MADISON, NJ – The Tuesday evening Board of Education meeting was dominated by the school performance report provided by Matthew Mingle, the director of Curriculum and Instruction for the district.

The report is available on the district website. Mingle said at the elementary school the main level of data considered by the state was chronic absenteeism. At Madison Junior School, Algebra I and absenteeism were considered and at the high school level, SAT, PSAT scores of 1,550 and student growth were compared to other peer schools. He said 31 schools across the state were used in the comparison. Socioeconomic factors, English proficiency and special education were also considered. Changes this year include ACT scores and visual and performing arts.

Mingle displayed a chart of the district’s elementary schools, showing their targets and how well they were met.

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“We don’t believe chronic absenteeism has any bearing on performance,” he said. Mingle added that students shouldn’t be forced to attend school if they’re sick or if a family trip is planned.

He also outlined next steps. At the elementary level, focus on math will increase and study groups will be formed for early literacy intervention. Outreach programs will be expanded for Spanish students as well.

Resident Joe Kennedy asked about the technology plan and a virtual high school experience. “All of our rival schools have computer science,” he said. “I realize budgets are tight, but kids are programming their own stuff with their laptops or tablets.” The investment would be in teaching, not in hardware, he said.  

Resident Tom Paskula said he had expected to hear discussion of the budget at the April 8 meeting. Board President Lisa Ellis explained that Superintendent of Schools Michael Rossi had just returned yesterday and there wasn’t time to meet with various department heads.

Earlier in the evening, Rossi thanked staff, parents and friends for the outpouring of support during his son’s recent diagnosis of a kidney tumor. Fortunately, he said, his son has received treatment at the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and is on the mend.

Several people asked about the school calendar for 2014-15 and 2015-16. The calendar is on the Board of Education website, Ellis said.