The New Milford School Board recently convened to discuss a broad array of topics, including student safety, a proposed European culinary arts trip to France in 2024, updates on school incidents and suspensions, and the acquisition of a High Impact Tutoring Grant. The climate of the meeting was primarily focused on enhancing the student experience and addressing serious concerns raised by members of the public.
Opening the meeting, a concerned parent voiced frustration over the lack of response to their daughter’s reported assault and threat of rape by another student. The parent criticized the school’s delayed response and questioned the grounds for suspending a student under such circumstances. Superintendent Danielle Shanley responded, explaining the specific timelines for reporting, investigating, and notifying parents of outcomes. She assured the parent that the incident was taken seriously and emphasized that not all details could be shared due to privacy reasons. The board agreed to address the matter privately and provide a response at a later date.
In a positive turn of events, Mrs. Biner presented a proposal for a European culinary arts trip to France in 2024, involving eighth-grade, freshman, sophomore, and junior students. The trip aims to provide students with firsthand experience of French culture and culinary practices. The board engaged in a discussion over logistics, travel insurance, and fundraising efforts, requesting additional information about deposit deadlines and the necessity of securing a nurse for students with medical needs.
Superintendent Shanley provided a report on suspensions and incidents in schools for October. The high school experienced two days of in-school suspensions, while the middle school had seven in-school suspensions and one out-of-school suspension. Moreover, there were several confirmed and unconfirmed incidents of harassment, intimidation, and bullying (HIB) across the district’s schools. The board members acknowledged the report without further debate.
Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction, Lauren Doep, provided an update on various assessments and programs, including the interview assessment, which identifies students’ cognitive abilities in verbal and quantitative reasoning. The assessment, previously suspended due to COVID-19, resumed in the fall for students in grades 1 through 4. Doep also mentioned the NJPA assessment for students who hadn’t met graduation proficiency, with official performance reports to be published by December 6th.
Doep shared exciting news about the district’s successful application for the NJDOE’s High Impact Tutoring Grant. The district was eligible for an award amount of $115,000, focusing on third and fourth-grade students who may have experienced learning disruptions due to COVID-19. The grant’s spending period was clarified to likely extend until September 2024.
Planning for the 2024-2025 school year was discussed, with teams across all grade levels set to review existing programming, course offerings, and potential new courses. The curriculum will be aligned with newly adopted standards in English language arts and math.
A member of the public voiced concerns about safety and communication within the school system, expressing frustration over the lack of response from school officials to their concerns. This sentiment seemed to echo the concerns raised by the parent at the beginning of the meeting, underlining a district-wide need for improved communication.