WEST ORANGE, NJ — More than two hours of Monday’s West Orange Board of Education (WOBOE) meeting was devoted to a review of year one of the district’s five-year strategic plan.

Eveny de Mendez, assistant superintendent of schools, evaluated the achievements made toward the plan’s four major goals: facilities and program accessibility, readiness for the future, holistic health, and more parent-school-community engagement.

When it comes to the facilities, overcrowding is the major issue, according to de Mendez. She said that an architect will be reviewing all the facilities this summer to give the township a “school capacity assessment” and initial recommendations for what can be adjusted to improve the schools’ functional and educational capacity.

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De Mendez said progress has been made toward the second goal of making sure students are ready for the future. One of the goals, which was to have a minimum of 70 percent of students in K-5 reading at grade level, has been obtained in year one of the plan, according to de Mendez.

Cheryl Butler, director of student personnel services and counseling, spoke about the strides being made to improve counseling services in West Orange High School and throughout the district.

“We are developing baseline data to improve our school counseling program,” she said. “This will enable us to better evaluate the use of the counselor’s time.”

Butler reported that counselors in West Orange public schools are now meeting the American School Counselors Association standard of spending at least 80 percent of the time providing students with direct and indirect services.

Board member Mark Robertson questioned de Mendez about what he viewed as the poor way grammar is being taught to students in the district. She responded that grammar education is being reexamined in the higher grades, and that she is encouraged that the Foundations program is being integrated into the curriculum and making a positive impact on reading and improved grammar in grades K-5.

To read more about this meeting, where the board approved a contract with the West Orange Education Association, click HERE.

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