1. If a number
of more experienced educators in the district retire this year, what will you
consider to be the most important requirements for new hires?
The most important
requirement for new hires is that they be able to meet the educational needs of
the students. The superintendent will recommend candidates she feels meet those
needs and it will be the board's job to approve the money to hire them and to
pay for any professional development that the superintendent feels necessary to
blend them into the Metuchen school system. Generally, when new teachers are
being hired, their certifications, experience, education, and interviews are
the main factors. It is a bonus when new hires can teach more than one type of
class because that gives the district flexibility in planning course offerings
and adjusting to changes in state core curriculum requirements.
2. What do you think
will be the role of guidance counselors in the district? Is there a benefit to
providing guidance to kids regarding their academic progress well before they
enter high school?
The role of guidance
counselors is and will continue to be different in the High School and Edgar
due to the different ages and needs of the students in the two schools. In the
early years at Edgar, the guidance counselors have an important role helping
students adjust to life as middle schoolers. In eighth grade, the counselors
assist the students and their families in selecting courses for high school. In
the high school, the guidance counselors assist the students in planning for
post-high school life. For most Metuchen students, this means being guided
through the college application process, but may sometimes mean help planning
for vocational training, a job, or the military. The guidance counselors at
both Edgar and the High School are also involved in helping students with
educational, disciplinary and personal problems that may arise.
This past year, I have
been a member of the Curriculum Committee. In the Curriculum Committee, there
has been discussion of instituting a 6th through 12th grade guidance curriculum which is currently being developed by the
guidance staff. Beginning the formal guidance process in middle school can help
students and their families plan for the high school course of study that will
lead them to the post-high school plan they desire. Beginning the guidance
process in middle school also help students develop a sense of career awareness
earlier in life and gives them an understanding of the importance of
co-curricular activities in high school.
3. What structural
improvements on the district schools are of the utmost priority now, with
overcrowding at Campbell and a growing population of young families in town?
It has been a number of
years since the district had a demographic study to predict the future
enrollment. I am not sure these studies have been very reliable when we have
Enrollment can swell and
decrease in waves. While the kindergarten class of 2009-10 was unusually large
and required 8 sections, this year's kindergarten class is a more typical 137
students, with 6 sections, as has been the size of most kindergartens since
2000. It remains to be seen if the district is experiencing a long-lasting
enrollment increase, as opposed to a temporary increase. A lot may depend
on the size of the kindergarten class of 2011-12.
The Campbell population is
about 40 more students than when the two classroom addition was put on the
school about 6 years ago, but about 30 of those students can be accounted for
with the large first grade in there now. If it is determined that
enrollment is on a long-term uptick, I am sure a number of ideas will be
considered by the Superintendent, the Board, and the public. Ideas that were
considered in years past included moving the Board of Education offices to
rental space so there would be room to move first grade to Moss School, or
adding on to Campbell School. The taxpayers of Metuchen have generously
supported the schools with two major referenda to improve and expand our
buildings in the past 15 years. With this in mind, I would consider any further
referendum to be an option of last resort.
Other than issues of limited
space at Campbell, the schools are in pretty good shape because a pro-active
maintenance plan has been in place for a number of years. In the past few years
there have been major roof replacements and repairs, window replacements, and
parking lot re-pavement at various schools.
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