Bernards Schools Ready to Open With New Lineup
Top administrators have changed, but much, including enrollment, will be pretty similar when schools open next week.
The Bernards Township School district is preparing to welcome back 5,638 students — at the latest count — next Thursday, the first day of school for students.
Although Ridge High School's projected enrollment for the start of this school year is 1,807 students — an uptick from last year's 1,788 Ridge students on the first day of the 2011-12 school year, enrollment is down very slightly overall. Last September's school year started with 5,661 students; this year, other than at the Liberty Corner Elementary School, enrollment is a little down at the district's other three elementary schools.
The William Annin Middle School as of today had 1,398 students, compared with 1,402 last year. Enrollment changes at the elementary schools were minimal, with the biggest drop at Oak Street School, from 633 down to 601, and the only increase at Liberty Corner, up to 579 students, from last year's 563.
The positions have changed but the names will remain the same
By far, the biggest change in Bernards Township schools this year will be the change in those heading the positions of top administrators — and even the president of the Board of Education.
Nick Markarian, who had gained experience and was visible at school board meetings as board business administrator, is now schools superintendent. Markarian has been groomed to move to the top administrator's spot since he was named last year, following Valerie Goger's announcement last fall that she would retired at the end of June 2012.
Sean Siet, who had experience filling the position director of curriculum and instruction, is now assistant superintendent, although he will maintain some of his previous administrative curriculum responsibilities.
One new face at the Board of Education office will be Rod McLaughlin, hired last spring as the new board administrator and secretary.
Meanwhile, schools maintenance and improvements projects undertaken in the summer at nearly all of the district's school buildings should be "95 percent or so" complete by the time school opens for students, Markarian said on Friday.
Cedar Hill dropoff due to continue for Ridge buses
One thing that will remain the same — despite attempts to come up with an alternative solution — is that school will begin again with an arrangement Ridge High School buses continuing to drop students off behind Cedar Hill school, which has a walkway to the rear of the high school.
Markarian said earlier this week that school officials continue to search for a long-term solution to returning the buses to the front of the high school, which experiences traffic jams on a daily basis. Ridge buses have been dropped students behind Cedar Hill since last February, and local residents have protested that added bus and car traffic has created a hazard on local streets.
Also, the township's construction project on Collyer Lane will continue into the beginning of the school year. In an online notice, School officials asked that students, who will not be able to park along Collyer Lane as in past years, arrive as early as possible to avoid anticipated traffic issues.
The school website, as well as school officials, are directing parents and private vehicles to drop high school students at the front of the high school, rather than crowding streets and turnarounds in the Homestead Village neighborhood.
New statewide teacher implementation to go into effect
Looking at the larger picture, Markarian said he sees the state's required implementation this year of a new system for evaluating teachers as "a big change and challenge but also an improvement."