Summit Schools Kindergarten Enrollment Mirrors Previous Year, with Future FDK Recommendations Due This Month; Communications Officer Karen Greco to Leave District for Nutley Post

District communications officer Karen Greco is leaving Summit to become Director of Communications at the Nutley public school system. Credits: Summit Public Schools Photo Services

SUMMIT, NJ - Kindergarten enrollment in the city’s public schools for 2016-17 school year is roughly the same as that for the previous school year, school officials reported at the Board of Education workshop session.

Board of Education Committee Chair Debra McCann noted that the Full-Day Kindergarten (FDK) enrollment in each of the three classes at both the Wilson and Jefferson Primary Centers totaled 66 students, bringing the total enrollment to 132.

McCann added that total kindergarten enrollment, including the universal half-day morning and afternoon sessions, was 194 in the two primary centers, with 97 students in each. There were 15 in the morning half-day session and 16 in the afternoon session at Wilson with 17 and 14, respectively, at Jefferson. Last year’s total was 193.

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McCann also announced that Superintendent of Schools June Chang and primary schools Principal Janice Tierney are expected to make their recommendations to the board on next year’s tuition-based FDK program this month, with a school body vote on the recommendations due in October.

The superintendent, in response to a question from former councilman Thomas Getzendanner, said at the workshop session that, although he did not yet have complete enrollment figures, that the total for this school year is expected to be about the same as last year, 4,200 students.

Chang also announced that he expected to mail the latest PARCC test score data to city families by Sept. 19 and would report on the results at the October school body meeting.

In his operations committee report, Board vice president Richard Hanley noted that cost containment for employee health insurance may continue to be somewhat problematic this year, as it was last year. Hanley pointed out that, at the beginning of last year, cost increases were estimated at 12 to 25 percent, but containment efforts brought the increases to around 8 percent by the end of the year.

He said the Board would continue to monitor costs and look at further methods of containment without compromising benefits.

On another matter, Hanley noted that his committee, based on a suggestion from the business office would be recommending that the education body bring in a third-party administrator to more efficiently manage employee pension investment plans.

The operations chairman also pointed out that, statewide, there are cost pressures on student accident insurance programs, and parents, forced to pay higher co-pays and other costs on personal policies, are relying more heavily on school district-provided policies to pick up some of those costs.

The committee also will be keeping a close eye on that area this year, Hanley noted.

On communications, chairwoman Debbie Chang reported her committee is reviewing the district social media strategy, which currently principally relies on Facebook postings.

Although she said the overall city response is fairly robust, she noted that students tend to use other social media such as Instagram and Snapchat more frequently than Facebook. The communications chairwoman also said that her committee was exploring measurement of “click-throughs” to better track the effectiveness of district messages.

Chang said that, although Twitter is an option, its 140-character limit makes in somewhat limited. In response to a question from board member Vanessa Primack, the superintendent said he was exploring ways to provide links to district messages on the other social media.

He also said the administration is looking at more effective ways to utilize the new district website to disburse information. She added that the district will be working on an “app” for the Summit public schools, but preparation and release of the app would take about a year.

Additionally, the district is looking on the use of Google Calendar so city parents will be able to receive the district calendar on their personal mobile devices.

In a communications-related matter, Karen Greco, the District's Communications Officer will -- effective September 29 -- be leaving the Summit Public Schools to become Director of Communications for the Nutley public school system. There, she will be reunited with Dr. Julie Glazer, former Summit Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction, who left Summit to become Nutley's Superintendent of public schools.

Greco joined the District in 2012 from Time, Inc., and was the catalyst for myriad communications initiatives, including the complete overhaul and upgrade of the District's digital presence.

At the workshop meeting, the Board approved a job description, at the recommendation of the Superintendent,  which will create a combined position of executive assistant to the superintendent / communications officer.

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