LIVINGSTON, NJ — Although Gov. Phil Murphy’s recent decision to close all New Jersey school facilities for in-person learning through the end of the 2019-2020 academic year was difficult news to process, Superintendent of Livingston Public Schools Dr. Matthew Block has since expressed that there “would have been many logistical challenges presented to districts if [they] were required to open facilities under the current circumstances.”
Despite the disappointment of not being able to “hold those much-anticipated end-of-the-year events, enjoy a spring sports season and cross the finish line of this shared school experience together,” the superintendent urged the community to recognize that “the dedication, creativity, perseverance and positivity of [the Livingston] community has been remarkable from the beginning of the remote-learning experience.”
“We have stayed connected, shown incredible pride in our schools and our community and witnessed the many inspirational examples of our students, families and educators going the extra mile so that the Livingston Public Schools could thrive despite the current struggles,” said Block. “I firmly believe that the resourcefulness and creativity that guided our efforts in remote learning will carry over into our planning for the end of the year.
“The spirit that has kept us engaged and connected over the past two months, will be with us as we hold events to honor our seniors, bring meaningful closure to the school year, and ensure that the end of the 2019-2020 year is as memorable and special as possible.”
Block also said that the Livingston district’s circumstances have “evolved significantly over the past two months,” stating that it has been impossible to tell what’s coming next, but that the district has “already begun the planning for end-of-year virtual events and celebrations.”
“As new information and ideas emerge, we can adjust those plans over time,” he said. “Our teachers, principals and the entire Livingston Public Schools team remains committed to doing all we can to provide the best experiences possible for all of our students over the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year.”
Regarding the remote-learning platform, Block said the district is prepared to continue providing all instructional and related services to students and families remotely for the remainder of the academic year.
“While we are working in a very different format, schools are very much open,” he said. “As a result, our faculty and staff at all levels continue to be fully engaged with our students and families.”
The district is also “navigating the ever-evolving parameters set forth by the state when it comes to funding issues for public schools,” according to Block.
“For now, districts have been ordered by the governor to continue paying most employees,” said Block. “Funding may become available through federal grants to subsidize some operational costs to school districts. Information on that funding is still emerging.”
The superintendent noted that some cost savings are likely to be realized as a result of the facilities being closed as well, but that the closure has also negatively impacted revenue sources.
“Additionally, since the state government has been hit hard by this economic crisis, we are bracing for possible significant reductions in state school funding,” said Block.
By the end of June, Block said he hopes to have a more complete sense of the district’s financial position going into the 2020-2021 school year.