SUMMIT, NJ - The first Board of Education meeting of the 2019-20 school year featured a broad overview of the District’s performance, successes, and new initiatives with milestones marked, and several presentations on the 2018-2019 State Testing Data;  2019-2020 District Goals; and the Buildings & Grounds Summer Projects.

Summit School Superintendent June Chang said that he is ready to begin “Phase Two” of his tenure in the District, and will direct his team to focus on “STEAM initiatives, curriculum programming, social-emotional learning, teaching practices, and data utilization.”

Chang said, “We are committed and excited about what we will accomplish in the next five years. I am really proud of our accomplishments over the last five years and happy with the results that have added value to our District. I acknowledge all of the hard work it took to get us to this place; it was a true team effort.”

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“I don’t know anyone who does it better,” he said.

State Testing Data

Director or Education Jennifer McCann and Assistant Director of Education Tanya Lopez reported on the PARCC data for 2018-19.  PARCC is now called NJSLA -- New Jersey Student Learning Assessments. This is the fourth time the test has been given.

McCann said that the District has all the information, and parents will receive individualized reports on their students over the next few weeks.  

She said that for the last three years the number of students taking the test has been fairly consistent, with the exception of last year’s Grade 11, which was only four percent. This is because the state requirement for graduation changed

Numbers were presented by grade levels for English / Language Arts and Mathematics, and then specifically for each school.

When there is a dip -- such as in fifth grade math across the board with the number of students “meeting” and “exceeding” expectations dropping from 84 to 74 percent -- McCann said that they look to see if there is a problem with the curriculum at the District level or in “a specific building.”   

Another area of concern presented in Grade 8 Math. While the number of students who met and exceeded goals increased from 41 to 59 percent, that is still not a number that the District is satisfied with.

“Teachers are using IXL to improve skills and it’s really paid off; I hope to continue to see this trend increase,” she said.

A snapshot from a few different schools:

In Brayton’s fifth grade, there was a jump in math students meeting or exceeding expectations from 59 to 86 percent between 2016-17 and 2017-18, but then it leveled back down to 71 percent in 2018-19.

In Franklin, for the same skills, same time period, the numbers jumped from 80 to 94 percent, and then back down to 80.

At Jefferson, English/Language Arts continues to show improvement with the numbers growing from 69 percent for the fourth grade in 2016-17 to 89 percent in 2017-18 and then 90 percent last year.

Lincoln-Hubbard reports the steadiest scores of all schools in both English/Language Arts and Math.

At Washington, scores went down for every grade level in both English/Language Arts and Math from 2017-18 to 2018-19, with the exception of fifth grade Language Arts, which increased from 85 to 92 percent meets or exceeds expectations.

At Lawton C. Johnson Summit Middle School (LCJSMS), scores for Algebra I were at 100 or 99 percent for the past two years.

At Summit High School (SHS), Grade 10 English Language Arts continues to improve, with numbers growing from 51 percent,to 81 percent, to 83 percent last year for meets or exceeds expectations.

Parent Sarah Bird asked if each school was held accountable for its numbers.

Chang said that accountability is at two different levels -- from the State and in the evaluation process.

“We look at the data and see where and how to improve,” he said.

He said that the District does not report out on specific demographics and sub-groups because in some cases that would make certain students scores identifiable.  

“Teachers get individual scores with student names,” he said.

The full assessment data report can be found here.

District Goals

The second presentation of the evening was on District Goals, presented by Chang and McCann.

Chang said, “An important priority for the District this year is to further develop both individualized learning and experiential learning.”

“The goals represent an even deeper commitment to these initiatives,” he said.

“Achieving these goals will allow us to strengthen the base from which we continue to foster academic success for STEAM, curriculum and programming, teaching practices, data, and career and social readiness,” he said.

The first goal focuses on academics in Mathematics and Language Arts. It states that all students in Grades K-8, plus those taking Algebra I in ninth grade will master targeted math and ELA skills.  

Chang said that because the students are self-identifying skills, they have developed ownership over their learning.  

The next step, he said, is to broaden individualized learning experiences.

The second goal evaluates current programming, and creates a revision plan to identify opportunities for experiential learning. The goal states that education is a field that is constantly evolving and changing, and it equips teachers with the tools they need to offer a well-balanced academic experience, ensure the full development of students, and foster a love of learning.

The third goal focuses on social emotional learning with emphasis on coping skills like stress management and self management; strengthens culturally-inclusive learning; and seeks to adapt to new educational research and trends.   

Summer Projects

Assistant Superintendent for Business Lou Pepe gave a report on construction projects that were completed by the District this summer.  He recognized Director of Facilities Angelo Palumbo and Supervisor of Maintenance Michael Martino for their work on the projects.  

Projects include making room for the Full-Day Kindergarten expansion, updating a storage facility at Franklin school, reconfiguring the main office at LCJSMS, and updating the high school's Main Gym.

Pepe said that if these projects were completed by an outside contractor, they would have cost $49,000, but utilizing in-house custodial and maintenance personnel cost the district $21,700.

The dollar cost savings were reinvested in the program,” he said. “It all goes back into the classroom.”

In addition, the high school's Upper Turf Field was replaced and drainage and depressions and ponding were addressed; a new scoreboard and flag pole were installed; a fencing project was completed; and the area was landscaped. Total cost for the turf field project was $1.2 million.

Pepe described the area as “stunning,” and compared it to a “collegiate field.”

He said that partnering with the City of Summit allowed the District to save funds as well.  

“I couldn’t be more pleased with the result,’ he said,

The high school roof was analyzed, and was found to be in need of repair. If the project were to be completed at once, it would cost $5 million, so the District will address what areas need immediate attention.  

Board Member Michael Colon, subbing for Education Committee Chair Donna Miller, said that the first-day-of-school numbers for the first year of the Full-Day Kindergarten program were 259, which is a “substantial uptick” over last year.

He said that the District will be partnering with Kean University for a holocaust program, one that utilizes their content and curriculum in conjunction with the Summit High School Holocaust and Genocide Studies class.  The class will actually provide college credit and it will cost $300 to participate.   

The 2021-22 school calendar has been drafted and will be presented at a future Board meeting and will be approved in the spring.

Board member Chris Bonner in the Operations Committee report said that the seven additional sections that were added resulted in a $152,000 payroll shortfall.  Five of these classes were put back based on class-size guidelines, and two more were based on enrollment, Bonner said.  

Bonner said that while this is “not necessarily ideal,” that you “can’t always predict the outcome at the end of the school year.”

With seven additional sections the deficit could have been even higher, but with retirements and breakage, costs were kept down.

At the onset of the meeting, newly-tenured professional staff and those with 25 years of service were recognized. 

Board President Vanessa Primack said of them, “In order to have excellence in education, you need excellent educators.”

The Tenured staff include:

Anne Paris

Jennifer Parkes

Carrie Nugent

Matthew Schachtel

Ilanit Kaplan

Arthur Rodgers

Kristen Scaglione

Samantha Barrows

Matthew Carder

Awilda Jerez

Diane Silvester

Alexandra Aguiar

Karen Doherty

Rebecca Hoffler

Mallory Mortillaro

Alexander Whiteside

Cheryl Adair

Simone Baskerville

Noreen Bovery

Carlos Garcia

Rose McCauley

James Siracusa

Janice Tierney

Mia Bivaletz

Donna Schneider

Carrie Leshin

Nicole Plevniak

Those with 25 years of service include:

Ron Cooper, Audio Visual Technician

Thomas Maliszewski, Supervisor of Fine, Performing & Practical Arts

John Ross, LCJSMS Science Teacher

Pat Walsh, Transition Coordinator

Primack, in her introduction of the four, said that they all shared a “passion and vision” for Summit schools.  

Cooper, she said, is an “integral member of the tech department; he never shied away from wanting to solve a problem.”

Under Maliszewski’s direction, Primack said, students have “so many remarkable opportunities to explore the arts.”

Ross, she said, is “a product of the Summit Public Schools.” He has taught science for 25 years at the middle school. She said that he “takes it to the next level of excellence.”

Primack said that Pat Walsh “sees possibilities in every student.” She “makes for a more rich, vibrant, successful community,” she said.  Walsh, in her dealing with special-needs students knows the importance of “self-advocacy,” Primack said.  “She doesn’t see barriers; she uses challenges to reach greater heights.” 

New Summit High School Assistant Principal Elizabeth Aaron also was welcomed.