JACKSON – Finances, population, and other issues were discussed during a presentation on the state of the schools during a recent Board of Education meeting.
Superintendent Stephen Genco presented the PowerPoint presentation and also discussed various issues involving the goals being set for the new year and just how well the district has done in the year 2019.
Genco spoke about the district’s goals. “Our goals for 2019-2020 curriculum and student achievement is to implement social studies, K-12, guidance K-12, expand student engagement practices district wide and expand problem-based curriculum and staff training that focuses on real-world applications for students grades 9-12.”
The superintendent said that “We have already done the staff training with real life applications and we have implemented a new middle school schedule and they are still working on a recommendation for a high school schedule. There is a couple of ideas out there. We will probably see something in the next couple of months.”
The superintendent also said that the district is looking at mental health issues at its schools. “Society is changing and with that students are still students; kids are still kids. We really need to pay attention and be at the forefront of those things. Social and emotional learning – the students are probably tired of hearing us using those terms – but that is what we are doing,” Genco said.
Genco also noted that the district’s duel credit initiative has also been expanded on at Ocean County College. “We are at the high end of what we can possibly do. We can’t even expand that any further.”
Turning attention to the district’s long-term facilities plans. “It is always at the top of our list to maintain that,” Genco said adding that some “energy savings will fund some projects that need to get done on the district level over a time period.”
“Our satellite transportation facility is ahead of schedule and I pop in at least once a week and it is amazing how quick they are moving. The weather has been very, very accommodating and hopefully they will get in everything they need before the weather turns,” Genco said.
He also asked if the irrigation project at Jackson Liberty High School was yet completed and was told during the meeting by Edward Ostroff, director of Buildings and Grounds, that “they are all completed and operating.”
“We actually have water on the athletic field on one side of the road but not on the side where the satellite transportation site is but that is a huge project,” Genco said.
Security measures such as locked doors and vestibules are in place and security has improved in all buildings, “thanks to our voters,” he said.
Moving to finance and transportation, Genco said “we are looking to recruit mechanics and drivers as we speak. We are hiring four or five new drivers with this agenda which is great. We have the buses but we have a driver shortage. There is one state wide; it is not indigenous to Jackson but we are in a better place than we were in last year and we are continuing.”
Genco said that the district is always looking at alternative revenue sources. “We are continuing to investigate the implementation of the multi-year document archival system. The amount of storage is incredible when you consider that many of the documents that a school has to keep has to be kept for 99 years. Why 99 years is beyond me but student records have to be kept and personnel records have to be maintained for 99 years and I don’t think people realize that.”
“We are looking at the feasibility of courtesy busing routes in certain areas. A number of routes that might fall under the distance for courtesy busing however because of the roads and lack of sidewalks will never be considered as courtesy busing because of hazards,” Genco said
Genco then spoke about student population figures comparing figures to a decade ago. “We are down 1,700 students. Looking at your percentages and we expected to be at this number. We get a lot of move-ins during the course of the year. We got 150 and close to 200 move-ins during the course of the year and we are starting to see that again. We are registering new people every other day.”
“Our white and black population is down and every other population is pretty much up. Our Asian population is pretty much stable. Our Hispanic population has doubled and is getting closer to tripling. Our economically disadvantaged population has nearly doubled and our special education population from a percentage standpoint is much, much, higher. Our English language learner has quadrupled. You’re looking at a four times larger population and that requires a lot of services,” Genco said.