District invites public to more ‘town hall’ meetings

CHATHAM–Schools Superintendent Cheryl Nuciforo laid out a timeline for the district’s facilities study last week. She also announced that the district’s Annual Professional Performance Review plan has been approved by the state.

At the October 16 meeting of the Board of Education, Ms. Nuciforo said the timeline regarding the facilities study, which includes consideration of whether to close the middle school, runs from November into June. There will be four town-hall-style meetings during this period, but the agenda of those meetings will differ from the previous two sessions. She said that the upcoming public meetings will be focused on specific topics that will be discussed in depth. The previous two meetings covered a variety of topics, and parents raised a number of questions. Ms. Nuciforo said that many of the questions from those meetings have been answered in posted online in Q&A form. This page can be found at http://chathamcentralschools.com/Facilities_Study/Q_A.asp.

The next town hall meeting will be in December and will focus on the financial state of the district.

“I don’t think people have a real understanding of the financial situation that’s leading us to have this discussion,” said Ms. Nuciforo. She hopes the next public discussion will help people “really have a deeper understanding of what the choices are we might be facing a few years down the line.”

In February there will be a town hall meeting discussing the 7-12 program. If the middle school building on Woodbridge Avenue is closed, the 6th grade would move to the elementary school, while 7th and 8th grades would be moved to the high school. This has brought up questions from parents concerned about having students of different ages together in the same school.

In March, there will be a meeting with the public to discuss capital projects. A decision to close the school would require the district to add on a few more classrooms at the high school.

A final town hall meeting will occur in May. This meeting will serve as an overview, summarizing the issues.

Ms. Nuciforo also indicated there will be multiple meetings by the Facilities Study Committee. A decision by the board on how to proceed is expected in June.

Also at last week’s board meeting, Ms. Nuciforo announced that the state Education Department has approved Chatham’s Annual Professional Performance Review (APPR) plan. The APPR stems from is from a new state requirement for schools to strengthen the way teachers and principals are evaluated. According to the department’s website, “The goal of the evaluation system is to ensure that there is an effective teacher in every classroom and an effective leader in every school. To accomplish this, the evaluation system will foster a culture of continuous professional growth in which educators can consistently improve their instructional and management practices.” The new evaluation plan scores teachers on a scale of 100.

The next board meeting will be a workshop November 13 at 6:30 p.m. in the high school library. The board’s next business meeting is scheduled for November 27.


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