MONTVILLE, NJ – After Superintendent of Schools René Rovtar commented on DAC’s recommendation to install vaping detectors in the schools, Assistant Superintendent Casey Shorter gave the annual report of student performance and accomplishments from the past academic year at the Oct. 15 Montville Township Board of Education meeting.

Vaping Detector Installation

Rovtar said she had received a letter from the Montville Township Drug Awareness Council asking the district to consider installing vaping detection devices at Lazar and the high school. Rovtar said, “I know vaping has been in the news as we are experiencing very serious medical consequences that result. We as an administration have been very proactive over the last several years, in that there has been some mention of the medical horrors of vaping in the district newsletter and we’ve had parent programs about vaping. I conducted a survey with other districts in Morris County with regard to vaping detection and none of them is considering or installing detection devices. A few districts have committed to piloting the devices, which cost about $1,000 each plus maintenance fees. As a district we are going to wait to see the results of those pilot implementations and review their experience before we consider installing them here in our schools. Some fear it just redirects students to another area for their vaping. If students are concerned about their vaping activities, they should seek out the Student Assistance Coordinators for resources.”

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Student Performance and Accomplishments for the 2018-2019 School Year

Shorter’s presentation included state testing from the NJSLA, which was called the PARCC in past years. He said that it is only one piece of information used to formulate plans for students in math, science and language arts. Further, the state testing may be replaced by another new state testing protocol in the next few years, he said.

The scores on the state tests is five levels – that is, students can receive a 1, 2, 3, 4 or 5 on tests in English language arts/ literacy and math. The state considers a 4 or a 5 as a “passing” grade, Shorter said. He showed district students’ English language arts/literacy scores from the past three years from third grade through tenth grade, and said that most students achieving 4 or 5 had increased, except for grade five which had decreased by .1% and eighth grade which had decreased by .2%. He said these decreases were probably statistically insignificant.

Scores in math had also mostly increased over the three-year period except for sixth grade which decreased 6.5%. Shorter said that was not only characteristic across the state but across the nation. Eighth grade scores decreased by 2.5% as well.

Assistant Superintendent Andrea Woodring said English Language Learners would also be assessed to see if they were Special Education students, a new initiative in the district that teachers were being trained in, ie, students presenting with both challenges together. After-school help for reading remediation, special education students, basic skills help and Title I help are being offered in the district this year to bridge gaps students might have, she said.

A focus on phonics instruction is taking place for both regular and special education students for kindergarten through second grade students, she said, and impressive results have resulted from two basic skills and special ed reading programs the district introduced last year. New math programs are being piloted this year as well. The district has formulated a plan designed to focus on geometry at the high school level, she said.

After taking the Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test (PSAT), Montville Township High School had seven National Merit finalists, nine semi-finalists (two more than last year), and 64 commended students (one more than last year). In the area of Advanced Placement tests, or college-level course tests, the high school was named to the AP District Honor Roll for significant gains in student access and success for the second consecutive year. AP exams were given in 26 subjects and 84% scored a 3 or higher (3 to 5 is conserved passing and may be considered for college credit), Shorter said.

The forensics (speech and debate) team was ranked among the top one percent of schools nationwide, and the district was recognized for the fourth straight year by the NAMM Foundation for outstanding support of music education. Further, the MTHS Marching Band placed first in the US Bands states and national competition, Shorter said.

In athletics, the bowling team won an NJAC Southern Conference title, and the wresting team earned a North 1 Group 3 state sectional championship, Shorter said. See photo gallery for more athletic accomplishments.

Ninety six percent of graduates attended college or university, Shorter said.

“I think we’re pretty pleased with our results across the board and I look forward to addressing the areas that need addressing,” Shorter concluded the presentation.

Board President Charles Grau said, “These results are outstanding in my mind. I’m sure they will continue. I’d like to thank the staff for the excellent job they have done in educating our children.”

Progress Towards Goals

Rovtar also made the district’s progress towards annual goals available. The four goals’ progress included establishment of a construction timeline for the spring referendum projects and the start of LED lighting, which began on Sept. 30.

The district has begun to use Schoology, a learning management program, and there have been some glitches between the district and between parents and the system, but they are being addressed, according to the progress on goals report. Rovtar is sending out weekly messages on the platform.

Mindfulness continues to be a district goal, and the staff inservice day in September included the discussion of the importance of trusted teacher/student relationships. A Superintendent’s Book Club discussion of The Stressed Years of Their Lives will take place on Nov. 12 at 7 p.m. in the high school media center, and the district website has resources for employees on mindfulness for the classroom.

Progress on the goal on “good digital citizenship in students” has not yet begun.

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