New Progress Towards Local Control of Schools

School Board member Jonathan Hodges
School board president Theodore Best


PATERSON, NJ - Paterson Public Schools  has taken another step towards shedding state control, according to the most recent formal evaluation of the district. That evaluation, by the way, was done by the district itself.
The district's recently-completed 91-page assessment of itself found that Paterson Public Schools achieved passing grades in four of five categories - fiscal management, governance, operations and personnel. Its lone failing mark was in instruction and curriculum.
The previous evaluation, conducted by the state and released in December, found the district passing three categories - governance, operations and personnel. The improvement in the fiscal management score comes at a time when the district is undergoing a shakeup in its financial hierarchy, including the termination of its business administrator.

The recent self-assessment is part of process the state has created for local districts to regain control of their schools. The grades the district gave to itself will be forwarded to the Passaic County Superintendent of Schools and eventually to the New Jersey Commissioner of Education for confirmation.
"I'm confident the numbers will hold up,'' after the county and state review, said Paterson Board of Education President Theodore Best.
Paterson schools have been under state control for two decades.
The district is holding a special meeting of the Board of Education on January 10 to discuss the performance review and seek public comment on it. The meeting is scheduled for 6:30 pm at its offices at 90 Delaware Avenue.
Officials remain dismayed by the district's poor performance in instruction and curriculum. "It's something we've got to address aggressively,'' said Paterson Schools Commissioner Jonathan Hodges. "From my point of view, it's the only reason we're in business.''
In its own review, the district scored a 38 out of a 100 in instruction and curriculum. That's a slight improvement over the score of 31 that the state gave Paterson in the category back in December.
Best said much of the ranking in instruction and curriculum is based on students' scores in standardized tests.
"If you're not creating the right educational environment, the students aren't going to do well in these tests,'' Hodges said.

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