Middletown School Board Advances Strategic Goals and Infrastructure Investments

In a recent gathering, the Middletown School Board addressed significant strategic plan advancements and infrastructure investments, emphasizing student success, equity, personalized learning, community partnerships, financial stability, and infrastructure stewardship. Superintendent Jessica Alfone provided an extensive update on the district’s progress, including a discussion on social-emotional support programs and the importance of a restorative approach to discipline. The board also prioritized financial stability, discussing state aid reductions, additional funding avenues, and a potential referendum for facility improvements. Notably, the board approved the appointment of Mr. Kevin Cullen as the assistant superintendent of curriculum, instruction, and special services, and a new principal for High School North.

The meeting opened with a moment of silence to honor the recent losses within the school community, followed by updates on student and staff achievements. The spotlight then turned to the strategic plan’s first goal, which centers on student success and social-emotional wellness. The board underscored initiatives like partnerships with Effective School Solutions and the YMCA for counseling support, professional development on trauma-informed care, and parent sessions on social-emotional wellness. Superintendent Alfone highlighted the district’s therapy dog program and the implementation of tiered intervention models.

Alfone further detailed the district’s focus on personalized learning, which includes partnerships with Rutgers University and the implementation of early literacy and dyslexia screeners, as well as professional development through the I-Ready and U World programs. The upcoming freshman Frontiers program was also mentioned, which will assist freshmen in making informed decisions regarding their educational pathways.

Professional development for teachers, particularly in reading and writing, received positive feedback, as did plans for equity between the high schools through the Arts Pathways program. The board’s commitment to foundational literacy was evident in their goal to have all K-2 teachers trained in the Orton Gillingham program by the next school year. Community partnerships were also a focus, with successful collaboration between the district, Middletown Public Library, Middletown Community Alliance, and the Parent University Series.

Financial stability and infrastructure investment were topics, with the board discussing the impact of state aid reductions and the importance of securing additional funds. The board revealed plans for a districtwide master facilities assessment and a future facilities referendum. The replacement project of the Middletown High School North track and turf field was highlighted, with the board noting a cost reduction from $1,967,000 to $1,028,000.

The board also addressed the health insurance budget in light of rising healthcare costs and discussed the upcoming 2024-25 budget, with the intention to work through committees to finalize the proposal. They also touched on a random drug and alcohol policy, which was tabled for further discussion, and provided updates on litigation from the state regarding a policy amendment.

The meeting included a public comment period on gender items, which saw no participation, and recognized January as New Jersey School Board Recognition Month. The board also discussed the development of the school calendar for the 2024-25 year, special education forums, and the positive response to the elementary parent-teacher conference survey.

Additionally, the meeting featured updates from PTAs on community events and fundraisers, and student representatives discussed the impact of school closures on food access during snow days. A public comment was made regarding the sale of the former Port Monmouth Elementary School property, with a community member seeking further information.

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.

Jessica Alfone
School Board Officials:
Frank Capone, Jacqueline Tobacco, Leonora Caminiti, Kate Farley, Joseph Fitzgerald, Joan Minnuies, Caterina Skalaski, Gary Tulp, Deborah Wright

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