Perspective: Hammonton Schools – Hammonton Gazette

perspective:-hammonton-schools-–-hammonton-gazette

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Students and families are looking forward to proms, field days, graduations and celebrations more than ever before. (Courtesy Photo)

After two long years of cancellations and restrictions, we are finally able to enjoy traditional rites of passage. Our students and families are looking forward to proms, field days, graduations and celebrations more than ever before.

As preparations for the 2022-2023 school year begin, we reflect on the previous year, evaluate existing programs and research enhancements for the upcoming year for a continuous cycle of school improvement. In order to achieve growth, there must be a cohesive plan and continuity of programs to provide opportunities for our students to excel.

The school budget is comprised of various sources such as local taxes, state aid and federal funds. Based on regulations associated with each funding source, the school budget is developed.

Due to the severe underfunding the Hammonton District endured for many years, the State of New Jersey is attempting to remedy this by providing an additional $3.7 million for the upcoming school year. As a result, there will be a slight decrease in local taxes.

As we begin the next school year, many changes will be evident. Although funded in previous budget years, the turf field and 15 new school buses were delayed due to COVID-19 and supply chain issues. The turf field should be ready for our first game in the fall, and our new buses with HEPA filtration systems will be on the road in September. Projected smaller projects include remodeling the Hammonton Early Childhood Education Center office area for additional space for related services, renovating the WES [Sooy Elementary] library for STEM classes and repairing the Hammonton Middle School (HMS) stage, as well as general painting and maintenance of buildings.

The key to developing cohesive educational programs is to make data-informed decisions. Based on the results of the LinkIt Benchmarks that were administered three times during the school year, a need for additional instruction in reading and comprehending informational text was identified. As a result, supplemental programs will be purchased across grade levels to provide additional resources to reinforce essential lifelong literacy skills.

In addition, programs in science for grades K-5 as well as STEM materials in grades 2-8 will be purchased. For our older students, there will be additional opportunities for exploration of careers and future studies. At the high school, students will be able to select semester courses in forensics, marine biology, creative writing and public speaking along with new courses in introduction to guitar, musical theater, and digital arts and design.

AP Statistics will also be offered as a new course. At HMS, all eighth graders will be selecting a full-year cycle class as they prepare to transition to the high school. Student choice allows for increased engagement as students pursue studies related to their personal interests.

The increase in State Aid for the 2022-2023 school year will allow for the reinstitution of teaching positions in areas that were reduced due to funding shortages in the past. In addition, improvements to school security and cyber security will be implemented.

As our programs have evolved over the years to include online platforms and resources, technology has become essential to education to allow students to become global learners. As a result, annually we will need to replenish our supply of Chromebooks to replace obsolete models.

With the upcoming changes to student learning standards, the need to share information with the community is paramount. In order to provide transparency and increased collaboration, the district is purchasing an online program to house all curricula. This will allow for greater oversight by content supervisors along with the ability for parents to view all district curricula in a searchable format.

The 2021-2022 school year provided our students with a sense of normalcy and addressed learning loss caused by the pandemic.

As we approach the 2022-2023 school year, we look forward to building on the successes of the previous year and providing additional opportunities for our students to excel. I am confident that our staff as well as our board of education are ready to meet these challenges.

Robin Chieco

Superintendent

Hammonton Public Schools

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