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LIVINGSTON, NJ — During his final superintendent’s report prior to his first school year in the position at Livingston Public Schools (LPS), Dr. Matthew Block both recognized recent successes and provided updates on enrollment and other pending topics during last week’s Livingston Board of Education (LBOE) meeting.
In response to LBOE President Charles "Buddy" August’s acknowledgment of the district being named No. 3 in the state by Niche.com, Block reminded the public that while it is “really nice to be honored and recognized in that way,” it is also important to remember that the success of the district is measured by more than the recent Niche.com rankings.
“Livingston has a lot to be proud of, but it’s important to remember, too, that that’s one of many measurements of the great things that happen for the students in the district every day,” he said. “We should enjoy it and smile, but also realize that we measure ourselves by the work that we do every day with our student here at Livingston.”
In addition to the district’s overall ranking, Niche.com also recently named Heritage and Mt. Pleasant as the No. 2 and No. 9 middle schools in the state, respectively.
As part of his superintendent’s report, Block also expressed confidence in Business Administrator Steven Robinson’s 2019-2020 enrollment update.
According to Robinson, enrollment in the district overall has decreased slightly from last year, with the reduction being felt mostly at the elementary schools. As of last week, there are 354 children enrolled in kindergarten compared to the 451 students enrolled in fifth grade at LPS.
“Even with elementary enrollment dropping, we are adding two additional sections on what we’ve budgeted and one additional section that we have in place from last year,” said Robinson. “The reason is to bring class sizes at or below guidelines. As of today, I believe all 116 sections will be at or below guidelines.”
All grade levels from fourth grade and below are currently under 425 students compared to all grades five and above, which have a low of 459 in 10th grade and a high of 504 students in ninth grade, according to Robinson. The high school will see the largest increase of all, as it will increase by approximately 50 students.
In response to inquiries from the board, Robinson said the only concern as of last week was with the fifth grade because there are only 25 spots open overall within the district. He said the district does not expect 25 more students to enroll in the next couple of weeks, but that he mentioned it “just to show how tight it is.”
“We look at the appointments and try to make the best decisions in terms of opening up sections,” Block said in further explanation. “Obviously, as time goes on, that becomes extremely difficult. We’ve been, particularly over the last couple of weeks, looking at it on a daily basis and monitoring what the appointments are. It looks like—if the numbers hold the way they are and the appointments hold the way they are—we’re going to be okay in fifth grade.
“The thing that we never know is, the week before Labor Day, who’s going to come to our door. But based on the information we have, we make the most logical decisions we can.”
In the weeks before school starts, Block was enthusiastic about this week’s new teacher orientation, which will welcome 80 new hires to the district. We was also thrilled to announce that a permanent principal is now officially in place at all nine public schools.
He also highlighted some upcoming projects, including a significant security upgrade to the district’s communication system that he said is a “major undertaking but will significantly increase safety.”
To read more about this LBOE meeting, click on the headlines below: