Secaucus students are trotting out into the world from Wall Street to Main Street under an internship program started this year… Resident spars with trustees, administrators on absent Middle School principal… Budget process underway…
* * *
Midterm progress reports went out in Secaucus schools earlier this month, but school principals gave their own evaluations of progress in the district at Thursday night’s meeting of the board of education.
Principals at the four Secaucus schools, district adminstrators and consultants gave a quasi-State of the District address Thursday night, updating those in attendance about initiatives like the ongoing integration of technology into curriculum and administration, moves to segregate contact between the middle school and high school students, work on the 2010-11 budget and plans to update the district’s infrastructure this summer, to name a few.
Parents and board trustees seemed most impressed by a presentation by consultant Daphne Gregory, who is running a well-received internship program for second-semester high school seniors that has led to placements on Wall Street, in the New York fashion scene, publishing and medical facilities.
Gregory, who runs Daphne Gregory and Associates, applauded the district and students for its reception of the initiative, called the Career Exploration Internship Program, which she started in Millburn.
She noted second-semester seniors can often be less-than-motivated with college or employment on the horizon, but said 60 seniors responded when the program was touted at Secaucus High School.
A handful of students taking part in the first run of CEIP in Secaucus spoke glowingly at the Jan. 21 meeting about the process and Gregory’s help in preparing for professional interviews at institutions from Merrill Lynch to Marra’s Pharmacy. Other placements for Secaucus students include positions in New York during Fashion Week, at entertainment magazine Time Out New York, and local business like the Secaucus Animal Shelter for an aspiring veterinarian and the Secaucus Police Department and Court for students eying careers in law enforcement and law.
Budget: Walkiewicz said the 2010-11 budget process is underway, noting it actually began in October ’09 when department heads were given a target of “plus 2 percent” for the next budget. District officials will soon go to the Hudson County executive superintendent, who has significant say in the budget process.
Walkiewicz said threats by new Governor Chris Christie to reduce or hold back school aid this year would be “unheard of but no impossible.”
Trustee Michael Makarski said the board is closely monitoring developments with the new administration in Trenton.
Middle School Update: Rob Daniello, director of humanities for the district who is also serving as acting principal of Secaucus Middle School in the absence of Patrick Impreveduto, said at the meeting that efforts to reduce interaction (and unwanted byproducts like bullying) between high school and middle school students continue.
Doors linking the two entities have been closed with input from the fire department, he said, and school buses have been instructed to drop off students of the two schools at different locations.
More than a hundred new lockers were also purchased so that a wing where students of both schools crossed paths to get to their lockers could be mitigated.
Daniello said a possible third phase of the program could see school start times being staggered next year so that students aren’t entering at the same time.
The continued absence of Impreveduto on medical leave surfaced during the public comment period of the meeting when resident Tom Roarty suggested comments in a local newspaper about Impreveduto’s status by Superintendent Cynthia Randina and administrator Edward Walkiewicz were inapporpriate and potential violations of a law governing release of medical information. Roarty, who speculated that a blind quote could have come from a board trustee or administrator, accused district officials of “character assasination” of Impreveduto and said they were “slandering him in the press.”
Neither Randina, Walkiewicz nor board attorney Stephen Fogarty addressed the issue publicly at the meeting.
Board president Jack McStowe took exception to Roarty’s suggestion that the blind quote could have come from a trustee and said: “Not one board member has ever slandered Mr. Impreveduto.”
Tech Update: Al Vega, who oversees technology for Secaucus schools, said Secaucus is well ahead of other Hudson County districts in the digital age. He said a recent gathering had officials from other towns asking questions about how Secaucus has handled its upgrades.