MADISON, NJ – A comprehensive review of the vision for Madison schools until 2020 was presented at the Tuesday Board of Education meeting.

“Our district goal is to think long term,” Superintendent of Schools Michael Rossi said. He noted the process for the Strategic Plan began one year ago, with the world café as a kickoff. That entailed engaging residents in small group discussions to reveal the strengths, weaknesses and concerns in the school community.

“It was a springboard for what lay ahead. We re-affirmed our mission statement and core values,” he said. The mission statement “will inspire and challenge all students to be life-long learners, empowered with the knowledge, skills and character to shape their future, realize their dreams and contribute positively to the world.”  Core values include: all people have intrinsic value, embracing diversity strengthens the community and enriches our lives, and choice powerfully shapes the course of one’s life.

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Five teams intersected and worked as a unit, he said. They included student achievement – headed by Rossi, curriculum – Matthew Mingle, technology – John LaPierre, facilities – Wayne Desjadon and finance – Gary Lane.  Each group developed a strategy.  Teacher and resident Suzanne Monkemeier addressed student achievement.  “It’s not just a plan, it’s a vision,” she said. “We were told by our facilitator to pretend that the sky’s the limit.” She said every opinion counted, with an emphasis on the importance of the child. Assessment data included social and emotional well being, as well as academic goals. “We teach the whole child,” she said.   LaPierre, in addressing technology, said it is important to maintain human contact and not to use “technology for the sake of technology.”

Lane said from the financial aspect “all I see are dollar signs.” But he said a three to five year plan was essential. “I’ve usually said our objective is to maintain what we have. But is this where we want to be in the future?”  Developing alternative revenue streams will be explored along with annual needs assessments.

Board President Lisa Ellis said, “This is an exciting process and I’m pleased with the results.”  She noted that Madison has been rated number 24 of 100 best small towns on a national survey and was the only New Jersey town in the top 25 of the study.

Also on the agenda was a public hearing of the superintendent’s contract renewal.  A vote will be held at the next meeting.  “I’m more than thrilled to be staying here,” Rossi said of the proposed three-year contract.  “This is a wonderfully supportive board and we can move forward together.”  He also recommended renewing contracts for Business Administrator Lane and technology specialist LaPierre.  He recommended Mingle be promoted to Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction.

A public hearing was held on bond refunding, which is required by the state. The board adopted the resolution. A number of appointments for faculty and staff were included in the agenda. Several people questioned the number of football assistant coaches, at $7,000 each when teaching aides for special needs students are being reduced.  Ellis said those concerns would be taken into consideration for next year’s budget.

Earlier in the evening Teacher of the Year presentations were made and retirees honored.