BRIDGEWATER, NJ - With a superintendent search on the horizon for the district, Bridgewater-Raritan Education Association President Laura Kress said they are hoping to find someone who will listen to what has gone on in the past, and will communicate with the district.
“We are looking for someone who will listen to what has gone on, someone that will communicate clearly with us and not make any major changes for the first year or so,” she said. “We are looking for someone who will work through these major changes if someone is going to make them.”
Those major changes, Kress said, include the proposed change in school start times and plans to study the potential for changing to block scheduling for the high school and middle school.
The district has put together a committee to investigate moving school start times back for the high school and middle school, with a potential for implementation in the 2021-2022 school year, if they choose to move forward.
Block scheduling would eliminate the number of classes held each day, but increase the amount of time spent in each class to close to 90 minutes, from about 40 minutes now.
Kress said the staff would like, if the changes move forward, to see a plan in place come September, where teachers are trained and given the proper materials to help in the transition, particularly with regard to the potential move to block schedule which could double the amount of time per class.
As far as changing school start times, Kress said, the plan has to be well-developed and well-thought out.
“I would say we should do it only if the benefits for the whole outweigh the negatives,” she said. “We have to proceed with caution and make sure we have proper leadership to guide us through this.”
Kress said she understands it has been suggested that the district back off these potential major changes, at least until a new superintendent has been hired and brought up to speed. But, she said, that may not be necessary.
“The board made a commitment to the community to do this,” she said. “It’s ok to explore the options and continue the committee work, but unless we have a superintendent or someone to see us through the physical change, we might want to put it on hold until we have our ducks all in a row.”
“If we have a good plan in June, but don’t have a superintendent until September, we might want to put off any changes until the following year,” she added.
Kress said she believes that doing the investigations and researching the changes now wouldn’t be such a bad thing.
But most importantly, as the district prepares to begin its superintendent search, Kress said it is important to maintain communication with the district, staff, parents and students, and make sure everyone knows what is going on and what any changes will entail.
“We need to hire someone who will clearly and honestly communicate with both the board and staff,” she said. “Everything works together, and it has to happen that way.”