Dear Cranford Parents/Guardians:
Welcome to the 2019-2020 school year! It will be filled with exciting activities, events, and initiatives that will enrich educational opportunities for all students.
PreK-12 highlights for this upcoming school year will include the following:
- The District is in year 2 of its implementation of the 2018-2023 Strategic Plan. We will continue to engage the community in reflection and dialogue as we all participate in the shared responsibility of “Growing Tomorrow’s Leaders Together.” The full plan and updates can be accessed on the District website located in the links at the bottom under Strategic Planning.
- Let’s also take a moment to celebrate some of the accomplishments that have taken place over the last year.
School Scheduling Information
Please see the new School Scheduling Information. Please be sure to note the new ½ day kindergarten start and end times. They have been modified slightly to be in alignment with the regular school start/end times. Please also note that the am /pm kindergarten classes alternate on single session days.
Safety and Security
- An additional Juvenile Detective, who has been cross-trained as a School Resource Officer (SRO), will be joining the District --this brings our District total to four.
- School safety audits were conducted in partnership with local law enforcement this summer. The audits resulted in several enhancements and upgrades at each school, including the addition of external cameras and improved lighting throughout the District.
- Two additional counselors have been hired, one at Orange Avenue School and one at Hillside Avenue School.
- Cranford High School (CHS) is the recipient of a competitive 3-year grant, the Climate Transformation Project, provided in partnership from Rutgers University and the State Department of Education. CHS joins both Orange Avenue School and Hillside Avenue School, who won the grant in 2018-2019 and are now in year 2 of implementing this powerful initiative. More information about the grant can be found here: About the Climate Transformation Project.
- CHS is the recipient of a grant from the State Bar Foundation and the Cranford Fund for Educational Excellence (CFEE) which will allow the District to implement a Peer Mediation program at the High School this year. The District will also be providing additional conflict resolution lessons in grades, 4, 6, and 9.
- The District is implementing its first year of a Youth Mental Health First Aid Program. Over the next few years, all faculty will participate in an 8-hour course that teaches staff how to help students who may be experiencing challenges in the areas of mental health and substance use. The training helps individuals identify, understand and respond to signs of addictions and mental illnesses.
- The District will be working towards implementing Full Value, a behavioral commitment that inspires and encourages individuals to expect the best from themselves and their interactions with others. A small group of teachers and students will go through the training later in the year with a larger rollout being planned for next year.
- Project Adventure will be infused into the fitness curriculum, grades 6-12. The initiative provides students an opportunity to work cooperatively, challenge themselves in a supportive environment, improve self-esteem and learn creative approaches to problem-solving. The fitness teachers have already been trained in this instructional strategy and it will be rolled out in grades K-5 in 2020-2021
- Students Taking Action Together (STAT) is a program sponsored by Rutgers University, Social-Emotional and Character Development Lab which promotes programs that support students social-emotional wellness. During the 2018-2019 school year, the social studies department and business teachers received training on the program which has since been integrated into grades K-12 Social Studies curriculum and business classes.
- As part of the District’s goal to increase meaningful stakeholder engagement to enhance practices, structures and, ultimately, student learning, the District will send out a survey in the fall to gauge current sentiments around engagement. Responses will help inform the creation of a District Engagement Plan.
- The District will seek to enhance communication through the District website and social media outlets by establishing a student-led communications design team who will be responsible for redesigning and updating all district websites, harnessing social media applications as well as developing additional apps to further communication and engagement efforts.
- The District will hold Coffee and Conversation with the superintendent meetings on Wednesday, November 20 and Thursday, March 12. These informal meetings will provide a forum to discuss topics that are important to the school community.
- The superintendent will appear regularly on TV35 to engage the community and provide updates on District happenings.
Curriculum / Instruction
- The District will continue its intense focus on early literacy intervention; the District is in year 2 of the NJTSS Grant which provides enhanced assistance for students through a tiered system of supports.
- The utilization of a universal screening and monitoring tool (iReady) will be expanded to include students in grades 6-8.
- New curricula have been created for Achieve (ELA and Math support) and Word Work (Early Literacy).
- New curricula have been revised for Health / PE to create a greater focus on social-emotional learning. The K-2 Social Studies curriculum has also been revised.
- Online access to all District Curricula is now available on our website.
- The District will implement Year 1 of its new District Data Plan.
- The District will implement Year 1 of its new Personalized Learning Plan.
- We have partnered with the NJ Coalition for Inclusive Education to further foster an environment where children with disabilities and learning differences are welcomed as classmates, valued as learners and empowered to succeed.
- The District will be enhancing ELA / mathematics enrichment opportunities through a more targeted approach in grades 3 - 6.
- The District is forming a communitywide stakeholder committee to meet in the fall to help plan the next steps in the process. As you know, we started the conversation with the community approximately 10 months ago and it has been a collaborative process, shaped largely by the community, as it should be. We have held several meetings, provided many presentations, and engaged in dialogue about what we as a community may want to do to enhance the school district. This initial conversation culminated in a survey. I am glad this is the pathway we took. There are over 50 Districts that went out for a referendum within the past year and my understanding is that only one district administered a survey to get public opinion in advance of a referendum. We are representatives and it is so important that we collaborate and partner with the community and we greatly appreciate all who have engaged in this conversation. 1,848 participants completed the survey. Click here to see the full results.
In general, the results indicate the following:
- 71% of the community that responded supported the proposed enhancements and citizens would like to vote on these proposed enhancements separately from any potential plan. These potential enhancements include: update science labs (CHS), modernize library / multi-media centers to support 21st Century STEM programs, upgrade technology, enhance performing arts spaces, enhance accessibility options, install AC in gyms, cafeterias, and performing arts spaces, upgrade electrical service (all schools except for WAS which has already been upgraded), replace interior doors including hardware, paving, masonry and concrete repairs, and window replacements.
- Plans 8 & 10 received the most support. Both plans provide great benefits to the school system and neither includes additional busing:
- Plan 8 (Full Day Kindergarten, adds appropriate educational support spaces, four K-5 schools, and two dedicated 6-8 middle schools --one on each side of town)
- Plan 10 (Keeps schools as they are currently zoned, adds Full Day Kindergarten, and adds appropriate educational support spaces)
Technology and Infrastructure
- 700 new and upgraded computers were deployed across the District (1800 devices have been added over the past 4 years).
- Continued infrastructure upgrades, including wireless network upgrades at Lincoln Avenue School, Walnut Avenue School, and Bloomingdale Avenue School were completed.
- The District will be using IEP Direct, a system that will improve teacher access to special education student information and promote greater collaboration to meet specific individual educational needs.
- The District will undergo a comprehensive technology audit resulting in a strategic plan specifically designed for technology.
The District partnered with Strauss Esmay to assist in policy updates. They work with New Jersey school districts developing customized policy and regulation manuals that are consistent with State and Federal laws and are in compliance with State and Federal monitoring standards. Their clients include more than 500 NJ school districts. The Board is continuing its work with this company to ensure that all policies are updated in alignment with best practices across the State, while focusing on the needs of Cranford.
Our first priority is the safety of our school community. Please be sure to read the attached letters regarding the visitor entry protocols and the Board policy regarding permitted items at highly attended public events. I appreciate your partnership in supporting our security procedures so as to provide an even safer community. Additionally, please be sure to update and verify your emergency information in InfoSnap prior to the first day of school. It is imperative that we have the most current information so that we can best provide for your child.
The PTA (Parent Teacher Association) is a wonderful organization and a crucial part of our school community. They plan special events, provide cultural arts experiences, offer an organized venue for parents to have direct feedback into the academic and social programs we offer and provide endless support. We, as a school community, would be at a great disadvantage without this organization and the resources it provides. Please be sure to join this terrific organization. We all benefit from your support and involvement!
Attached please find a packet with the following information: Visitor entry protocol letter; Permitted Items at Board-Sponsored Public Events Policy #1412 and accompanying letter; 2019-2020 school district calendar, school district closing and delayed opening schedules; HIB specialist information and a copy of the district HIB Policy #5131; Internet Safety and Technology Policy #6142.10; emergency/crisis protocol letter.
Soon, you will also receive information from your child’s principal which will be specific to your particular school. Should you find there is any additional information that you need, please check the school district website www.cranfordschools.org or contact your child’s principal directly.
We look forward to working with you and your children and thank you for your continued support of Cranford Public Schools.
As always, please contact my office if you have any comments, questions and /or concerns. I look forward to an academically rigorous, productive, and rewarding school year!
Dr. Scott Rubin
Superintendent of Schools