As the district is in the midst of cuts to its state aid, Superintendent Glenn Robbins said teachers are thrilled to start the new school year with major changes to come, namely in communications and professional development.
In the near future, the school district will be rolling out an app to streamline communication to parents. Robbins said the app will help parents get information for and about the school in one, unified location instead of “coming in from different directions.”
The app, he added, will host student schedules, grades, lunch, bus schedules and routes, and also district items such as supply lists, sport schedules, social media accounts and anything else that appears on the website.
“If there’s a snow day or a teacher sends out a notification, it comes up as an app notification,” he said. “Any pictures on the website go on the app, and it ties in everything that we have. The goal is for parents to have full connectivity with the district.”
Robbins said parents who do not wish to download the app will still be notified on notifications or emails teachers send out to emails provided upon student registration. Closings will still come in through text, if a parent has signed up for it.
Launch of the app is dependent on when the operating systems approve it. It will be free to download on Apple and Google Play.
In an effort to branch out to other districts, Robbins said Kenneth Olson Middle School will be the home of a state conference, Rewire, available free of charge to all educators in the state on Oct. 4 and 5.
“As a superintendent with family in the district and in another district, we’re all losing money, and I have to find a way to invest in them in various ways,” he said. “By our education foundation working with OnCourse, we have that money to go ahead and get top-of-the-line speakers that show teachers, administrators and board members different ways to work with the district and in a school, free of charge.”
OnCourse is sponsoring the event, and the Education Foundation of Tabernacle Township is supporting the initiative.
He added there will be more than 20 speakers at the conference to teach equity and equality. More information about the conference is available by visiting Sites.Google.com/TabSchools.org/Rewire/home.
Another conference will be occurring on Sept. 21, called the N.J. Council of Teachers of English, free of charge to Tabernacle teachers ($35 registration fee for others), for ways they can use literature to address mental health and empower students, among other things. To learn more information about the conference, visit www.NJCTE.org.
Other updates expected to come to the district are renovations to Kenneth Olson’s Nutrition Avenue courtyard to convert it to an outdoor classroom and eating area, and further connecting students to the Pinelands National Reserve, and Tabernacle, through teachers’ connections, projects and field trips.
“We are very excited for this upcoming school year,” he said. “We have amazing teachers, staff, kids and community. But we all need to work together in that we are still losing state funding.”
He added parents need to continue contacting their local and state representatives regarding the state aid formula to encourage them to rework it to help districts without harming the kids.
“We had a number of people get upset over the decisions we had to make, and we’re open to all cost-saving ideas,” he said. “We’re expected to lose close to $600,000 this upcoming year, and we’re open to ideas.”