September 1, 2007

Bergen County


With the district's nearly $5 million improvement project wrapping up, Brookside and Hillside schools are opening with new windows and boilers. Brookside also has a new auditorium.

For the first time, certified Spanish teachers will be assigned to the elementary school grades and physical education teachers and school nurses are starting a wellness program. The aim: to get more parents to provide children with healthy foods and snacks.

Also new this year is a revised code of conduct. It details what the district considers acceptable behavior and the consequences of violating the rules.


Information was not provided by the district.


The district will open the Alternative Middle School for underachieving students and move the alternative high school to St. Mary's School in Dumont. In addition, the Tri-Valley Academy, a school for students with autism run by Bergenfield, Dumont, and New Milford, will open a program for adolescents with autism in 2008 in the St. Mary's building.


Educators will start a new technology design program for the sixth and seventh grades. Students will be able to apply the technology to aviation, sound systems and home economics.


Several elementary schools will add popular after-school programs. At Schools 4 and 5, students for the first time will be able to get tutoring between 3 and 4 p.m. as part of a Homework Club. School 5 will also offer extracurricular activities such as art and cooking classes until 5:45 p.m. A new world language teacher will bring more Spanish classes to the elementary school grades. The administration also plans to host quarterly meetings with parents. The first is at 7 p.m. Oct. 16 at the district's offices.


Poet/teacher Taylor Mali will be a poet-in-residence, holding workshops with fourth-grade and middle school students. The district will also work to improve communication between the Tenakill Middle and Hillside Elementary schools which are about a mile apart. The schools will be launching a math curriculum that will involve a hands-on approach.


Second- and seventh-grade students will be able to learn Chinese. The Chinese government is paying all the expenses of the teacher, who is being flown in from China. The funding is only for one year, but the district plans to hire its own teacher next year, said Superintendent Charles Khoury.

The schools will begin tracking each student's performance. Students between kindergarten and 10th grade will be tested each year in math and language to identify strengths and weaknesses. The results will allow teachers to tailor a lesson to an individual student's needs, Khoury said. The junior and senior high school students will also have a new gym and fitness center.


Heart monitors, pedometers and computer-generated spreadsheets will help physical education students set and follow fitness goals. Math classes will become more rigorous, particularly in fourth through eighth grades, where tests will be used to target student weaknesses.

In January, a new superintendent will begin work. Lawrence Hughes, who has held the position for seven years, plans to retire.


The district is installing a security system that includes cameras in its five schools. All visitors will have to show identification, which will be checked against a national database of sexual predators.

The high school is also starting an out-of-school suspension program modeled after the county's Suspension Alternative Program. Students will participate in a full day of activities, including counseling and community service. The high school will also begin offering a sign language course.

For the first time, the district will allow parents of middle schoolers to access their children's grades and attendance on the Internet, a program already in place at the high school.

Dumont is also trying to include more special-needs children in regular classes. Lincoln School will offer an inclusion program for six special-needs children in kindergarten in partnership with the Bergen County Special Services. At the Selzer School, the district will do the same for about 15 pre-K special-needs children. Both classes will have special educational teachers trained in occupational and speech therapy.


Instead of being set up in a separate computer lab, laptops will be wheeled into classrooms.

The district recently ordered two new carts with 40 laptops equipped with wireless Internet access. Alfred S. Faust School already had a mobile unit from last year.

"It provides for a true integration of technology into the curriculum," said Superintendent Gayle Strauss.Also, in an effort to increase math scores, the district will begin an accelerated program that uses software to evaluate students' strengths and weaknesses.

Two new math teachers have been hired for the middle school and an extra basic skills instructor assigned to McKenzie School.


Replacement of the roof at the Eleanor Van Gelder School is expected to be completed by September.

A new vice principal, Kerstin Stewart-Maiullo, will be at the school. She comes from Pequannock, where she was a counselor at the high school.


The district is launching all-day kindergarten.

"The research indicates that the more work we do with students prior to first grade, the more successful they are in elementary school," said Superintendent Joseph Casapulla.

Other programs will be expanded, as well including preschool handicapped disabled classes that will aid up to 24 students, and a high school behavior disabilities class for up to 12 students, Casapulla said. The district's enrollment is about 2,200 students.

Casapulla estimated that more than $400,000 will be saved next year by keeping special needs students in the district. It's possible to keep more students in district because of a recently completed $44 million renovation.


A $200,000 government grant will help the district teach more special needs students in general education classrooms in the fourth and fifth grades of Villano Elementary School.

The district is also installing 12 "SMART boards," interactive whiteboards that connect to computers. The high school is adding an engineering course and reinstating the robotics course. It will offer free SAT preparation classes for the first time.


Incoming freshmen at Dwight Morrow High School will be required to pick a specialty and take classes in it all four years of high school. The specialties are: fine arts and music, sports leadership, international studies and global commerce, liberal arts and health sciences. The students will take about six courses in their area of interest during high school. Assistant Superintendent Mike Polizzi said the specialties are like "small learning communities focused on a theme."


Sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders will take pre-engineering classes that focus on architectural design.

Students will be taught to design large-scale projects such as bridges and roller coasters on a computer. They will then build models of their designs.

"We felt this was a natural progression for children," said Superintendent Philomena T. Pezzano. "We already have a technology component, but this is much more intense and more of the engineering concepts will be drawn out."


The school district will add classes in Mandarin Chinese as part of a national push to increase the number of Americans who speak languages considered critical to the global economy.

The district and Northern Valley Regional will share more than $300,000 from a government grant to implement a Chinese language and cultural program over three years.

Fair Lawn will begin instruction next fall in Mandarin for Grades 5, 6 and 7, with limited enrollment in Grades 6 and 7 based on an admission essay, a statement of parental support and a commitment to study the language through middle school, said Jean Modig, world languages supervisor.

Courses will be offered to eighth-grade students in September 2008. Plans include high school and Advanced Placement Chinese classes.

The district also plans to start a new physics program Physics First for eighth-graders, Superintendent Bruce Watson said.

While students traditionally take biology and chemistry before physics, the program reverses the typical sequence, offering physics to eighth-graders in advanced classes.

"It's a well-documented program that has shown that younger students who take physics, which incorporates a lot of math, are more prepared for the high school experience and the science classes that follow," Watson said.


Nearly 20 percent of the borough's youngest residents will go to a new school because the district has moved grade levels around in its four buildings.

The move, approved in June, will give grade-school teachers the ability to better communicate with one another because they will be in the same building.


The district is renewing its focus on reading for students in Grades 3 to 6 through the Rutgers Literacy Curriculum Network, a consortium of school districts involved in literacy instruction, said Dr. Joseph Miceli, assistant superintendent of schools.

A performing arts academy, a "school within a school," is starting up at the high school. The program, for which students must apply, will offer a piano/keyboarding class, honors courses in wind- instrument instruction and dance lessons.

The project replacing the facade of School 1 on Hoym Street is scheduled to be completed by September.


The district is bringing in literacy coaches and math and language arts coordinators to help teachers, Superintendent Roger Bayersdorfer said.

The coordinators will teach for part of the day and work with the teachers of sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders the rest of the time. The literacy coaches' job is to help improve student writing and reading.

The district is also offering a new preschool and Italian courses for middle school students.


The long-anticipated Garfield Middle School is expected to open early in the school year, said Superintendent Nicholas Perrapato.

An enormous gym, big classrooms and a variety of special-study amenities including a greenhouse are among its many features.

"It's hard to truly explain how breathtaking it is," said Perrapato, who has worked for the district for 38 years.

The school year will also see the opening of the Bergen Arts and Sciences Charter School on MacArthur Avenue. However, Perrapato said he doesn't know of any students from the district who plan to go there.


Students at Glen Rock High School will walk into a new digital photo lab in September.

"Glen Rock has an extensive photography program and it's time to move over to digital," said Kathleen Regan, the district's director of curriculum and instruction.

All middle and high school teachers will receive laptop computers that will allow them to create lesson plans, homework assignments and video clips, Regan said. The acquisition of the laptops gives teachers more time for classroom instruction.

A new gifted and talented curriculum is being created for the eighth grade, and high school students will now have the option of taking Advanced Placement courses in micro- and macroeconomics. The high school will also add a course on Web site design, Regan said.


City schools will be offering Mandarin Chinese come September.

Fourth-graders will be learning the language and about Chinese culture from Zhu Jing, 26, a teacher who will be coming to the district from China. Jing, who teaches English in China and lives in the Hunan Province, is participating in the Visiting Chinese Teacher Program. The Chinese government pays the teacher's salary while the school district pays housing costs.

"I want them to learn about the eastern world and some of its unique cultures," Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction Michael Wojcik said.

Over at the middle school, an Academic Attainment Committee composed of teachers will be in charge of analyzing state standardized test scores and figuring out ways to improve, Wojcik said. The district's middle school has been classified in "need of improvement" for the past several years for not meeting benchmarks set by the federal No Child Left Behind Act.

The high school will be offering two more Advanced Placement courses: environmental science and a course on government designed for English as a second language students.

The high school will also be adding two more electives, a Latin American studies class and a Black studies course.


The district is beginning an early education program for kindergarten students called Bright From the Start. Children who need an extra educational boost will start kindergarten two weeks early. The district will also have a new principal, Brian Gatens. Gatens is replacing Scott Davies, who will be the new principal at Gibbs Elementary School in New Milford.


Parents will be able to view their children's test scores online beginning in October and students will start the school year with 170 new computers.

In addition, the Depken Field project is nearing completion. It will feature artificial turf baseball and football fields, a rubber track and a skate park.

The complex will be open until 10 p.m. nightly.


Starting in the fall, small groups of middle school students will meet weekly with a teacher to discuss issues such as peer pressure or academic concerns.


The district has a new superintendent and new assistant principal. James Jencarelli, the former principal of the high school, is the new superintendent. David Mango is the new assistant principal.


Hillsdale has several new staff members coming into the elementary schools.

The middle school assistant principal will become the principal of the Meadowbrook Elementary school. Rick Spirito is replacing Donna Marie Cozine who is relocating to Rochester.

Also, Lynn O'Conner, a Board of Education member for 20 years and board president for 13, has resigned.

The board has revised the physical education and health curriculum.


The elementary school will be installing SMART boards, interactive white boards that allow students to view an educational link straight from a computer screen. The boards, funded by taxpayers and private donations, will be used in the middle school grades, Superintendent Loretta Bellina said.


The Anna C. Scott Elementary school will start a new autism program to complement the one in the middle school. The middle school will open with two new science labs and two new science classrooms. Chinese will be taught at the high school for the first time.

The district will also see some administrative changes. Michele Simon, who was vice principal at the elementary school, will be the new middle school principal. Maureen Willis, who was the middle school principal, will become the elementary school principal.


Voters will go to the polls in December to decide on a $12 million plan to demolish Washington School and add a wing to Memorial School and repair its roof.


Information was not provided by the district.


The district will begin an improved math curriculum for seventh- and eighth-graders known as Connected Math II.


The high school will offer three new courses this year: interior structure and design, international business and a sports and entertainment marketing course.

Renovations to the track closed for three years because of safety concerns have been completed.


Construction projects will be completed in both of the district's schools this week.

Maywood Avenue School will have renovated classrooms, a new locker room and a new media center.

Memorial School will have eight new classrooms, a new gym, media center and cafeteria.


The Robert L. Craig School will combine its kindergarten and first grade for students with multiple disabilities.


New principals will take over at two schools. Scott Davies, most recently the principal at Harrington Park School, will take over at Gibbs, while Vice Principal Eric Sheninger will move up to principal.

Italian will be a new option for students at the middle and high schools. High school students will now take biology as freshmen, chemistry as sophomores and physics as juniors to match up with the state's new testing. And a new freshman course will focus on technology and computer skills.


The district will start its Virtual High School, an Internet- based program for its 11th- and 12th-grade students. Students will be able to take a wide variety of new electives including Chinese and engineering for high school students. The district will also start an autistic program for its pre-kindergarten class.


The district is starting a new reading and writing series in Grade 2 and a new handwriting program, Handwriting Without Tears, in kindergarten and Grade 1. Second- and third-graders will also be exposed to new handwriting lessons.


The high school is fine-tuning some of its major initiatives such as its science sequence, which is following the Physics First philosophy. Students are taking physics in ninth grade, chemistry in 10th grade and biology in 11th. Proponents say students who understand the difficult math concepts in physics have an easier time absorbing the science courses that follow.

The school, in Allendale, has also expanded it Syracuse University forensics program to a full year. Teachers trained by the university lead the course and students who pass receive college credit.

"It has expanded because of student interest, success, and excellent support from Syracuse," Principal John Keenan said.

The district's newest Advanced Placement course in U.S. government has doubled in enrollment, Keenan said. Students will also find new seats in the planetarium. The roof has been repaired and some technology updated. Fund-raising efforts continue for the facility, which is also used by outside groups.


The district is beginning a new Chinese language course. The program is designed to give students an introduction to Mandarin and to the culture.


Full-day kindergarten will begin in September.

The sixth grade, the talented and gifted program and some special education students will be moving to new classrooms, and all children will have a new lunchroom.

The district has contracted with Verizon to obtain broadband access to the Internet, which will make for a better connection for the wireless laptops in classrooms.


Valley Middle School students and staff will finally get to come in out of the rain now that crews have installed a new roof.

It is part of almost $1.2 million in infrastructure improvements that were done over the summer, Superintendent Richard Heflich said. The electrical systems, first wired in the 1950s and 1960s, are being upgraded.

The work should be completed by the time children arrive for school.


The newly renovated elementary school will feature a new media center, gymnasium, early childhood learning center, technology labs and arts classrooms, along with several refurbished classrooms. The $9.9 million project was approved by voters in 2004.

The district is also working with the River Edge and River Dell school districts to develop a regional K-12 curriculum in several subject areas.


The district has added a part-time technology teacher for K-4 students. The teacher will conduct workshops for instructors who will learn how to integrate technology into the rest of the curriculum. The K-4 early academic support services program will be bolstered, providing selected students with intensive instruction in reading and mathematics. Charles DeWolf Middle School will add a basic skills teacher who will give reading and math lessons to small groups of students.


Most of this year's changes affect the lower grades. They include a new guidance counselor and the first science lab at Lindbergh Elementary. After-school tutoring will be available for Grades 3 to 8, and the district has added a Korean ESL teacher for kindergarten and first-graders. The district is also updating its stock of Mac computers in the high school and middle school.


Soil with high levels of pesticides has been removed from West Brook Middle School and Memorial Elementary school, and school officials expect both schools will open on time. Damage to the gymnasium at Paramus High School might also cause delays and the need to reschedule activities.


The district will start a film production and cable TV class where students will produce a documentary about the 200th anniversary of its schools.


A new international business class and new courses in anatomy and physiology will be offered. The district will combine English and social studies courses for 11th-graders. The two-period, two- teacher class will allow students to learn American history while also studying literature of the same era.

Pascack Hills High School will reopen with refurbished classrooms and new and renovated science labs. Renovations at Pascack Valley High School, including a new auditorium, science wing and spectator gym, will be finished by early fall.


The district will replace PowerSchool, a student information system that gives parents access to attendance, grades and other data, with a new system called Genesis, Superintendent Paul Saxton said.

The district made the switch because PowerSchool was unreliable, Saxton said.

"We just couldn't count on it," he said. "Every time they said, 'We have a new download,' everyone would hold their breath."

Genesis also allows staffers to do complex data searches about students. For example, Saxton said, if several students come down with measles, staffers can use Genesis to search for commonalities in their schedules.


The high school will have a new principal, Richard Lio, formerly the principal of Sparta High School. Lio spent 26 years at Ramsey before leaving for Sparta. Now he's returning to the borough's schools.

The high school has joined into a new partnership with Ramapo College. A Ramsey High School teacher will be trained as an adjunct professor and some college students will tutor high school students in English.

"It gives the students at Ramapo experience in schools and helps our students as well," Superintendent Roy R. Montesano said.

A newly renovated art room will also open at the high school and students will be able to take smaller, more focused English elective courses, including one that deals exclusively with Shakespeare and another on British authors.


Nothing new this year.


A new principal, Marianne Zarcadoolas, starts at Roosevelt Elementary School. She comes to the district from South Orangetown, N.Y., where she was assistant principal of the middle school.


A new honors course will be added to the calculus classes at the high school, said Regina Lemerich Botsford, the assistant superintendent for curriculum, instruction and assessment. The course will complement Advanced Placement calculus AB, calculus C and calculus D.

Students taking a new senior yearbook course at the high school will learn the publication process, including photography, copywriting, art, layout, finance, advertising and computer- assisted design, Botsford said. A state-of-the-art language lab is also set to open at the high school.

The Ridgewood Academy for Health Professionals is expanding. About 120 students in Grades 10, 11 and 12 will be mentored by doctors, hospital staff and faculty in partnership with The Valley Hospital and Bergen Community College.

The George Washington and Benjamin Franklin middle schools are offering two new courses: world history for Grade 8 and pre-algebra for Grade 7, Botsford said. The math course is a continuation of the new core instructional program implemented last year in Grade 6. It's designed to prepare students for eighth-grade algebra, Botsford said.


The newly renovated high school boasts $28.9 million in improvements, including more than a dozen new classrooms, a gymnasium and improvements to the library, art rooms and the technology and computer labs.

Students will face a new random drug testing policy, which is mandatory for anyone who participates in an extracurricular club or drives to school. The school has revamped its attendance policy and its code of conduct.


The New Bridge Center, a new wing at Cherry Hill Elementary School, will open this fall with 140 kindergarten students and about 20 special-needs students.

Kindergarten classes are expanding from a half-day to a modified full-day, which splits the week between half and full days. The center will also be home to two classes for autistic students, one for preschoolers and one for elementary students.


The K-8 district, along with the Pascack Valley Regional High School District, received a $64,500 state foreign language instruction grant, which it will use to develop an interdisciplinary Asian studies program at the elementary level and Chinese language courses at the middle school.


The district has a new sixth-grade language teacher, new English as a second language teacher and a new secretary to the superintendent.

It has also purchased two new SMART boards, interactive white boards that allow students to view an educational link straight from a computer screen.


Beginning this school year, the district will have a formal grading policy that uses numbers instead of letters to assess students' progress from kindergarten through second grade.

Youngsters in kindergarten through Grade 2 are now given a combination of the letters S, I, N, indicating "satisfactory,""improving" and "needs improvement."

Under the new system, a "1" on a kindergarten report card would indicate strength in the subject area, a "2" that the student is developing and requires support and practice, "3" additional growth is needed and "4" that the skill was not being assessed at that level.

A similar number system will begin in Grades 1 and 2, with "1" being independent, "2" developing or refining, and "3" emerging.

School officials said the new grading system is more descriptive and will give parents a better understanding of their children's progress.


The district is slowly phasing out vocational classes, such as wood shop, in favor of technology and engineering courses.

Students in the Synergies and Pathways program will work at computer modules simulating real life scenarios and activities that involve problem solving skills.

Synergies will be offered as an elective for middle school students while Pathways will be available at the high school, Superintendent Harry Groveman said.

"If they're working on an aeronautics module, they'll be asked to work on a team and build a model, an airplane, for example, Groveman said.

"If they want to become engineers, they will be ahead of the game by the time they get to college," he said.


Wandell Elementary School, the district's only pre-K to Grade 5 school, has installed a television studio for fourth- and fifth- grade students interested in writing and producing a new television show or newscast, said Superintendent David Goldblatt.

The students will research, write, report and anchor the show, said library media specialist Roberta Kleinbard, a veteran of the television industry.

"The goal is to teach the children about the ins and outs of a television show that will air weekly in our school," he said.

The Wandell Education Foundation will pay for the equipment, Goldblatt said.


The district is completing a long-term construction project in Memorial School.

"The end of a long journey is coming," said William DeFabiis, the superintendent.

With the construction complete, there will be enough classrooms for small group instruction, music and art rooms, a new computer lab and a new media center.


The district is adding several new courses.

Sophomores, juniors and seniors will be able to choose U.S. history 1 honors and U.S. history 2 honors. Algebra 1 will be taught in eighth grade instead of ninth and a course in Latin, which was canceled several years ago, will resume.


Middle and high school students will be able to take Mandarin Chinese for the first time. The high school is opening a Learning Center, which will provide teachers in math teacher and English for students who need extra help.

A new fitness center will open at the high school. Students will be able to take advantage of the elliptical machines, runners, free weights and staff to develop a nutrition program or create an exercise program.


Cavallini Middle School has hired a computer applications teacher who will be working to get a television studio up and running, said Superintendent Joyce Snider.

The district is installing 27 new SMART Boards, interactive whiteboards, in all three schools. The Upper Saddle River Educational Foundation provided the funding.

"This will greatly enhance instruction for both teacher and student use," Snider said.


The locker rooms at the high school/middle school are getting a make-over and the Little Theater will get new seating and carpeting.

At least a dozen teachers, including a new football coach, are joining the district.

The elementary school librarian will work five days a week instead of four.

And two new Advanced Placement science courses will be added, Superintendent Robert F. Penna said.


Elementary school students will be greeted by a new principal this fall.

Nancy Giambrone, who has been an educator for more than 20 years, began serving as principal of the borough's elementary schools on July 1.

Parents of elementary school students will now be able to access students' grades, records and attendance through an electronic report card. The system had been in place in the high school.


The district is piloting two full-day kindergarten programs at the Ketler and George schools. A lottery was held to fill the spots in the classes.

An autistic program for the primary grades is launching with five students. Previously, autistic students were sent out of district. Students from outside the district may attend for a fee.


The district will start a new forensics science class at the high school, and reintroduce physics as an elective.


Wyckoff has introduced a preschool for 4-year-olds.

Previously, the district's preschool programs were only open to special education students. The new program, which runs from Monday to Friday during the school year at Coolidge Elementary School, costs $2,500 for students who choose to attend.

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