In The Schools- Colts Neck Board of Education

By Tony Senk

Looking Forward to an “Amazing” School Year

At the September 7 Colts Neck Board of Education meeting, superintendent of schools MaryJane Garibay updated board members and meeting  attendees on a number of enhancements and additions to the schools and student curriculums that she said will help make the 2016-2017 school year “amazing.”

Speaking about the new innovation labs at the three schools, she said, “The innovation labs, based upon what is known as the ‘philosophy of maker spaces,’ are designed to foster collaboration, creativity, tinkering, and of course, innovation. As the school district’s newest related arts course offering, students will have the opportunity to engage in inquiry-based learning activities.”

Ms. Garibay also spoke about the new “tower gardens” in the schools. “Thanks to the generosity of our PTO, all three schools will house two tower gardens that will be used as teaching and learning tools through the innovation labs. As aeroponic growing systems, our tower gardens will afford us the opportunity to expose our students to the process of growing fruits and vegetables within the walls of our schools.”

Ms. Garibay said she was also excited about how, this school year, fourth graders will be going 1:1. “As we continue to expand our students’ daily use of education technology as a means of developing their digital learning skills,” she said, “we are thrilled to be expanding our 1:1 Chromebook initiative to our incoming fourth graders. The school district embarked upon its first year of 1:1 devices during the 2015-2016 school year with students in grades five through eight. This year, we are very excited to welcome our fourth graders in the 1:1 mix.”

Pay-To-Participate Fees Finalized 

At the August 17 meeting, board members approved fees for the school district’s pay-to-participate program for afterschool student activities for the 2016-2017 school year. Fees for students in grades three through five is $100 per student and for students in grades six through eight, the fee is $150 per student.

New Additions to Curriculum in the School District

At the September 7 meeting, Ms. Garibay updated meeting attendees on some new curricula that will be introduced to the students this school year. They include a new guitar curriculum for seventh graders as a related arts course, a new financial literacy curriculum for seventh graders as another new related arts course, a new kindergarten-to-fourth grade handwriting curriculum with a new handwriting program, and a course offering of geometry to a small group of identified students in the eighth grade. In addition, each of the three new innovation labs in the school district will have their own curriculum.

Pardon Our Appearance!

At the September 7 meeting, Ms. Garibay spoke about the ongoing construction of main entrance security vestibules at the three district schools, each designed to improve the safety and security of the facilities. The new security vestibules were scheduled for completion at the end of September. She thanked the parents for their patience and understanding in following any new procedures and protocols that will be established for all visitors.

Let’s Eat!

At the August 17 meeting, board members approved the dining services price list for school cafeterias lunches for the 2016-2017 school year. At the Conover Road Primary School and Conover Road Elementary School, the price for the student lunch is $3.50; for the “Village Fresh” student lunch, it’s $4.50; and the reduced price lunch is 50 cents. At Cedar Drive Middle School, the student lunch price is $3.60; the “Village Fresh” student lunch is $4.25, and the reduced price lunch is 50 cents.

“We are extremely proud of our continuing wellness initiatives by providing new menu and snack items reflective of our belief that healthy bodies make healthy minds,” said Ms. Garibay. “The school district continues its professional relationship with Pomptonian Food Services to provide custom lunches and snacks reflective of our belief. Last June, members of the BOE passed a resolution to withdraw from the National School Lunch Program. This decision allowed us to have more flexibility in designing menus and gives students options, too. Our menus are available on the school district website.”

A Bequest to the Board

At the August 17 meeting, board members approved the acceptance, with gratitude, of a bequest to the Colts Neck BOE in the amount of $10,017.08, without restriction as to its use, from the estate of William H. Conover, in memory of the Conover Family.

Enrollment Update

At the September 7 meeting, Ms. Garibay provided an update on student enrollment numbers. The projected enrollment, pre-kindergarten to eighth grade, is 943 students, which is slightly down from 952 students last June, but better than the predicted 855 students. Last year, the district embarked upon its successful expansion of the full-day pre-school program. In total, the district welcomed 129 brand new students to Colts Neck.

Communication is the Key

At the September 7 meeting, Ms. Garibay spoke about the importance of communication in the school district, noting that the district will be sharing information via email, schoolwires, and the website. To update contact information, email communications and technology coordinator Terry Pilitzer at pilitzer@coltsneckschools.org.