Highland Park School Board Tackles Sustainability, Curriculum, and Facility Issues

In a recent Highland Park School Board meeting, numerous issues were addressed, with sustainability efforts, curriculum advancement, and facility matters taking center stage. Key discussions revolved around the district’s re-certification as a member of the Sustainable Jersey for Schools program, the introduction of new school courses, the District Performance Report (DPR), and the pressing need to address facility issues, including preschool expansion.

The School Board began by spotlighting their sustainability efforts, earning praise from a representative from C Jersey. The representative commended the board’s commitment to the Sustainable Jersey certification, emphasizing the importance of schools in addressing sustainability issues, particularly in the areas of food waste. Tracy Ma and the Green Team were recognized for their dedication to sustainability, which has brought the district close to achieving the Silver level of certification.

Superintendent Dr. Kristina Nicosia took the stage next, requesting a resolution to submit the district’s DPR, an annual quality assurance report. This process involves a self-assessment by the district, followed by a review by the New Jersey Department of Education. After her address, the meeting moved on to committee reports and agenda items.

The Curriculum Instruction Committee detailed the Advanced Learning (AL) program, addressing concerns regarding inclusivity and implementation. The program meets state requirements and includes a schoolwide enrichment model for all grades, utilizing multiple measures of assessment. The committee also discussed course proposals for zoology, animal behavior, and environmental science, explaining the distinction between regular, honors, and honors distinction courses.

Dr. Monique Coleman presented an outline of the middle and high school advisory groups. These groups focus on issues such as goal-setting, communication, kindness, self-control, conflict resolution, academic mindset, and leadership building. The advisory meetings provide students with a safe environment to share challenges and experiences.

The meeting also covered the IMPACT program, aimed at creating a positive culture in school. The program was assessed using discipline and attendance data, and the board discussed a rise in incidents occurring mostly at the middle school playground after school.

Professional development on responsive classroom practices has been offered district-wide since the spring of 2023. The board requested follow-up on the implementation of professional development training and discussed the need for staff to implement advisory groups.

Facility matters were also addressed, including progress on modular classrooms and the after-school daycare program. The board discussed the possibility of mini-camps in January and explored certification options based on upcoming regulations. However, the topic of preschool expansion presented some hurdles, with the property at 112 RAR not yet in a redevelopment track, causing complications for a 30-year lease. The board deliberated on potential solutions, such as relocating programs and updating the long-range plan, to address the needs of the district.

Lastly, the board talked about the need for a health insurance broker and discussed a generous donation of $446,000 from the athletic boosters to renovate the baseball fields. The meeting also addressed grants and funding opportunities and covered personnel matters, including the hiring of new staff members and volunteers.

Note: This meeting summary was generated by AI, which can occasionally misspell names, misattribute actions, and state inaccuracies. This summary is intended to be a starting point and you should review the meeting record linked above before acting on anything you read. If we got something wrong, let us know. We’re working every day to improve our process in pursuit of universal local government transparency.

Superintendent:
Dr. Kristina Nicosia
School Board Officials:
Marilyn Pruce, Allison Casal-Dunn, Dan Battey, Dr. Monique Coleman, Anne Gowen, Michelle McFadden-Dinicola, Robert Roslewicz, Ann Vardeman, Jennifer Voorhees, Roy Crosbie (Student Representative), Andrew Dalton (Student Representative)

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