With the September 5 start of the 2018-2019 school year drawing near, I wanted to take a moment to extend to you my warmest welcome to what promises to be another exciting and innovative year here in Point Pleasant Schools.
New curriculum initiatives and academic programs await our approximately 2,800 students upon their return to school; at the elementary level, the coming year will see the continued implementation of the Next Generation Science Standards as well as the continued integration of Reader’s and Writer’s Workshop. At the middle and high school, students will benefit from new mathematics program, enVision 2.0 while high school students will have more opportunities to earn college credit from a new dual enrollment agreement with Ocean County College that allows our students to earn their associates degree concurrently with their high school diploma!
District administration, faculty and staff are hard at work this summer, readying their classrooms and themselves for the coming year. Though summer is often regarded as a time for rest and relaxation, that is not the case for district staff, who spend the summer months prepping for our students’ return.
Though no students are present, school has remained in session for many of our teachers, who are taking part in some of the district’s summer professional development workshops. This summer’s professional learning opportunities include a focus on ensuring the seamless transition to the enVision 2.0 math program for grades 6-12; continued training on the Reader’s and Writer’s Workshop model; workshops to support differentiated learning for all students; continued mindfulness training to provide strategies for teachers and students to manage anxiety and stress; and mental health and well-being training for teachers and students that support positive behaviors and provide a toolbox to identify and respond to mental health disorders. Additional technology-themed workshops have been offered to educate our teachers on the use of supplemental programs and tools to help streamline classroom instruction and make for a more effective and efficient learning experience.
District facilities have also undergone some noted improvements this summer with regular maintenance and work on various capital improvements and renovation projects. Among this summer’s projects are the replacement of classroom lighting at the high school and of hallway lighting at the middle, high school and Nellie Bennett as well as renovations to the middle school locker rooms and the Ocean Road kindergarten restrooms.
In addition to the cosmetic improvements being made to our facilities, safety remains a top priority in the district and, as such, our administration, working with safety experts, will continue to assess our school buildings and apply necessary safety improvements.
As a reminder, Point Pleasant residents will head to the polls on Election Day, November 6, to vote to approve a ballot question appropriating an additional $198,000 for General Funds for the 2018-2019 school year. The purpose of these funds will be used to cover the costs for four full-time municipality police officers to provide security in the Point Pleasant School District during normal school hours. Approval of the question will result in a permanent increase in the district’s tax levy.
If the question is approved, officers will remain in district schools for the coming year and into the future; however, if it’s voted down, the district will not be able to fund the expenditure to keep the officers in schools.
While the coming school year is sure to give rise to additional opportunities, it has also brought some unique challenges following the Board of Education-approved plan to revise the 2018-19 budget due to the loss of over $360,000 in State Aid. This loss of State Aid has been especially difficult to implement because it’s been levied against the district’s 2018-19 budget, which was approved on April 30, 2018. On July 13, 2018, the district was notified that not only would we not receive the $211,000 Aid increase that the State pledged to the district prior to the passage of the 2018-19 budget but also an additional $153,599 for a total Aid loss of $364,599 for the coming school year. Central administration along with the business office and Board of Education have worked closely to ensure that the revisions to the budget have been applied in the most prudent manner and with the least impact on students; however, the loss of State Aid is sure to pose a number of future challenges to the district’s already austere budgeting procedures as it is likely to continue for the next seven years.
Regardless of these or any unforeseen challenges, our staff knows how to overcome changing demands. When last minutes challenges arise, we formulate a plan and execute it – these are skills we model to our students to help them understand that changes are a part of life and that despite them, we are prepared for a new year, ready to achieve and perform to the best of our ability.
On behalf of Central Administration, the Board of Education, our faculty and staff, I’d like to welcome you to the 2018-19 school year. Enjoy the remaining weeks of summer. We’ll see you on September 5!