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Technology, Testing Key Goals for Green Brook Schools

Superintendent's 'state of the schools' presentation outlines four main areas.

Developing a strategic plan, expanding alternative sources of revenue and improving student achievement are three of the goals the Green Brook School District has its sights set on in 2012-13.

One week into the 2012-13 school year, district administrators reviewed 2011-12 and outlined their goals for the current school year at Monday’s Board of Education meeting. Special Board of Education goals will be established in January 2013, following reorganization.

Superintendent of Schools Dr. Richard Labbe, in his “state of the schools” presentation, outlined four main goals:

1. To continue to encourage and educate parents, students and community members through technological tools.

“We want to utilize and expand technology as both an instructional and administrative tool,” Labbe said. Among the changes are utilizing iPads and Netbooks, a new website, a parent portal for parents of K-8 students to monitor students’ progress, and saving significantly by doing payroll in-house through the CSI system.

2. To complete a strategic plan for the district.

“The demographics of Green Brook are changing. We need to identify the changes and develop a long-term strategic action plan,” Labbe said. He noted that enrollment declined by 65 students this year and is expected to drop by another 25-30 students in the next school year.

Labbe also said that the district will need to address “changes being imposed upon us by the State of New Jersey.”

3. To expand alternate sources of revenue.

“We need to find alternate ways to pay for the things that we need for our children to be successful and stay within the state-mandated 2 percent cap,” the superintendent explained.

4. To focus on student achievement.

While last year’s NJASK results “fell short” in some areas, Labbe stressed the need to “promote the success of our students–that’s our primary goal.” The district is setting goals of 3 percent increases in language arts and math skills in NJASK testing, which Labbe said is “something that we can certainly achieve.”

Among the goals, Labbe said, has been “to develop a budget process that is transparent to the board and community.” He noted the district will once again host presentations on different aspects of the budget “so our community can come out and gain greater clarity on how we’re proposing to spend our money.”

In the area of finance, Business Administrator Michael Colling stressed the goal of “providing the best education for the students of Green Brook while keeping the needs of taxpayers in mind.” He said that savings are being seen as a result of moving the school board election to November, refunding bonds and through the use of solar panels.

The 2011-12 school year saw the district’s transportation department rank as the second most efficient in Somerset County (after four years of leading the pack) and saving money through such moves as the use of inter-local fueling, a decrease in overtime hours, and using a shuttle to consolidate transportation to Vo-Tech. There was also a revenue source by creating jointures with other districts, a source which is expected to bring in more than $100,000 in 2012-13.

Tim Charleston, district IT coordinator, said the goal to “use technology to promote 21st Century skills without our students.”  He detailed the number of computers and Apple devices in the district and pointed out that both schools are now completely wireless. He also noted investigating the expanded use of eBackpack virtual classrooms, implementing a Disaster Recovery Plan for off-site backup and “continuing to decrease energy consumption with smarter purchase options.”

Among other presenters at Monday’s meeting were Donna L. Cook, who spoke about Curriculum, Green Brook Middle School Principal Linda Pollard and IEF Elementary School Principal Armand Lamberti.

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