I want to take this opportunity to address our parents and students about the school year ahead of us. As many Paterson families know, this year is a pivotal year in the Paterson Public School District. If all goes as we have planned, it will be our last year under state control since the state took over in 1991. You all know how important this is. Thirty years is too long for the families of the Paterson community to be without a voice in the decisions that affect the education of their children. 

As much of a priority restoring local control is for our district, there is still a priority that is far greater. That is the success of the students in our schools. Student achievement is, was, and always will be the primary focus of the Paterson Public School District. Simply put, if our students succeed the restoration of local control will follow. 

The good news is our students are succeeding.

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The number of students reading at or above grade level in grades K to 5 is up 19 percent since last year. Our students achieved that increase with the help of our aggressive reading program that we instituted last year; as well as all of the support at home from families who reinforced the importance of reading. 

Paterson Public Schools students were awarded $9.4 million in scholarships in the past year, and there were twice as many students who scored a three or higher on AP exams this year as there were last year. Last year there were 43. This year there are 86. This is just one example of when we hold our students to high expectations; they meet the bar. Our students can do whatever we challenge them to do if we give them and our teachers the tools they need.  

Our district is starting the new school year with a 92 percent compliance rate on Individualized Education Plans, or IEPs. This is an all-time high for the district, and it would not have been achieved without our dedicated professionals in the district and the open dialogue that families have kept with us. 

As we begin the new school year, we are providing more opportunities for students to be successful than ever before. 

Twelve district high schools will launch the Advanced Placement (AP) Capstone Diploma Program in September. The rigorous program enables students to develop research, collaboration, and communication skills through project-based learning and a specialized curriculum.  

Ten Paterson Public Schools high school seniors will be at Passaic County Community College this year earning college credits through our new program called Students Taking an Early Pathway to Success, or STEPS.  

And 55 students will begin the school year as the first students in the 

P-TECH at PANTHER Academy program. The four-to-six-year program will prepare students for careers in the tech sector, and students will graduate with a high school diploma and an associate degree in applied science. 

Social and emotional learning will be a priority in the upcoming school year…as a major part of our efforts to help students succeed in school. No matter what grade a student is starting on September 5th, we are here to help all students achieve success. 

If you are a student who needs help, or if you are a parent or family member of a student who needs help, never hesitate to come to a teacher, a principal or a vice principal, or an assistant superintendent, deputy superintendent, and superintendent. 

But my expectation is that we’ll be doing very well this year. The opportunities are there for success, and we’ve got the best teachers, administrators and staff in the world ready to help students achieve it. 

To the students, I look forward to seeing you as I make my way throughout the schools. 

Let’s make the 2019-2020 school year one of the best ever in the Paterson Public School District.