SPRINGFIELD, NJ - All five school principals were in attendance to present their preliminary 2017 – 2018 budgets. Dr. Susie Hung presented first and spoke of the learning needs of the Pre-K to second grade at the Walton Early Childhood Center. She detailed many programs that integrate technology through STEAM and other programs designed to support and close learning gaps.
Mr. Dave Rennie, Principal of Caldwell Elementary School and Mr. Michael Plias, Principal of the Sandmeier Elementary school gave a joint presentation on how they sustain and enhance programs. All classes now have online components for learning outside the classroom. Technology is being integrated in many different ways and STEM projects are being emphasized. Summer transition programs are offered for students new to the elementary schools.
Mr. Tim Kielty, Principal of Gaudineer Middle School presented the background for what he considered a maintenance budget. He also discussed the need to purchase supplies to support STEAM projects including the 3D printer.
Dr. Norman Francis of Jonathan Dayton High School also presented what he considers to be a maintenance budget. School districts are held to a 2% cap on spending by New Jersey law. He detailed many high school programs the budget will continue to fund: Collegiate Academy, Gifted and Talented programs, SAT preparation courses, the Bridge program for those looking at colleges, etc.
Superintendent Michael Davino emphasized the projections given are preliminary one saying, “There are currently other programs we are evaluating to see if they fit into our budget…they may be implemented.” Any final budget must wait for the Governor’s address and state aid information, which is not expected until March.
After the budget discussion a presentation on the STEAM (Science Technology Engineering, Arts and Math) initiative was made by Gregory Salman, Supervisor of Science and Ronald Slate, Assistant Principal and Supervisor of Visual Performing Arts and Practical Arts. This has been a focus of the district since the laptop project in 2003, which was a “paradigm shift” for the school district according to Supervisor of Science Gregory Salmon. He went onto elaborate that “…in student driven classrooms, students could be presented with a problem… students could try and fail…they could learn from their shortcomings and improve on their skills.”
Much of the emphasis on the presentation was on building skills in a world where technology and automation will replace some jobs. The teachers are trying to use technology to empower students and help them think about what job skills will be important in the future.
A video was showcased that Superintendent Davino shared at the New Jersey Tech Expo in Atlantic City where many school districts participated. Three Jonathan Dayton students produced the video. They are senior Nicholas Del Sordo, junior Nisarg Gandhi and junior Zack Martini. It archived the progress of the SSEP program which is set to launch on February 14. Superintendent Davino said of the effort of these three students, “I have made many presentations; this one was truly exceptional. I hope you realize how fortunate you are because it isn’t happening anywhere else”.
Gandhi stated “he really appreciated the opportunity we had to use the brand new audio lab. We learned how to use it as we went along.” Del Sardo added, “We learned a lot from this project. The first set of music we used didn’t work. We had to start over.”
In the Superintendent’s report Mr. Davino highlighted a few achievements. He congratulated Marinna Kwinta on being Springfield’s representative to the National Women’s and Girl’s Sports Day. The bowling team placed second in Group One for the State. Their record is 12-0 with two matches remaining. Additionally, junior Evan Weinberg qualified for the State Individual Tournament in bowling.
Then, the violence and vandalism report was delivered by the Superintendent. There were 14 incidents from July 1-December 31st 2016. Three were at the Middle School, eight at the High School and two at the Elementary school. No complaints were filed with the police. Out of school suspensions were involved in three cases. Mr. Davino stated, “By all accounts we would like to have all zeroes, but that would not be humanity.”
In the Finance and Personnel report the retirement of Ellyn Atherton, Director of Personnel and Staff Development was reported for July 1, 2017. Many comments were made that she would be greatly missed. Board President Robin Cornelison commented, “You have been a huge part of the district and we have very big shoes to fill.”