District ‘moving in the right direction’

Board uses April meeting to reflect on district standing as school year winds down.

The school year is nearly up, and the Moorestown school district is reflecting on a year that was unlike any other. 

Carole Butler, director of curriculum and instruction, provided those in attendance at the April 27 board of education meeting with a “spring check-in” on how students are faring.

“Ninety percent of students are doing well,” she said. 

Butler stressed that overall, there’s a sense of calm in the buildings as both students and teachers fall into a more familiar routine. 

“Everyone is feeling a sense of relief,” she added.

One of the primary tools the district utilizes to keep an eye on students are report cards. Butler said in speaking with the district principal, there has been an ebb and flow taking place with periods where students are struggling and times where they are not. 

According to Butler, students at the Upper Elementary School experienced a period of struggle but have since rebounded, with grades in the third marking period at a typical range for this time of the year. Over at William Allen Middle School, however, there is “a strong frustration” with some remote students not putting in as much effort, Butler reported.

She noted that while the majority of students are still doing well in unusual times, there are supports in place for students who are struggling. Each school in the district has an Intervention and Referral Service team, or “I” Team, that consists of principals, teachers and counselors.

The teams usually meet on a monthly basis, but this year, they’ve been meeting closer to every two weeks to ensure that any student experiencing some sort of fluctuation in schooling or with any kind of need, is being heard from. Students who miss 15 or more days are also referred to their school’s “I” Team.

Once someone is referred, the team creates an action plan for the student that is discussed with him or her as well as with parents and the student’s teacher to ensure he or she receives the proper support. 

At the lower levels, virtual tutoring sessions take place on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons. At the high-school level, if a student is struggling, he or she is encouraged to attend 12th period,  where extra help is available.

Next week, a committee will meet to begin discussions on what next year will look like: As of now, the plan is for five day, full-time school starting on Sept. 8.

Superintendent Scott McCartney, who will retire this summer, said the process of how to bring students back to school ful -time will take some time and discussion in the months ahead.

 

In other news:

 

  • The board passed its 2021-2022 budget with a tax increase. The average home valued at $457,793 will see an annual tax increase of $99.34.

The district’s 2.29 percent tax levy exceeds the 2 percent tax levy cap. It is able to do so by also utilizing $190,000 of banked cap that is then included in the tax levy. The proposed levy will net the district approximately $67.2 million, a $1,504,573 increase from the previous year. 

The district anticipates around $4.4 million in state aid, a $484,264 increase compared with the district’s 2020-2021 adjusted state aid. 

The budget passed in an 8 to 1 vote, with board member Mark Villanueva as the sole “no” vote. 

 

  • The deadline for applications for the interim superintendent position has passed, and the board received 14 resumes. Board President Caryn Shaw said members will interview potential candidates in May. 

The board is currently seeking an interim superintendent who will serve between six months and one year. Shaw said the board plans to hire a search firm to help with a permanent choice. A firm has not yet been selected. 

 

  • The board’s May meeting will be held in person on Tuesday, May 18. The location has yet to be determined.