Jackson School District Changing, Sets Goals

A recent presentation of “The State of the Schools” shows a change of demographics within the school district in the last decade. (Photo by Bob Vosseller)

JACKSON – The township Board of Education recently joined its district education leaders in reviewing its performance through a “State of the Schools” presentation.

The presentation focused on curriculum and student achievement along with the township’s changing demographics, which was also noted as a factor in state testing results.

The state PARCC results showed areas of strength and areas that required more focus toward student needs in the district. PARCC is a standardized test that stands for Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers.

Results examined student population changes over the last decade which showed a small rise in Asian students from 244 students in June of 2008 to 246 in June 2018, a decline of African American students of 594 in 2008 to 486 in 2018 and an increase of Hispanic students from 568 a decade ago to 1,124 this year.

White students numbered 8,218 in 2008 that figure is now 6,206 in 2018.

“I see our becoming more diverse as a great thing,” Superintendent of Schools Dr. Stephen Genco said.

The figure for economically disadvantaged in the district jumped from 977 to 1,812 within the last 10 years, according to the presentation, whereas special education students declined from 1,533 to currently 1,333.

Photo by Bob Vosseller

English language learners increased from 57 to 168 since 2008.

The district’s 2018-2019 goals in the area of curriculum and student achievement include implementing a new grade 6-12 math program, media/technology program for kindergarten to 12th grade, a business program for 9-12th grade, and a family and consumer science program for 6th-12th graders.

Among the district’s goals is a plan to expand its in-class resource for third graders and to continue efforts to increase awareness of student mental health. That plan includes implementing student mental health curriculum and procedures. The district will also monitor implementation and progress of its duel credit initiative.

The district’s plan is to move forward with its goal to improve and enhance its facilities for the best safe learning environment it can achieve and will update its long-range facilities plan which includes a satellite facility for its transportation department to allow for additional space.

Genco said the district is still working to complete decommissioning of an old sewer plant on district property.

The district has noted in recent years along, with other school districts in the state, a lack of school bus drivers. Among its goals in the current school year is to create a campaign to attract bus drivers and mechanics to work in the district and pursue alternate revenue sources.

Another goal is to implement a document archival system. It was noted during a board meeting last month that by state regulations a school district must keep hard copy records for a period of around 99 years which is a rule that many educators and administers feel causes an undue burden for school districts.

Other goals listed in the presentation included increasing publication of district endeavors and student achievement in academics, extra-curricular areas and athletics.

The district will continue to refine website features and structure and continue to train staff.

A Jackson Liberty High School student asked during the public portion of the meeting if the planned 2019 review of scheduling might result in block scheduling and if so would that impact the school’s special academies program.

Genco responded that he did not believe any impact would result to the special learning academies at the school were any changes initiated. “We have no facility restrictions which is great so whatever we want to do we can do.”