March 5, 2014 at 6:00 AM
MADISON, NJ - The Board of Education learned of changes to the algebra and geometry curriculum during its meeting Tuesday night.
Katie Lemerich, supervisor of Math and Business, said the idea was to evaluate the program in relation to Common Core. A committee reviewed the current program, looked at changes needed and related those to state mandates. They also looked at comparable schools in the area and will distribute a community survey to parents, teachers and students.
Recommendations will involve new materials and textbooks. “The heart of it is that all students should complete Algebra I and Geometry by the end of the eleventh grade,” Lemerich said. Rather than stretching the program to four years, the approach would be condensed. “Why have two tracks?’ she said of the current regular and enriched programs. The pilot program would initially keep the enriched classes in place.
“This approach will be rigorous and we will need supports in place,” she said. Additional classes might be needed for some students, but not the entire population. The committee has considered a summer program of nine sessions as a bridge to the new approach. “We will target student skills and the approach will be very focused,” she said. She added there would be bench mark assessments to measure student progress. “This will be a challenge for teachers,” Lemerich said of the transition from the current program.
Board member James Novotny expressed concern about “the kids that struggle. How will we help them?” He was told that a representative from the middle school is on the committee and there has been considerable discussion about preparing students for the next step.
Addressing the matter of classes and students caught in transition, Director of Curriculum Matthew Mingle said, “We will review all the course curriculum and upgrade materials. Students will face harder tests but there will be math tutorials and teachers will be bringing these concepts to the classroom.”
In other matters, Superintendent of Schools Michael Rossi recommended that a snow makeup day be held for four hours on Saturday, March 29. “That would count as a school day and I’m asking that the union and the public consider this as a viable option.” No lunch would be included, but the mainder of the day could still be used for clubs and other extracurricular activities. He said the solution is preferable to cutting in on spring break. School is also being held the Friday before and the Tuesday following Memorial Day to help make up the five school closure days resulting from the severe winter weather.
Rossi said the Chrome book pilot is being ushered in mid-March for the remainder of the year. “We expect to roll it out in September and are really excited,” he said.
The board approved an inter-local agreement with the Borough of Madison. Board member Tom Haralampoudis said the shared services would allow the borough use of the gym, auditorium or another facility at no charge, if not being used by the school. In exchange the borough will take care of garbage and waste removal for the district. “It took a lot of work,” he said of efforts by Board President Lisa Ellis.
Ellis read a letter into the record she had written to The Alternative Press in response to an article on school funding that she said she found misleading.
“What we received from the state looks high in comparison to other schools," Ellis said, “but you need to look at the overall picture of student totals and the funding formula.” She added Morris County is underfunded compared to others in the state.