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Scotch Plains/Fanwood — Education Top Stories

Board of Ed. Announces H.S. Science Lab Renovations, Staffing Increase, and More Government Funding in 2014-15 Budget Plan

By Sean Conklin

Sunday, March 2, 2014 • 7:45am

SCOTCH PLAINS, NJ - At the public board meeting on Thursday, Feb. 27, the Scotch Plains-Fanwood Board of Education revealed an outline of its budget plan for 2014-15.  New items in the budget include a major overhaul on the science lab at the Scotch Plains-Fanwood High School and the addition of six new staffing positions in the regional public school district.  Additionally, the board proposed a number of new curriculum initiatives for the district and a boiler unit update at Brunner Elementary School.

Added to the budget for 2014-15 are two new categories; The Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) and the Per Pupil Growth Aid. These school-aid funds were introduced in a statewide budget plan by Governor Chris Christie and were reported in The Alternative Press in a prior story.

PARCC is the collaboration of 18 states and the District of Columbia to develop a universal set of K-12 math and English assessments that examine core standards and determine a student’s college and career readiness.  The budget calls for $53,090 to be allocated to the school district for this new program.  Meanwhile, the Per Pupil Growth Aid, which also has a budget of $53,090, was designed to add general funding to the budget at the district’s discretion.

Beyond the addition of the two new categories, the remaining aspects of the budget are expected to remain relatively the same.

The education budget includes plans to modernize most of the 11 outdated science labs at  Scotch Plains-Fanwood High School.

“The estimated cost to renovate each one of these labs in-house with new furniture and equipment will run approximately $150,000,” according to Mrs. Deborah Saridaki, School Business Administrator/Secretary of Scotch Plains-Fanwood.  The estimates include any electrical/plumbing work that may be required. 

Saridaki added that the estimated costs to renovate these labs may increase slightly if it is determined that all of the work cannot be completed internally.  The plan has a tentative budget of $1,071,900 and seven of the 11 labs would be experience renovations under the anticipated costs (based on internal estimates).

The boiler unit at Brunner Elementary School is currently being examined, but it is thought that the unit may need to be replaced, a cost which would run an estimated $120,000 in the budget.

New staffing positions will include two middle school teachers, a high school guidance counselor, a high school science teacher, a supervisor of technology and data and an instructional coach, which has proven to be a successful model for students. The addition of the staffing positions at the high school is in response to the increase of 18 students in enrollment this year and 93 students over the last five years.

New initiatives supported in the budget for 2014-15 include:

  • Summer work for Aligning Assessments to the Common Core
  • Text book updates for the following:
    • 7th Grade U.S. Government
    • Spanish II
    • AP Physics

On March 4 at 7:30 PM, Dr. Margaret Hayes and Dr. Joan Mast will be guest speakers in the Scotch Plains Educational Forum at the Scotch Plains-Fanwood High School media center. They will discuss the common core curriculum on standardized tests and assessments.

There is a special meeting scheduled for March 18 to adopt the tentative budget.  The meeting will be open to the public.

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