Franklin School Plan Calls for Two Modular Classrooms, Two More Computer Carts; Benefits of Full-Day Kindergarten Outlined
Friday, June 22, 2012 • 7:42am
SUMMIT, NJ—The board of education on Thursday give its blessing to a plan dealing with overcrowding at Franklin Elementary School through the use of two modular classrooms to be brought onto the school property, and through the addition of two more computer carts accommodating a total of 48 computers.
Superintendent of Schools Nathan Parker noted the plan will allow for dedicated space for the school’s music and art programs and will create room for a fourth first grade class.
In response to a parent question, Parker said computer equipment removed from the current Franklin School computer laboratory probably would be distributed as needed to other buildings in the district.
School Business Administrator Louis Pepe explained the district had looked at proposals for two modular classrooms—from Vanguard Modular Building Systems and Modular Space.
The Vanguard system would include two classrooms of 778 square feet each with two bathrooms, whereas the Modular Space system, as proposed, would have two classrooms of 924 square feet each with no bathrooms.
Estimated costs would be about $42,200 for the Vanguard system and $17,725 for the Modular Space system, according to Pepe, but the Vanguard setup also would include installation of required ramps. He said, at this point, he favored the Vanguard system because of inclusion of bathrooms, which would be helpful particularly if art classes were located in a modular classroom.
The business administrator added, however, that it is possible other vendors would come in later and that Modular Space might be persuaded to add bathrooms to its proposal.
He said installation of the modular classrooms, which would be located on a macadam strip on the side of the school near Warwick Road, could be completed by sometime this fall, although not by the start of school in September.
Kenneth Shulack, the district’s human resources director, who served on the committee that drew up the recommendations, said the use of the additional computer carts would help accommodate students until the modular systems are installed.
Pepe estimated the total cost for the laptop systems at about $82,000, including the cost of the computers, wireless access points, Power Over Ethernet access points and the laptop carts.
On another matter at Thursday’s meeting, the school body heard a presentation by consultant Kathleen D. Priestley on the advantages of instituting a full-day kindergarten in Summit that would be accessible to all students.
Celia Colbert, chair of the board’s education committee, noted before a definite decision is made on such a program the school body would have to determine that it is right for the children, fits in with district priorities and is financially feasible.
In light of the discussion on district space allocation needs, Parker said, the full-day kindergarten proposal would have to be considered along with other space allocation priorities such as the middle school science laboratories and auditorium and the Franklin overcrowding issue.
He noted the district in the last few years had been able to make approximately $23 million in capital improvements because it had received state RODs grants that returned 40 cents on every dollar spent at a time when such grants were available.
“We have to prioritize,” he added. “We don’t want to do something in one area without considering its effect on other areas.”
In introducing Priestly, Parker noted she has worked on early childhood education development for the state in the former Abbott school districts, including programs in Elizabeth and for five years in Orange, which is considered to have one of the top early childhood programs in New Jersey.
She also is a member of the nationally known Association for Early Childhood Development.
Priestly said full-day kindergarten is a continuation of early home and preschool experiences, helps make children ready to advance to college in the 21st century, builds curriculum year to year and provides equal access opportunities for learning for six hours per day rather than two to three hours.
She added there is more focus on social competence and learning through play and choice activities, daily outdoor play-physical development and problem-solving skills, less transition, less anxiety and less stress for children and more opportunities for family involvement and more information provided to each family about their child.
In closing the achievement gap, the consultant said studies show at-risk children in full-day kindergarten made more significant gains in language proficiency than comparable children in half-day kindergarten.
She added minority children in full-day settings gained literacy skills faster than peers in halfday settings and children from low-income families in full-day kindergarten performed better and saved significant dollars through reduced grade retention through the third grade.
Children of different socio-economic backgrounds also received many of the benefits cited above when exposed to full-day kindergarten, she said.
Colbert noted the education committee next needed to decide what Summit is looking for as it considers whether to institute a full-day program and to study the various alternatives.
Other facets of a full-day kindergarten proposal also would be studied by the board’s communications, operations and policy committees, she said, before a proposal is made to the city’s board of school estimate.
In a number of personnel actions at Thursday’s end-of-school-year meeting, the school board:
- Approved merit increases of 1.5 percent for the 2010-2011 school year and 2.5 percent for the 2011-2012 school year to bring Parker’s salary to $231,462 for 2010-2011 and $240,721 for 2011-2012. According to the board’s resolutions the merit increases do not require the approval of the executive Union County superintendent of schools.
- Approved a contract with Pepe bringing his salary to $176,585 for the 2012-2013 school year; a contract with Shulack resulting in a salary of $178,798 for 2012-2013; a contract with Assistant Superintendent Julie Glazer bringing her salary up to $158,304 for 2012-2013, and a contract with Jane Kachmar-Desonne, director of special services, resulting in a salary of $169,254 by 2012-2013.
- Approved a three-year contract with the Summit Principals Association resulting in average salary increases of 1.75 percent per year.
- Authorized a contract for 2011-2012 and 2012-2013 with the custodial and maintenance staff resulting in average salary increases of 2 percent per year.