Every spring the School District follows standard procedures for developing next school year’s budget, holding parent conferences, and preparing for the end of the school year.
The budget process is going to fare well this year. We are proposing to the school community a budget that does not request an increase in the tax levy for the general operating budget. The reason for this good news is because the School District is seeing an increase in state aid, in large part due to our School Choice Program.
The choice aid not only replaces revenue that we are losing from the declining student enrollment from our sending districts, but fills open seats that allow us to keep operating our programs and maintain the quality of our schools. Also, the Choice program has allowed us to lower the sending districts’ High School tuition rate by approximately $685 per student and reduces the average cost per pupil for Ocean City students as well. This alone has led to a savings of $444,565 for Upper Township, $23,975 for Sea Isle City and $15,755 for Corbin City.
We received additional aid of $198,850 from what we estimated for school choice due to the per pupil funding increasing from $12,330 per student in the 12/13 school year to $13,825 per pupil in the 13/14 school year. The Special Education Aid also increased by $30,154 over last year and Security Aid increased by $11,104. This additional aid has allowed us to budget $50,000 for security upgrades, $74,000 for technology and $55,857 to be deposited in Capital Reserve. The School District has also budgeted for $1,000,000 in one-time costs in the 2013/2014 budget. These one-time costs include $250,000 in technology upgrades including Smart boards, iPads, document cameras and infrastructure upgrades and $750,000 to make the necessary repairs to the High School Auditorium.
While we appreciate the increase in state aid, we are most appreciative and thankful to the following Community donors for their generosity:
The Ocean City Education Foundation (OCEF) for teacher grants to enrich the classrooms and programs.
The Ocean City Free Public Library (OCFPL) for a science program grant with the Wetlands Institute.
The Upper Township & Ocean City Municipal Alliance Committee donated for the schools’ celebration of Red Ribbon Week.
The Ocean City PTA to the Primary and Intermediate Schools for enhancements to the classrooms.
South Jersey Energy’s “Energy for the Arts” Grant for the Intermediate School’s Instrumental Music.
In addition to formulating the budget, we are also in the midst of renewing our Strategic Plan with the New Jersey School Boards Association as the facilitator for this endeavor. The purpose of a Strategic Plan is to bring together a focused group of about 50 community, school leaders and parents who are working together to identify both the strengths and accomplishments of our School District, the expectations for the future, and the objectives designed to meet our Strategic Plan goals listed below:
Improve academic performance for all students.
Improve communication between all segments of the community, including the Sending Districts.
Improve financial effectiveness.
The results of our efforts will help set the future agenda for our School District. Please stay tune for the roll out of this new Strategic Plan in early April.
With regards to communication, you may recall that we asked parents to complete a survey about parental involvement in our schools. The results of these surveys are tabulated in the attached district summary.
The parents also provided comments regarding our schools and areas of pride as well as areas that need our attention. The comments fall into four general categories. These categories are: Preparedness for School, School Activities, Communication, School Climate. Some of the positive comments under these areas are: “Teachers make every student feel like his/her favorite; I think this is a wonderful school and am so glad my son has been able to go through this school system; The district does an excellent job preparing students…thank you; Keep up the services offered; The staff has been very responsive and friendly.” Areas that need our attention are: “More information on testing programs and what they mean before the students take them; More invitations for parents to come into Ocean City Intermediate School and Ocean City High School; Need weekly email blast with all of the next week’s events; More transitional programs/internships for students after grade 12; There is a great deal of parental resources, but finding the information is sometimes a challenge.”
Please know that our Administrators and Strategic Plan Committee do have these results and comments and, as part of our work, we are developing action plans to address these areas. I appreciate that the parents gave us their feedback on how to involve parents with our schools and how we can do better.
With regards to parent involvement, one high level way of parents being involved with their children’s education is participating in the parent conferences. When preparing to meet your child’s teacher for these upcoming conferences, there are a set of questions that can be asked that will help you learn more about your child’s academic progress. These questions are:
How has my child progress towards achieving his/her learning goals? How does that compare with the rest of his/her class?
What are my child’s strongest areas and areas of concerns in the different subject areas?
What is my child’s current reading level?
How is my child interacting with other students and with staff?
What strategies are recommended to make homework more effective?
What can I do at home to support my child’s academic progress?
This conference is about your child, so please bring up with the teacher any other questions or concerns you may have about your child’s progress in school. Please know that the principals can also answer questions or address issues that you may have regarding your child, his/her educational program or the school.
Spring is almost here-yeah!
Kathleen W. Taylor, Ed.D. Superintendent attachment