Editor's Note: This is the second part of a 2-part article.
FAIR LAWN, NJ — The Board of Education approved five district goals in early August established by the administration ahead of the 2019-2020 school year, which begins Monday, Sept. 9 for all students.
The vote, Aug. 8, passed 8-1 with trustee Wilkin Santana opposed.
During the Aug. 22 board meeting, Superintendent Nick Norcia elucidated the five goals which center on improving health and wellness, and fostering the skills students need for 21st Century learning. Most of those were included in part one of this article. Part two begins with advanced learning for district juniors.
Beginning on the first day of school in two weeks, 15 juniors who qualified for the district’s first-time Early College Program in partnership with Bergen Community College, will be bused to the neighboring campus on a part-time basis to take courses to attain their Associate’s degree. The program was designated to afford high school juniors the chance to acquire college credit while still in high school.
In January, when the partnership was first announced, Norcia said at a board meeting that the goal of the program was to save families money on their children’s education.
“This is a very robust goal for us,” Norica said Thursday night, “but we’re very pleased with how we crafted it to one goal.”
Part of the reason for Santana's no vote? He felt this partnership should have been a goal in itself in addition to its REACH program, which "offers critical and creative thinking enrichment opportunities to students in grades 4-5 as a pullout program," according to its website.
"The amount of work the district has done to improve and update the REACH program, I think we need to have that as a separate goal so we can assess the implementation," Santana said.
Norcia explained that goal four addresses the REACH program and emphasized that the goal is "robust."
"We're just getting started," Norcia said. "We're still working on our program as this year progresses and is still included in this goal."
To round off the board’s goals, the fifth one deals with continuing to prepare students, staff and parents for the new middle school reconfiguration at Thomas Jefferson and Memorial Middle Schools, which will begin one year from now. The $25 million configuration, which broke ground this past summer, will move the fifth-grade up from the elementary school to the middle school. The project was put to a successful referendum vote in March 2018, and was proposed by then-Interim Superintendent Ernest Palestis as a solution to correct the overcrowding crisis at the elementary and middle schools given burgeoning enrollment. A projected 500 new students are expected in the next five years, according to research by two district demographers.
“Last year we spent a lot of time working on planning for the referendum but also planning for the schedule, transition process, what will it look like for the students, families, our staff. This year, we’re going to be working on curriculum, scheduling… so it’s going to be a lot of now taking it to the next level.”