Administrators prep for successful new year

By AUBRIE GEORGE | Marlton Telegram

As children and parents are running around to make sure they have all their back-to-school fashion and school supply needs in check, school district administrators, teachers and staff have long been preparing for a successful 2009–10 school year. With the days of summer numbered, Superintendent of Evesham K-8 Public Schools Patricia Lucas, and Superintendent of the Lenape Regional High School District Emily Capella both offered a glimpse into what students and parents can expect as they prepare to get back into the swing of things this school year.

Question and answer with Patricia Lucas, superintendent of Evesham k-8 Public Schools:

Is there anything new with the curriculum in the district?

The Curriculum Department has been involved in a number of activities this summer in preparation for the upcoming school year. Projects have been on-going since the end of June and will continue until Sept. 1. Supervisors, teachers and administrators have worked hard to enhance our instructional program offerings for students in the 2009–2010 school year.

Professional development projects have been implemented in a variety of areas:

n Social Studies teachers in Grades 5–8 participated in professional development as part of the Alice Paul Regional Grant Program.

n New teachers are participating in literacy and mathematics institutes in August.

n Pre-School teachers have received training in new integrated curriculum materials and assessments.

n Professional learning community facilitators in each elementary school met to receive additional strategies in preparation for their work with teacher-members in the upcoming school year.

n Training in use of reading strategies for selected special education programs has been conducted.

n Tier Three coordinators have participated in articulation meetings to plan workshops for the fall.

n District administrators participated in seminars in school law, school safety and school leadership.

Several curriculum development projects have been underway this summer as well:

n Curriculum revisions have been initiated in Language Arts Literacy and Science and have been continued in Physical Education.

n Grade level teams from each school have worked on revision of social studies units.

n Middle school music teachers have developed new units of study.

n ELL staff have met to review the state guidelines for English Proficiency standards and to revise program implementation to meet those standards.

n Teachers of multiply-disabled and autism program are working to coordinate and integrate functional skills into their curriculum.

Have there been

any major changes

with the school schedule?

No, there have not been any changes to the schedule.

Could you talk about

improvements made

to district facilities?

We completed two roofing projects that were possible because of a state grant that provided us with 40 percent of the funding for the project. We are also finishing installing lighting sensors that turn off lights when the rooms are not occupied. This will save the district in energy costs.

Have there been any

changes in rules and regulations for the district?

Not this year.

What do you most look forward to this school year?

I am looking forward to all of the students and teachers returning for another school year. We are very busy during the summer months, but I always miss going into the classrooms and seeing the children. They are the best part of this job.

n n n

The foundation for the 2009–10 school year at LRHSD’s schools involves implementation of the district’s long-range plan as well as several new innovative programs — all operated under a sensible budget, Capella said.

This year will mark the first full school year under the district’s long-range plan. The long-range plan, which was adopted by the board of education in Dec. 2008, uses a series of action plans that aim to further the district’s progression in areas such as technology, curriculum development, staff development and others over the next four to five years.

Capella said a number of shared services initiatives as well as participation in several government programs are some of the ways the district is planning to realize savings and keeps costs down during the school year.

One of those shared services programs includes the consolidation of banking services with LRHSD’s eight sending districts, Capella said. Earlier this summer, the districts awarded a three-year contract to Beneficial Bank in order to share banking services that will increase financial efficiency while not hindering individual services for each district in the region, Capella said.

Another shared services initiative involves sharing transportation with the Southampton Township public school district. Capella said that under the agreement, Southampton would consolidate its elementary and middle schools schedules in order to enable the LRHSD to transport the pre K through 8th grade students. As a result, the district will realize about $357,070 in savings and there will be no impact on daily instructional time, middle school athletics or extracurricular activities.

The consolidation of trash collection services in five school districts within the region — LRHSD, Evesham Township, Medford Lakes Borough, Mount Laurel Township and Shamong — will result in savings as well, Capella said

In addition, the district will see savings through participation in programs, such as the Burlington County Joint Insurance Fund, which will save the district $70,813 and a joint purchasing for education data services that will save the district about $430,099.

Participation in the Federal E Rate Program will save the district about $120,914 and the use of ACT Telecommunications will save the district about $18,200, Capella said.

Additional new programs will be implemented district-wide and at individual schools this year including the Option Two program, which allows students to earn high school credits while serving their communities.

Under the program, students can earn five elective credits for completion of the 120 hour Emergency Medical Technician-Basic course for EMT certification.

The course is offered at a number of local venues and provides thorough instruction on patient assessment and the administration of basic life support.

Students can earn five additional credits if they use their certification to volunteer on a local emergency squad.

Thanks to a grant from the United States Navy, the district is able to implement a Naval Junior ROTC program at Cherokee High School this year.

Under the program, every student is eligible to earn five credits during each year they attend Cherokee. To lead the course, Cherokee has acquired retired Marine Major Rory F. Meehan and retired Navy Chief Barry M. Harvey who will work as advisors.

A pilot program that uses iPods Touches in the classroom will launch at all of the district’s schools in anticipation of using the devices to meet both New Jersey’s 21st century skills initiative and the goals of the LRHSD Long Range Plan, Capella said.

Teachers involved in implementing iPod Touches in their classrooms this year were given a five-day training course where they were taught the basics of operating the device, how to produce podcasts, what applications are available and how they can be used in the classroom, how to use the Internet through the device, and what kinds of lessons they can create using the tools.

In addition to the new programs and services, Capella said the district would continue to build and sustain partnerships with families and communities through its Ambassador Programs. Cherokee students also have a new synthetic turf field to look forward to, which, Capella said, will be ready for play this fall for athletics and activities.