The school is switching to next generation science standards and changed around its fifth grade schedule.
As the Shamong school district nears the beginning of the 2017–2018 school year, Superintendent Christine Vespe says students and parents can expect a few changes.
The main curriculum change for the upcoming year is the transition to next generation science standards. Typically in science class, students will learn about a particular subject and then conduct a lab to test their knowledge. The main idea of next generation science is to do the reverse — have the students conduct the lab first, and then learn about their findings after the fact.
“So maybe when you went to school you would learn all of the vocabulary, you would learn about [the science from a textbook] and then you would do your lab at the end,” Vespe said. “Now kids get to do a lab in the beginning and then try to figure out why and then learn what’s behind it.”
Another more minor curriculum change is the district’s decision to provide fifth graders with more time for language arts and math.
“We looked at some of our neighboring districts and what they were doing as far as their scheduling in fifth grade,” said Vespe, who noted Shamong’s fifth graders are in its middle school, which is unlike many other districts that typically have them in elementary schools. “The elementary school sometimes allows for more time in language arts or mathematics. They don’t have as many changes in class periods because our fifth graders were following a normal middle school schedule. So this year the principal has worked with the teachers on allowing more time to language arts and math so the kids can get a more in-depth working knowledge of [those subjects].”
On the construction front, the district approved plans to fund a new well pit on the grounds of Indian Mills Memorial School, which was part of the last bond referendum that failed in March. Because the referendum failed, the school now has to put the new well’s construction in its regular budget. The contract was awarded to West Bay Construction, which is completing the project for a $445,000 fee. The fee is considerably more than what the district was expecting to spend, according to the last bond referendum, which had the well pit’s expected cost at $280,000.
The district expects construction on the well to begin in October, and for it to be up and working by December.
The district also announced the hiring of two new teachers over the summer, both of whom will teach at the middle school. The first is music teacher Ruthie Stitt, and the second is Jessica Cardella, who will teach Spanish.
Perhaps the most important date that should be circled on the calendar for parents is the upcoming bond referendum vote, which totals $4.9 million and includes various projects the district intends to fix. The projects include the replacement of a generator, parking lot restoration, door access controls and, most expensively, fixing the HVAC system at Indian Mills Memorial Middle School.
The district plans to hold two information sessions on the bond referendum, both right before the district’s back to school nights. The first session will be Sept. 7 at 6 p.m. at Indian Mills Elementary and the second will be on Sept. 14 at 5:30 p.m. at Indian Mills Memorial Middle School. The sessions are expected to last approximately a half hour, and back to school night will commence immediately after both sessions at 6:30 p.m. on the 7th at the elementary school and 6 p.m. on the 14th at the middle school.