SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ – The South Plainfield Board of Education, at COW meeting July 20, voted 6-0 in favor of the relocation of the district’s Future Stars preschool program. Effective September, the program – which is now known as the South Plainfield Preschool Program – will move out of the Roosevelt Administration Building and into classrooms located within the district’s four elementary schools.

“The rational in moving the preschool into the elementary buildings is because we want the kids to be in the least restrictive involvement,” Dr. Noreen Lishak, the district’s newly appointed superintendent of schools, stated during the meeting. “The building they were in is an administration building, it is not an early learning center. The best place for students to be is within their school community.”

A public meeting to discuss the move, answer questions, and provide parents of incoming students with information, including building/class assignments, for the upcoming school year will be held Wednesday, July 27 at 6 p.m. in library at Roosevelt Elementary School.

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“We will answer any questions you may have individual to your child and you will receive your children’s school assignment so you know where they are going, have a full month to prepare and can make any necessary arrangements,” said Dr. Lishak.

There are currently 80 (both general and special education) students enrolled in preschool program for September 2016. As it currently stands, classes to be offered as follows: 3 full-day classes at Roosevelt; one half-day morning and one half-day afternoon class at Riley; one half-day morning and one half-day afternoon class at Kennedy; and one half-day morning class at Franklin.

While preschool classes will take place at all four elementary buildings, students may not necessarily be attending preschool in their home school but rather in the school that meets need and enrollment factors. For example, if a child is zoned for Franklin but enrolled in full day program their classes will be held at Roosevelt as it is the only school hosting the full-day option.

According to Dr. Lishak, over the upcoming weeks, all preschool classroom materials will be moved out of the administration building and into the designated classrooms at the elementary schools. Additionally, Karen Kelly, RN, who served as nurse of the Future Stars program, will be relocated to Roosevelt and also serve as a floater on an as-needed basis while the preschool’s secretary will be reassigned within the district.

All preschool students will also continue to receive art, music and physical education and full-time preschoolers will have lunch and recess; the district, however, is not required it install special playground equipment for the preschool-age children.

“All of those services will still continue,” said Dr. Lishak. “The programs themselves have not changed at all; the services they receive, all of the special like music and physical education, will continue …”

In selecting rooms for the preschool classes, the superintendent also stated at the July 20 meeting that effort was made to ensure the younger children would not be with older students. “They will not be with students who are any older than second grade,” said Dr. Lishak, adding that the building principals will handle lunch and other scheduling issues.

Additionally, the preschool program will continue to have one PTO president/liaison who will coordinate parties, events, trips, and/or other activities with the building principals. For the 2016-2017 school year the PTO president/liaison will be Jessica Spina.

The six members of the South Plainfield Board of Education present for the meeting – President Debbie Boyle, Vice President William Seesselberg, and members Kim Anesh, Carol Byrne, Chere Glover, and Sharon Miller – voted in favor of the move; members Steve Bohn, Doug Chapman, and John Farinella were not in attendance.

“By moving the pre-K program into the three buildings that have space those preschool students will be a part of the school community and be involved in all the things that go on in that school,” said Boyle.

Run first out of Grant School and then relocated to ‘old Roosevelt,’ the preschool program saw a handful of problems during the 2015-2016 school year. Classrooms were relocated due to compliance issues, there was concern over the student-teacher ratio, and, during the last month of the school year, two classes located in the trailer portion of the building were displaced due to a strong odor.

With the preschool program no longer in the building, the district plans to utilize the space solely for administrative purposes such reducing overcrowded offices and establishing a conference area. The trailers will not be used and may, down the road, be moved.

“My assumption is that they are well over 30 years old and although we have no plan to remove them at this time, six months from now could be a different story,” Dr. Lishak told TAPinto South Plainfield. “We will look to determine an alternative use for them in the district and they could be moved and repurposed for something.”

In addition to approving the relocation of the preschool program, the board, at last Wednesday’s meeting, also approved the transfers and appointments of several teachers/staff/coaches; named Suplee Clooney as the district’s new auditors; and presented an update on the electrical repairs at South Plainfield High School as well as announced that three public meetings are planned to discuss options for inclusion in an upcoming bond referendum.

Meetings will be held on Wedesdays Aug. 24, Aug. 31, and Sept. 7, during which time, representatives from various groups and organizations will be able to present the board with their needs for consideration in the referendum. A final decision as to what projects, improvements and/or needs should be included in the referendum will be rendered and must be submitted to the state by Sept. 15. The referendum vote would take place in March 2017.

“We need input from the community and for you to tell us what we need and from there we can determine what we can afford,” said Byrne.

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