Harrison Township schools look to the new year

Superintendent cites positive recovery from COVID

The Harrison Township School District, which includes Harrison Township Elementary, will take on 2022 under Superintendent Missy Peretti’s leadership.

The Harrison Township School District is ready to take on 2022.

“We are continuing the road to a very positive recovery from the effects that COVID had on our public-education experience,” Superintendent Missy Peretti said. “We’re continuing to focus on ensuring that we’re providing support for the kids and try to bridge any gaps, whether that be in their academic development, social and emotional learning and interactions with students and teachers.”

The district’s curriculum will include new programs that its board of education sought to strengthen math instruction and material from kindergarten through sixth grade. Two math programs are in discussion, and a choice is yet to be made on which one will be implemented in September 2022.

New technology is expected to keep students engaged, including Chromebooks that students and teachers used during COVID. They will continue to be part of the district’s curriculum.

State aid reductions are likely, according to Peretti. The 2020-’21 school year saw $280,409 cut from the district’s budget. A similar figure is expected for the next year and until fiscal year 2025.

“We started planning for this in 2018, which was even before the pandemic hit, so we’re able to plan long term to ensure that we’re giving the kids what they need for the year, even during these difficult financial times,” she explained.

While budget cuts are expected, the superintendent promised no cuts will be made to student or academic programs and there will be no decrease in faculty and staff.

“Anything can change, but it’s particularly important on the elementary level that obviously our first priority is going to be student programming, especially coming out of the pandemic but even before that,” Peretti noted.

“That’s always been our focus.”

The district plans to keep class sizes at about 20 kids per teacher, even with incoming budget cuts. That way, teachers can focus on the individual needs of students.

While some events like the middle-school graduation were held outdoors last spring, indoor activities like choir concerts, art shows and the annual culture fair had to be cancelled because of COVID. But Peretti plans to revive those events.

“We’re really focusing on providing those experiences this year,” she said. “We already had the book fair, holiday and cultural celebrations are happening again in the classrooms under the health department’s guidelines, and moving forward, we’re looking to reimplement our concerts, field days and field trips.”

More information on incoming events and other issues can be found on the district’s website.