BRIDGEWATER, NJ - Superintendent Russell Lazovick gave the first of two presentations regarding the district’s strategic planning work, and where three of the action teams stand so far regarding bringing change to Bridgewater-Raritan.

“Last year, we put together a long-term vision about how to move forward overall,” he said. “We assigned values and built a mission statement. We also built a strategic vision that describes who we want to be and what we are not, while also setting a path.”’

Lazovick said they put together action teams, and gathered together stakeholders to work together to ask questions, raise ideas, do research and make recommendations to the board, teachers, staff and administration.

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The six places of focus are communication, health and wellness, programs, safety, sustainability and technology.

The first presentation focused on communication, program and technology, and the next three will be discussed at the June 26 meeting.

Lazovick said there is a five-year outline for all the different action teams, with the first year being about research and creating a draft plan; the second being for targeted implementation; the third and fourth about implementation, reflection on implementation and determining what changes are to be made; and the fifth being about assessing all that was accomplished.

“We are currently in year one, and it is about the work the action teams have done to set us on a course to realize our vision,” he said.

With the communication team, Lazovick said, it is clear that effective two-way communication is what stakeholders feel needs to be improved upon.

“The five-year goal is to create, implement and annually evaluate and refine a clear communication system,” he said.

Lazovick said the team is focused on email, video, social media and face-to-face communication.

“The action team has been bouncing back information and ideas to approach each of these specific areas,” he said. “We want to make sure these are rolled out through policy or process.”

Right now, Lazovick said, they are focusing on mass communication and student information systems for the website.

“We went out for a proposal for those two this year, and they are two different areas that are critical and take on lives of their own,” he said. “We have received the proposals, and we will review them next.”

Lazovick said that at each step of the way, they are looking to get feedback from stakeholders to make sure they have the tools, people and direction that are right for the district.

“We are looking at the feedback we have gotten about how to communicate messages on a global scale, and are picking a potential new tool to implement this,” he said.

And the information system, Lazovick said, is the nexus for everything the district does for the students.

“It is critical for communication of grades, emergency information and more,” he said. “We use Powerschool now. But everything that connects us to students is critical for us. We want to make sure we are using the most efficient tool.”

Lazovick said they will be looking for comments from multiple stakeholder groups, and they will be bringing in community members to discuss and pick the information system that best addresses the needs of the district.

“That will be done before the end of the school year,” he said. “And we will spend the next 12 months, from July 2018 to July 2019, to build our capacity to transition to the new tool.”

“We are giving a full year to transfer all the information and begin to train everyone,” he added.

Finally, Lazovick said, they will be running a request for proposals on the web platform, and which functions are working.

“We have been getting feedback on the web platform for a little over a year now to see what works and what has to be improved,” he said.

Next, for the program action team, Lazovick said they are improving their evaluations of current programs, with course offerings, enrollments by subgroups, progression of study, enrollment trends, staffing, class sizes and resources.

“We are increasing our stakeholder feedback, and are looking at how to get better information and from people who future programs will be supporting,” he said. “We looked at how we measure the success of our programs, and what is success for us in a given program and how do we get information to allow us to assess how we have done.”

Lazovick said they want to make sure students are competitive because the programs are cutting edge.

“We have a number of parents who have joined our team, and they are parents of students who have not yet joined the district so they know they are getting the absolute best when they come to the district,” he said.

Finally, for the technology team, the five-year goal is to develop, implement and evaluate and refine a clear process for ensuring the most effective and consistent use of technology, Lazovick said.

Lazovick said there is a technology integration plan for 2018 through 2023 that is going to be coming to the board of education for evaluation.

“We made sure we are constantly evaluating the use of technology,” he said. “We have to make sure we can also continue the sentence of how being a one-to-one district has been positive for students, faculty, staff and community members.”

Lazovick said the action team has created the STAR program, or Students Taking Active Roles. Technology, he said, is part of the idea that it helps students become active in the education process.

“For the 2018–2019 school year, we are looking to partner with teachers across the district to give them tools for ongoing year-long professional development,” he said. “The team is trying to reach out in a diverse way to different teachers in different content areas to ensure that instead of just putting technology in the classroom, we are noticeably changing the environment.”

The presentation on the other three action teams will be held at the next regular board meeting.