WEST CALDWELL, NJ — Kaitlin Jones, Assistant Superintendent of Caldwell-West Caldwell Public Schools, recently presented the results of the New Jersey Student Learning Assessment (NJSLA) Science examination, which has replaced the New Jersey Assessment of Skills and Knowledge (NJASK). 

She explained that the NJSLA, which was administered in spring of 2019, tested fifth, eighth and 11th grade students while the NJASK had previously tested students in grades four and eight as well as students who completed the district’s basic biology course.

“As a district, we are proud of our teachers’ hard work in engaging our students in inquiry-driven, hands-on and standards-aligned science instruction,” said Jones. “We are also looking forward to seeing the positive impact over time as our littlest learners experience our newly launched elementary Smithsonian Science Program.”

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The results were grouped into four levels with level three representing “proficient” and level four indicating “advanced proficient,” according to Jones. She stated that levels one and two are indicative of students who are not proficient in the subject matter. 

The comparison between the district results versus state results were presented as follows: 

Level 3 & 4 (Proficient & Advanced Proficient)

Grade               District              State

5th grade           35.4%              29.3%

8th grade           18.2%              19.8%

11th grade         52.0%              27.3%

The full presentation can be found on the district’s website in its entirety.

During public comment, resident Chris Elko inquired about the impact that Trinity Academy’s closing would have on enrollment in the public school system. He also asked whether the district would consider utilizing the vacant school building in the event of potential enrollment increases.

In response, Superintendent of Schools Dr. James Heinegg indicated that a handful of Trinity Academy families have already contacted the Caldwell-West Caldwell district about enrolling their children, but stated that the “overall impact will depend somewhat on the particular grade levels at the end that [the district] receive[s] enrollment requests for.” 

Heinegg also said that although he plans to meet with representatives from Trinity Academy to discuss the future, the district currently does not know “exactly what the long-term interests are for the diocese.”

In other news, the board also adopted the 2020-2021 Tax Levy Requirements for the Borough of Caldwell and Township of West Caldwell. The total amount of tax levy, including the debt service for Caldwell, was approved at $15,272,254.

The total amount to be collected from West Caldwell, including debt service, is $33,317,595, and the combined tax levy for both communities is $48,589,849.  The combined local tax levy for the 2019-2020 school year is $45,232,743.

The board also unanimously approved a side-bar agreement with the Caldwell-West Caldwell Education Association regarding health benefits, which was executed to provide an “incentive to employees to choose low costs plans,” according to Business Administrator Thomas Lambe.

Additionally, the board accepted two grants from the U.S. Lacrosse Foundations with an estimated value between $7,500 and $15,000.

The “TryLax Grant” includes a free clinic, lacrosse stick, ball and U.S. Lacrosse membership for between 60 and 100 first-time lacrosse players ages 6-14, split equally between boy and girl participants.

The second grant focused on physical education—specifically for “Soft Lacrosse” equipment at the elementary schools.

“We will partner with the Caldwell Lacrosse Club for the clinic,” said Lambe. “The second component is the "Soft Lacrosse" physical education equipment for our elementary schools. Soft lacrosse—with an oversized cross (making it easier to catch) and a softer ball (making it safer)—is especially good for grades K-2.”

The next board of education regular meeting will be held on June 8.