The big picture for the Caldwell-West Caldwell School District is not only planning for the upcoming 2013-14 school year, but the next four years.
“Where are we going as a high school? Where are we going as a district?” are the primary questions facing the Board of Education this year, said Superintendent James Heinegg on Wednesday.
While the board continues to work on the district’s four-year strategic plan and the district’s mission statements, which will be discussed during the board’s meeting in September, Heinegg pinpointed to three specific areas the district will focus on in the coming years: technology, fields and facilities and additional revenue.
The district needs a “comprehensive three-year plan for technology,” said Heinegg, to bring the district into the 21st century and meet state requirements.
“This is something that we really
have to do as a district,” said Heinegg.
Schools throughout New Jersey will replace NJ ASK, the standardized test given to students in grades 3-8, with the Partnership for the Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, or PARCC, beginning in 2014-15. The statewide test for language arts and mathematics will be administered on a computer, and the district is currently working on supplying enough computers in the schools.
Heinegg added he wants to make long-term decisions about staffing the district’s technology department. While the district hired Don Markese as the supervisor of technology last year, it has a history of staffing the department with mostly consultants, said the superintendent.
“As part of moving forward, we really need to make some decisions about exactly how we are going to staff the district technology department” in terms of "cost efficiency," said Heinegg.
Fields and Facilities
The fields and facilities in the district are well maintained, said the superintendent, but it is time for large renovations.
The district’s fields have not been renovated in nearly 30 years, Heinegg pointed out. He also did not preclude putting large projects on the ballot for voters to decided.
“The district has taken a very measured approach to maintaining the buildings, and doing gradual work whenever possible,” said Heinegg, “… but this will be a year of analyzing some of those issues, prioritizing them and then taking some positive steps toward taking care of them.”
Reliable Sources of Revenue
Depending too heavily upon taxes to fill a district’s coffers is precarious, admitted Heinegg, as the past five years has shown, so the district wants to find more reliable sources of revenue.
“Relying on a tax levy is … difficult to do,” said Heinegg. “We certainly owe it to our community to try to pursue other ways of meeting our educational goals.”
Heinegg was light on details about where those alternative and dependable funds will come from, but did mention interdistrict school choice, which allows districts to enroll students who do not reside within their districts without cost to their parents.
“We may decide [interdistrict school choice is] worth it, we may decide that it’s not worth it, but I think it’s important to explore to see if there may be any state funds … to take advantage of,” said Heinegg.