FRANKLIN TOWNSHIP, NJ - The Board of Education wants to build on a successful year that saw Superintendent Dr. John Ravally earn some $29,000 in merit pay, by taking a more holistic approach to a student’s education when the next school year begins in September.

Board members met July 18 to review Ravallay’s performance in relation to the goals set for him at the beginning of last year and then to come up with the district’s goals for the new year.

The more than $29,000 in bonus money, amounting to almost 14 percent of his compensation, was awarded because he exceeded the goals in several categories including K-2 student growth in language and math, community outreach, and reducing disciplinary issues among the district’s youngest students by 40 percent.

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Ravally reported that K-2 one-year student growth in language rose from 43 percent showing growth during the 2016-17 school year to 56.3 percent in 2017-18, exceeding the 55 percent goal.

Students showed similar one-year growth in math rising from 44 percent to 56.4 percent, also exceeding the 55 percent growth goal.

“It’s growth that helped us to pass New Jersey (Quality Single Accountability Continuum) QSAC for the first time this year,” Ravally said. “It’s (student) growth that will get us the proficiency.”

QSAC is the state Department of Education self-evaluation and monitoring system for public schools, according to the department’s website.

Ravally was also tasked with decreasing the number of a reported 200 kindergarten students that disciplinary issues in 2016-17.

Through a program in social and emotional learning training with teachers, Ravally reported a 40 percent drop in the number of disciplinary issues at the kindergarten level in 2017-18.

The training focused on making the children more responsible and willing to work together, he said.

While his goal was to decrease the number of disciplinary referrals by 10 percent, to about 180, the number dropped to 120.

Ravally also reported success in developing a social media plan where a limited number of district administrators and teachers used Twitter throughout the year to increase communication with the public.

He said that program, which included 33 administrators and 52 teachers tweeting 2-4 times a month on district happenings, will gradually expand in the coming years.

“We purposely limited the number of teachers in this pilot year,” Ravally said. “We are going to continue to limit teacher access because it’s easier to control and it went so well.”

His final goal related to carrying out plans to staff the new elementary school and follow up on the redistricting plan, including individual school scheduling.

Board members then unanimously approved his $29,467.95 bonus for reaching the goals.

Board Member Michelle Shelton was absent from the meeting.

The bulk of the meeting focused on setting the new district goals for the upcoming year.

New Jersey School Board’s Representative Gwen Thornton worked with the panel to keep the goals within the district’s strategic plan adopted last year.

The new goals stress a holistic approach to the students starting in elementary school, and then expanding during middle and high school, by exposing students to more opportunities to see what they are passionate about and to get them to challenge themselves and engage more with educational opportunities.

In order to accomplish this, the board will consider exposing the students to more career and vocational choices as well as allowing younger students to explore advanced courses in areas that may interest them early on.

The goal is to have the students more engaged in their own education and more likely to challenge themselves and succeed in taking more advanced coursework later on.

Another goal along the same line is to use either existing data, or gather information on district alumni after they graduate to see how they fare when they leave the district.

The purpose of this goal is to see if the district is doing its job of preparing students for further education or careers appropriately, members said.

In addition, goals were developed to make sure the students are in a safe environment, continue community outreach, and to complete the final phase of the referendum.

These district goals are scheduled to be discussed and formally adopted by the board at the July 26 meeting.

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