SPARTA, NJ – At the May Sparta Board of Education meeting Dr Daniel Johnson unveiled the 3D Strategic Plan for the Sparta School District.  The board will be asked to approve this plan at the June meeting on Monday night.

The title 3D refers to Determination, Dreams and Destiny.

Currently the principal of Sparta High School, Johnson has been named to become the Assistant Superintendent for Staff and Curriculum Development beginning July 1.  Superintendent Dennis Tobin had tasked Johnson with developing the plan based on the three months of community meetings earlier this year.

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More than 100 members of the community, parents, residents, staff members and other stakeholders met for three sessions moderated by Al Annunziata of the New Jersey School Boards’ Association.  The first meeting was devoted to understanding the district’s strengths, challenges and opportunities.  The second was an exercise in visioning for the future of the district.  In the third session participants developed goals and objectives based on the four themes that had emerged from the previous two meetings.  They were:

GOAL 1 Student Achievement; focused on improving student achievement by providing resources to the school community.

  • Increase Access to Early Childhood Education,
  • Increase Access to Rigorous Curriculum for the Middle to High Achieving Students,
  • Develop a Foundation for Elementary World Languages,
  • Continued Investigation of Innovative Teaching and Learning Techniques,
  • Continued On-Going Professional Development to Benefit Every Individual Student

GOAL 2 Community and Communication; improve community communications with all stakeholders including students, parents, staff, community members, colleges and businesses to better support our schools to generate continued participation and maximize student success.

  • Create a District Spotlight to Communicate Information to the Entire Community,
  • Provide Greater Opportunities for Working Parents,
  • Encourage Greater Participation at All School Events,
  • Solicit Feedback from Teachers to Support Families’ Efforts at Home,

GOAL 3 Student Skills for the 21 Century; provide our students with multiple opportunities to develop a foundation of communication, creativity, critical thinking and collaboration and apply these skills.

  • Students will identify, research, analyze and solve problems,
  • Students will develop written and verbal communication skills to enhance cultural awareness and global citizenship,
  • Provide real world experiences to assist student to persevere, utilize technologies  
  • Contribute as an effectgive team member to be successful in an ever-changing global society

GOAL 4 Culture and Climate including upgraded facilities and technology; Create a district-wide climate of learning that encourages individuals and sustains physiological, emotional and academic need while promoting a safe and tolerant educational community.

  • Provide state of the art facilities including athletic turf fields with lights and athletic programs that will allow all student to reach maximum potential and that will accommodate all sports at all levels during every season,
  • Create a safe and secure learning environment that includes exemplary academic programs including full day kindergarten, practices including later start times and facilities including technology that foster 21 century standards and skill,
  • Promote and practice leadership and pride amongst the entire Sparta community,
  • Students will develop strong character skills such as empathy, resilience, self-advocacy, confidence and adaptability and
  • Create a culture of committed life-long learners who model ethical behavior and are positive, responsible global citizens.

Johnson reported action plan items for each of the objectives.  Tobin explained these will be used to develop district goals, a process that has become contentious among board members in the past few years.  The goals, objectives and action plan items will also be used in the budget process when determining priorities.

Several of the initiative in the presentation have been created by Dr Melissa Varley and are already set to be put into the schools beginning this summer and into the next school year.  This fall the district will have full day kindergarten, STEM Academy at the high school, pilot Google Classroom in every school, have the curriculum aligned to the Common Core State Standards, be implementing MAPs testing, offer an expanded catalogue for the Professional Development Academy, and have later start times for some of the schools.

Many of the other initiatives discussed in the Action Plans build on existing and new programs beginning in the fall.  Some will require time to study feasibility, merits, implications and costs.  Still others will require budgetary support from future boards of education.

Johnson said, “I have been impressed by the staff and community members that have taken part in building a strong K-12 district.”

Tobin said, “I believe we have an excellent school district and we provide an excellent comprehensive program for our students.  But we don’t want to rest on our laurels.  We want to continue to move forward.”

The June board of education meeting will be on Monday, June 22 at 7:30 in the auditorium of Mohawk Avenue School.