www.sbschools.org.
As you read about our work, feel free to call me should you have any questions about South Brunswick School District. I welcome your inquiries.