School Board Advances Diverse Initiatives Amid Busy Start to School Year

In a recent New Milford School Board meeting, Superintendent Danielle Shanley led a detailed discussion outlining various developments and plans for the New Milford school district. High on the agenda were reports on the recent success of the annual Harassment, Intimidation, and Bullying (HIB) initiatives, the commendable achievement of student Dylan Harris, the planned infrastructure improvements, and the launch of the New Wilford High School Alumni website.

The board reported a fruitful start to the 2022 academic year, emphasizing no HIB reports concerning school transportation. Significant recognition went to high school senior Dylan Harris for being accepted into the exclusive New Jersey Symphony Orchestra, a privilege extended to only five individuals. In the same vein, the high school orchestra earned the honor of performing at the annual Ball Teacher’s Leadership Retreat.

Danielle Shanley celebrated the board’s certification by the New Jersey School Boards Association, signifying their commitment to professional development. The board also discussed their selection by the New Jersey Department of Education for a high school health survey to be undertaken in the fall. Looking ahead, an extensive lineup of community and educational events were previewed, including the inaugural “coffee with the superintendent and special guest” virtual session, “New Milford Thanks Day,” and a comedy night fundraiser.

Individual schools provided updates, noting the successful initiation of the academic year and detailing specific events fostering community and engagement. Notably, Berkeley school is planning an inaugural parent academy and leveraging the Title I grant for further developmental programs.

A major structural change discussed was the consolidation of lunch services by removing a second-floor kiosk that served a limited number of students. The move is aimed at enhancing the dining experience, offering a more diverse menu, and addressing logistical issues, including the burden on the custodial staff. The enhancement of cafeteria services has faced delays, but the board anticipates a resolution shortly.

Technological advancements were prominent in the discussion, with the distribution of new Chromebooks and the setup of Mac studios in the high school digital lab, financed through S/4 funding. Transitioning to the user-friendly Genesis system for administrative management is underway, despite initial hurdles.

Infrastructure improvements were discussed extensively, focusing on the substantial funding received for critical projects including a new high school roof and overhauling several HVAC systems. The need to kickstart these projects by summer 2024 was emphasized, considering the escalating costs and lead time for equipment procurement.

The session touched on student assessments and high-impact tutoring initiatives to support students affected by the pandemic. This included the re-introduction of the InView cognitive abilities assessment for younger students and the upcoming New Jersey Graduation Proficiency Assessment (NJ GPA) targeted at helping specific student categories meet graduation requirements.

The board highlighted cost savings achieved through the internalization of the transportation system, which also fostered community among students. However, concerns arose regarding the financial implications of a new law enacted by Governor Murphy extending the definition of sick leave.

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