Harrison board of education previews new website, accepts resignation of longtime employee

Come Nov. 1, the district will have both a new website and a new chief academic officer.

Andrew Davis is sticking to education and taking his 12 years of experience at the Harrison Township School District, to the Audubon School District where he will be the new superintendent (Krystal Nurse/The Sun).

By KRYSTAL NURSE

The Sun

At the Oct. 29 board of education meeting in Pleasant Valley Elementary School, the Harrison Township School District’s board of education was given a preview of the district’s new website and said goodbye to Andrew Davis, chief academic officer.

The planned Nov. 1 launch of the new website, as Superintendent Margaret “Missy” Peretti stated following the presentation, was one of the goals the district aimed to accomplish. Peretti added it also helps the district move forward with its rebranding effort.

“On behalf of myself, the community, and everyone, I’d like to thank Mr. (Chad) Flexon, (Shawn) Shenk, (John) Berkett and (John) Trussell and all of the individual staff members involved in this project,” said Peretti. “It moved quicker than what we expected it to do. From the board of education’s perspective, it’s a reminder that this was one of our goals for the year. Not only did we upgrade the website, but also the full branding of the district.”

The launch was originally scheduled for New Year’s Day, but was moved up after several meetings with educational technology company Blackboard, which helped create and hosts the website.

Flexon anchored the presentation of the website, describing to the board members and those present at the meeting the work that was put into the new website and how the four teachers were able to convey messages from the district and its schools to the community.

Once users visit the new website, which is located at the same domain www.harrisontwp.k12.nj.us, they will be greeted with an aerial footage of Harrison Township and Pleasant Valley elementary schools, the board of education building, Harmony Fire Company and other prominent landmarks within Harrison Township.

“Everything will be housed on the new website with a responsive design to utilize the website properly for mobile phones,” said Flexon. “All of our feeds are embedded into the website along with our calendar, Twitter and other things such.”

Mobile devices will have still images in an effort to conserve data usage.

“The one thing we are extremely proud about is the district directory that has every single staff member that has an email, are available in the directory and can be found by the grade that they teach,” added Flexon.

Further in the meeting, Peretti also highlighted the district’s success in having students place above the state average in the PARCC (Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers) testing results in the “meeting grade level expectations” and “exceeding grade level expectation” sections.

“We always like to see where our students are compared to the state mean,” said Peretti. “You’ll see that areas in grades third through sixth where, compared to the state mean, we are beating them in level four and five assessments. The goal is that our numbers in levels four and five are higher than the state, and numbers in level one, two and three are lower than the state.”

Levels one through three in the PARCC results vary from not yet meeting expectations, to approaching expectations, according to the state’s department of education.

Peretti and two others, as well as Davis himself, spoke on the resignation of Davis from his position as the chief academic officer.

Davis, Peretti said, highlighted his achievements in redefining the district’s code of conduct, helping the district go wireless and to schedule students in a way where classrooms are made up of kids who work with one another.

“He has made it so that, the word he used, ‘rigor’ has stuck with us and made us all do some of the things that we do,” said Michelle Fox, physical education teacher. “It makes us realize that reaching the kids is an important job.”

“I just want to thank the board and the whole school community for giving me the opportunity to serve in the past 15 years,” said Davis. “I never really felt I was going to work. I always felt I was coming to another home.”

Davis will be the superintendent at the Audubon School District, effective Nov. 1.

Following a brief recess into executive session, the board publicly disclosed that Lisa Heenan was approved to be the new chief academic officer, effective Nov. 1, to fill Davis’ position. She will also be a temporary affirmative action officer from Oct. 30 to Nov. 9 (unpaid), to cover for Peretti while she is out.

The next board of education meeting will be held on Nov. 19 in the media room of Pleasant Valley School at 7 p.m.