PLAINFIELD, NJ – Plainfield Board of Education members voted and approved key personnel at the business meeting held on Oct. 15.  Mark A. Williams was appointed as the Assistant Superintendent and Yolanda Koon will step in as Acting Business Administrator / Board Secretary with the retirement of Gary Ottmann effective January 1, 2020.  Ottmann had served in the school district for twenty-five years.

Board members were also given an update on the district’s school data.  Superintendent Dr. Diana Mitchell provided a summary of overall school data, including trends in English and Math at all levels, as part of an annual requirement of the New Jersey Department of Education.  Mitchell indicated that the total student population stands at 8,238, and is growing.  Currently, the racial composition of the district is approximately 75.5% Hispanic and 23% African American and 1.2% other.

According to the superintendent, a key trend was an increase in the graduation rate, up from 76% in 2018 to 79% this year.  The national average in the State of New Jersey ranges from 72 to 94 percent.

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Mitchell noted that there was no change in the mission of the district, but a strategic planning process will take place in January 2020 when the vision and mission may change to incorporate stakeholder input.

Highlights of the presentation included:

Successes achieved:

  • High School Algebra I scores increased 7 percent from 2018 to 2019
  • Algebra II scores at the high school increased 22 percent from 1 percent
  • One hundred percent principal retention rate
  • 9th Grade ELA scores increased 11 points from 2018 to 2019
  • 10th Grade ELA scores increased 4 points from 2018 to 2019
  • The Middle School Algebra I scores are in the 70th percentile
  • 2019 Benchmark Data (Kindergarten students) shows 65% Literacy, 77% Math, 69% Science, 77% Social Studies and 80% Social Emotional Development

Challenges noted:

  • Community perception of schools’ culture and climate
  • Slow growth in all core content areas
  • Teacher retention
  • Cross training of personnel
  • Parent participation/limited PTA/PTO participation

Elements of Existing Strategic Goals:

  • Goal 1 — Learning Outcomes: To improve the learning and academic performance of all PPS students
  • Goal 2 — Human Resources: To improve the recruitment, retention and development of district staff
  • Goal 3 — Business Practices:  To improve the overall efficiency and effectiveness of district school operations
  • Goal 4 — Safe Learning Environment: To provide a safe, secure, professional and clean environment for students, staff and members of the community
  • Goal 5 — Community and Family Engagement: To actively engage families and communities in a meaningful, structured and productive manner that promotes learning and cooperation

Mitchell mentioned the Lets Talk and Board Docs as technology tools to help achieve efficiency and accountability to the community. Let’s Talk will be implemented within the next few weeks on the district website.

RELATED: New Plainfield Superintendent Proposes Communication Tool for District 

In closing, Mitchell emphasized one of the key goals in marketing the district, saying, “We must stop talking negatively about us. Be a positive part of the solution. If you have a concern, bring a solution on how you can help.”

The full detailed data report will be available on the district website.

RELATED: 5 Schools in Status, Superintendent Says it's a District Problem is Plainfield's free online daily newspaper for Plainfield, NJ news. Sign up for our daily eNews and follow us on Facebook, Twitter @PlainfieldTAP, and on Instagram @tapintoplainfield for all of your Plainfield local news.

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