By Katrina Grant
At a recent meeting, the Tabernacle Board of Education set some goals for the upcoming school year.
Among the many goals the board would like to achieve is to become master board certified.
“The certification is called the Carol B. Larson Master Board Certification,” Superintendent George Rafferty said. “It requires seven out of nine board members to complete 10 additional training hours and the chief school administrator must attend the sessions.”
One of the most important goals that board set is to get more formal anti-bullying policies and procedures in place.
“The board feels very strongly that practices need to be in place for students, guidance counselors and teachers to deal with this in the best way possible,” Rafferty said.
The state Department of Education has put forth a harassment, intimidation and bullying policy that that the schools must adopt and implement by September.
“There are certain steps, procedures and strategies to put into place for this,” Rafferty said. “We want to be proactive and interacting with the students. Letting them know what is acceptable and unacceptable behavior. We also want to put some reporting mechanisms in place to address the issue.”
Each school district will be required to have a district level anti-bullying coordinator and each school has to have a school safety committee with specialists to deal with any complaints and review policies.
“This is huge, nothing that comprehensive has been implemented before,” Rafferty said. “This is an area that needs to be focused on.”
The board is also looking into forming its own anti-bullying ad hoc committee to review anti-bullying policies and procedures. They also want the committee to look into any curriculum and programs that are available to be used in the district.
Another big area that the board wants to focus on is teacher performance. The Department of Education is looking to link teacher performance to student performance and put some policies in place, but nothing has been implemented yet. Tabernacle Township decided it wanted to implement some of its own procedures for the district.
“The governor has a task force in place and wants to implement a statewide teacher evaluation, but nothing has been implemented yet,” Rafferty said. “We wanted to get some tools in place in-house to evaluate staff and measure effectiveness and see what areas need to be improved upon.”
The last goal Tabernacle wants to tackle is to get the Tabernacle Education Fund going again. The fund is raised by community members for areas of curriculum that can be enriched.
“When I first came here, there was no direction for the fund,” Rafferty said. “Some people approached me to see if we can get something going again with the fund. A few years back people wanted to create an outside classroom to study nature and the fund wanted to see how much that would cost to create, but nothing was ever formulated. Now people are talking about getting some education grants from it for teachers so that they don’t have to pay out-of-pocket for projects, so it would be beneficial to re-energize the group. We have some people that have the wills and the means to enhance the educational experience and the mechanism is not in place.”