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School Officials Discuss Concerns, Plans During Speak Up Summit Meeting

Kimberly A. Bolognini

Sunday, April 14, 2013 • 7:50am

SUMMIT, NJ - During Saturday’s Speak Up Summit meeting, several education-related topics were discussed with community members in an open forum format.

Superintendent Dr. Nathan Parker and Assistant Superintendent Julie Glazer discussed the quality of Summit’s education and how they plan on raising the bar for students.

“Our goal is to present programming like this to keep community members engaged, to make sure Summit education is at the forefront of the state, country and world,” Parker said. “We are not at the forefront yet, but we are looking to make necessary changes.”

Parker discussed the space issues within Franklin and Jefferson Elementary schools and explained why additional space is at this point, necessary.

“We currently have art on a cart, music class in the cafeteria, and numerous staff members sharing the same office spaces. We are lacking necessary classroom space,” Parker said.

He explained that according to three demographic companies, the projected number of students during the next academic years is expected to rise.

He added that amongst his personal priorities for the Five Year Capital Plan, his priorities are ranked in order of security, offering full day kindergarten, science lab upkeep, auditorium upgrades in the middle school and boiler replacement in the high school.

In regards to the science program updates, Glazer emphasized its importance.

“Science has been a priority over the past few years. We’ve really been able to develop a great science program, but for it to continue, we need labs at the middle school,” Glazer said.

She added that there is a “felt need and excitement within the students” regarding science and the new curriculum.

With the curriculum changes mentioned, Glazer and Parker explained the importance of having top notch staff members and along with curriculum changes come staff changes as well. They urged attendees to voice any concerns regarding any staff members in a private setting after the meeting or by contacting them.

Another concerning topic to both parents and faculty members is the lack of Summit High School students who were admitted into Ivy League colleges. As of now, “only” two were accepted, one being an athlete and one accepted due to academics.

“My concern is why students are not getting into schools they should be getting into,” Parker said.

He explained that a College Specialist position has been created to help provide students, colleagues and faculty better support the college preparation process by developing a comprehensive program.

Glazer and Parker said that they are not pleased that many students have either been waitlisted or not accepted to Ivy League schools and they think the new job position as well as other changes should help more students be accepted.

Standardized test score performance was also a topic of discussion in which Glazer explained.

She said that standardized test scores should essentially be a good implication of how the student is performing within the classroom and results of both the tests and the student’s grades should somewhat go hand in hand.

“Our ultimate goal is to have every student improve a level on standardized tests. We want to help all students succeed,” Glazer said.

She urged parents to complete the online Community Survey which is open until Monday and for further in-depth feedback regarding any comments or concerns.

She also added that there is a regular Board of Education meeting on Thursday night that will be a forum discussion. She encouraged parents to attend for further detailed explanation about topics discussed during Speak Up Summit.

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