BRIDGEWATER, NJ - School officials are focused on getting ready for the new school year that starts in September, including the implementation of new technology, according to the administration at a recent board of education meeting.

“It’s summer,” said Superintendent Russell Lazovick. “We have two months to prepare for a 10-month season.”

Lazovick spoke of how the district is still providing academic support to its students in the summer, while also working on improving its curriculum.

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“There’s a number of tools we’re working on, on the technology side,” he said.

Lazovick specifically mentioned the new School Messenger application, which he said will prove to be a more powerful tool than the previously-used Honeywell alert system. He said more information will go out to parents before the new school year begins, along with updates.

“We’re excited about that,” he said. 

In addition, Lazovick said, the PowerSchool technology platform will be re-introduced to staff, students and parents, and more of the program’s abilities will be utilized in the future.

In other preparations for the new year, Lazovick said the district’s buildings are being examined, and the district’s building and grounds division is putting effort and funding into the structures, including paving duties.

“The board and the administration are committed to doing things the right way,” he said.

Regarding strategic and safety plans, he said that all teachers from kindergarten through 12th grade will be provided with individual devices, as redundancies for the network, and also to reduce phone expenses. He reiterated that there will also be changes in communication.

“I’m looking to the board for direction,” said Lazovick, “about what to tackle first in the report.”

In particular, that included where the district should focus its resources, such as whether or not administrators should pursue a full-day kindergarten program. The superintendent was also looking for more structure regarding the report that he had submitted earlier to the board regarding program evaluations.

“(It’s about) what specifically we need, moving forward,” he said. “What issues take chief priority?”

Board member Ann Marie Mead asked for a hard copy of Lazovick’s report, as did several other board members.

Board member Jeffrey Brookner said he would like to have full-day kindergarten, along with expanded athletic programs and other offerings. He also said that implementing full-day kindergarten might depend on how effective its impact would be compared to other initiatives, while Mead said there need to be a discussion. 

The board also discussed student growth as pupils matriculate through the district. Brookner said the best product result has to be for those students who are “coming out of 12th grade,” as opposed to students who were completing, for example, elementary school.

Board member Jacqueline Barlow asked what engages students to “make them higher-growth students,” while touching upon facets such as extracurricular activities.

Lazovick said there will be communication with staff and parents through PowerSchool in the coming month regarding the amount of homework that students will have to deal with, to “balance the workload for students.” He added that information will also go out regarding policy, feedback will be taken and an informed decision will be made later this year.

Concerning the purpose of homework, Lazovick added that he will not enact sweeping changes without first consulting the district’s teachers. 

He spoke of a more pointed usage of homework, touching upon the question of too much versus too little, to maximize student education while not necessarily changing policy at this point. He added that he has also received feedback about student summer assignments.

School board president Jill Gladstone praised Lazovick’s presentation from the previous month regarding curriculum, technology and facilities. She also said the district has to be careful about resources.

Mead asked if the board will be able to come back and figure matters out after receiving a hard copy of Lazovick’s report. Lazovick replied that there will be multiple, focused conversations in the future.