MADISON, NJ – The Madison Junior School has a long history of community service, Principal Nicole Sherrin told the Board of Education at its Feb. 12 meeting.
“Our efforts are usually far away,” she said, such as New Orleans or Haiti. But this time it was Hurricane Sandy, right here in New Jersey. The school’s peer team adopted Union Beach, along with the borough council and citizens of  Madison. The Student Council held a supply drive, collecting items for South Jersey and Staten Island.
Student Council President Owen Matthews said, “We actually got to help out.” She described their drive to Union Beach, where most of the houses had red stickers, meaning no one could live in them. “We cleaned up parks and beaches and tried to make the place beautiful,” she said. And they could see the results immediately. Even while the students were unloading wood, they were singing, she said.
Student Abigail Shier said the students did research and held a fundraiser by showing the movie “Toy Story.” They decorated the front entrance of the school, hung posters “and had a lot of fun.” Faculty member Stephen Finkelstein showed a video of the students’ efforts, which had been viewed previously at the Madison Council Reorganization Meeting on Jan. 1. The Madison students and their project were featured on Channel 12 News.

“We were all really touched by this experience,” Sherrin said. “The peer leaders found this a tremendous learning and growing experience.”
School Board President Lisa Ellis said,” We’re very, very proud of you and we’re blessed to live in Madison.”
On a less lofty note, an issue came up regarding the restrooms at Central Avenue School. Several parents expressed concern about the older building and the bathrooms in the basement. Although the rooms had been redone in August, parents said the doors don’t close properly and a messy utility  area is adjacent. One person said the sinks were clogged and there were ants in the room.
Superintendent of Schools Michael Rossi said he would take another look at the area and that cleanliness is essential. “It’s a very challenging building,” he said.
There was also concern about locking entrance doors for security purposes. Rossi said the Walnut Street door would be locked at the start of school and the only entrance would be at the main door. “We want to give parents notice before we do that,” he said. Additional security measures are in the works, such as security cameras.
The board adopted a Principal Evaluation System. An overview of the performance standards will be available on the district’s website. “This is part of the new paradigm,” Rossi said. He said several staff members saw presentations from pilot districts and selected the one that was consistent with student evaluations. “The stakes will be very, very high for all of us,” he said. “The state has not fleshed out the details.” One person suggested that parent feedback be considered, especially for the elementary schools.

Ellis announced that the school calendar will be on the agenda for the Feb. 26 meeting.  She said the latest version is on the website and invited comments.