Improving reading, technical skills, and facility improvements are high on the list as Ocean Township opens its schools next month.
“There’s lots of good stuff going on at Ocean right now,” Superintendent of Schools James Stefankiewicz said.
This year the school district is introducing a new kindergarten through fifth grade literacy program.
“We want to dramatically change how we deliver reading and writing instruction. Literacy is where it all begins and when kids learn to read and write well it carries over to other subject areas. We feel it’s important for students to read at grade level by time they reach the third grade,” he said.
He said that reading skills are pretty much individualized to the student but added that most targeted students in the district already read at grade level.
“But we want to do all we can to get all students to grade level, especially in these early grades. After the third grade the gap widens and it gets harder and harder,” he said.
The district is also supplying lap-top computers, or chrome books, to every student in kindergarten through the second grade. All other grades already have them.
“Last year was the first year we did it as an additional educational tool. Students have the world at their disposal at any moment of the day. It is a very powerful and essential tool for teachers and students. It is now a critical component of how kids learn,” he said.
Last year Ocean Township High School was one of eight schools in the state to receive a $500,000 Career Technical Educational program grant, to be paid over five years in $100,000 intervals. The money will fund formalized programs in finance and technology.
“The goal is to provide a more personalized learning experience for students interested in these areas. It also offers real-world experiences and students can graduate with some college credits that they earned while in this program,” Stefankiewicz said.
Voters also recently approved a referendum to finance district-wide facility improvements in schools. The current phase will see heating and ventilation improvements at all schools by September.
“The referendum is moving forward. We have completed science labs at the Intermediate School and are making improvements at all other schools,” he said.
Enrollment has recently steadied off in the school district after experiencing a decline over the past few years. Enrollment in the district is about 3,700.
“We are actually up in kindergarten a little bit but enrollment seems to have leveled off,” Stefankiewicz said.