Superintendent's Corner

September 1, 2015

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Welcome Back-Bernard F. Bragen, Jr. Superintendent of Schools

On behalf of the Board of Education and the Central Office Administrative Team, I welcome you to the start of the 2015-2016 School Year. We have many new and exciting things taking place this school year that are worthy of noting.

Leading our initiatives this school year is our one-to-one Chromebook Program at Raritan High School. Each student in grades 9-12 will receive a brand new Chromebook to use at both home and school for the duration of the school year. The instructional possibilities that this will create for our staff and students can truly transform our paradigm of instruction, expanding the learning environment well beyond the confines of the traditional school day. In addition, the creation of a Fabrication Lab at Raritan High School, which will allow students to plan, design and create items via a variety of media, is one more step in providing our students superlative educational experiences and skills for future successes. Raritan High School continues to set the standard for 21st Century Learning Institutions.

We will also be entering into our third year of implementation of our Long Range Strategic Plan developed via our Middle States District-Wide Accreditation process. At present, we remain the only school system in Monmouth County to achieve this distinction. We continue to progress in implementing many of the items listed in our Action Plans pertaining to our identified goals.

Due to the successful implementation of our Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID) program in grades 8 and 9 this past school year, we are expanding the program to grades 7 and 10 for the 2015-2016 school year. Additional staff members, including an additional guidance counselor at the Hazlet Middle School, were trained over the summer, and we are thrilled that the program can now be offered to even more students, preparing them for college readiness and success in a global society.

Facilities improvements this summer include the Fabrication Lab, HVAC improvements, special services office renovations and a new security system at Raritan High School. Hazlet Middle School received renovations to the guidance office, new benches in the front of the school and new curtains in the cafeteria. Lillian Drive School students will return to school with a new cafeteria. Raritan Valley School had all of its windows replaced and beautification to the front of the school. Beers Street School completed a renovated media center and computer lab, finalizing the renovations of all of the district media centers. Cove Road School received drainage and site improvements including the installation of new basketball equipment. Numerous minor renovations took place in all of the schools including lighting, doors, flooring, painting and classroom upgrades to provide optimal learning environments for our students.

Technology improvements include bandwidth upgrades increasing our internet access speed by 250%, new fiber backbone and increased wireless access points at Raritan High School, new computers in the Beers Street School Computer Lab and Lillian Drive School Media Center, new teacher computers at Beers Street School and Raritan Valley School, five new staff laptops at Hazlet Middle School, seven new Chromebook carts, SMART Boards and two SMART Tables at Sycamore Drive Early Childhood Learning Center, and three additional SMART Boards, 10 document cameras and an additional iPad cart at Middle Road School. Additionally, we have upgraded the district telephone system and firewall and replaced the core system running the entire network.

We are very excited about our multi-grade classroom being taught at Lillian Drive School. Students from across the district in grades 3 and 4 who wished to be a part of this program attended various meetings last school year to learn about this exciting opportunity. Each child in the class will receive a Chromebook to use throughout the course of the year, both in school and at home. Students in the multi-grade classroom will benefit from individualized instruction, allowing them to progress and advance at their own pace.

We have also relocated our lower grade Language and/or Learning Disabilities (Mild/Moderate) classroom to Raritan Valley School. Students involved in the program had previously moved between Lillian Drive School and Raritan Valley School after two years. This change will eliminate an additional transition for some of our most exceptional students and allow for collaboration among the classes. Additionally, the district has established a Language and/or Learning Disabilities (Severe) program to ensure that all students' needs are being met in the least restrictive environment.

Our teachers have been working hard on writing and revising over thirty curricula for the 2015-2016 school year, including curricula to accompany our new math series, enVision Math 2.0, in kindergarten through grade 5. We have revised our kindergarten through grade 6 Spanish curricula and made many updates to other World Language curricula. Raritan High School has added many new elective courses for students in the areas of English, math and science, as well as technology and the fine arts.

Hazlet Middle School will be hosting Rachel’s Challenge, a program for both our middle school students and teachers to learn more about bullying and how to end it.

Additionally, the district will be partnering with Springboard Media for some exciting professional development opportunities on November 11, 2015 and throughout the school year. Our teachers who work with our ESL/ELL population will receive training that focuses on specific instructional strategies for these students.

These additions and improvements represent the continued commitment of the Board of Education and school community to provide the best educational programming for our students, and not just accept the status quo.

We look forward to continuing our partnership with our parent community and working together to achieve our district’s mission of Educating our students…to achieve their maximum potential. As always, if I can be of assistance to you at any time, please do not hesitate to contact me. I wish you and your child(ren) much success as we begin the new school year.

On behalf of the Board of Education and District Administrative Team, I extend best wishes for a productive and healthy school year!

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