BERNARDS TOWNSHIP, NJ -- Bernards Township school officials have launched a communications system to better hear, discuss and update staff, students and the public on current hot topics.

The new “BT Schools Connect” aims to implement one of the goals of the long-term strategic plan approved in the fall, said Superintendent Nick Markarian at the Board of Education meeting on Monday, Sept. 23.

There will be four goal areas, or “strands,” that will address things like changing the health curriculum, longer but fewer class periods at the high school and helping teachers improve their skills.

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The coordinating Communications Council will be chaired by the administrative team in the district and meet quarterly to coordinate publicity of updates. The body will be comprised of nine administrators (including building principals), seven parents (likely to be PTO officers), four Board of Education members, one teacher per building and two students.

The first meeting will be held Oct. 15 to hear a curriculum or counseling presentation, set goals and discuss meeting topics. Other meetings are scheduled for Dec. 3, Feb. 25 and April 28. Perhaps there will be quarterly newsletters on progress, said Markarian.

Meetings of the four strand committees are flexible and open to the public in a town-hall format.

One strand, “Student Competencies,” will address such things as changes to the health curriculum, a “rotating drop” schedule at Ridge High School, possible changing of the starting time of the school day at Ridge, and social-emotional learning and character education.

A “Professional Development” group will talk about such things as staff wellness, coaching teachers to become better instructors and teaching in longer class periods.

A “School Safety” strand will discuss security procedures and practices and facility changes.

The fourth strand, “Communication,” will address about how the school district is meeting needs of parents, teachers and public. It will send out an annual postcard to parents in October to tell parents how to connect to the school electronically via the Genesis computer system, Parent Portal, emails and principals’ “ blasts.”

The strategic plan is available on the school district web page.