Little Egg Harbor School District Returns to Separate K-3 and 4-6 Grade Schools

Aug 22, 2018

With school opening Sept. 6 with a half-day, Superintendent Melissa McCooley was upbeat about the return to a K-3 district school at the George J. Mitchell School and returning Frog Pond to a grades 4-6 school. The 2011 reconfiguration of both schools into K-6 in 2011 has been scrapped for the upcoming school year.

The change back to K-3 and 4-6 means some of the classrooms that were retrofitted for the younger grades in Frog Pond (younger grades require restrooms within the classrooms) have been changed back. During the Aug.13 school board meeting, McCooley said the transition to the original plan has been implemented without much fuss.

“It was well planned out; the teachers have been wonderful. They boxed up their rooms methodically, and we hired a moving company for the final clearing. Overall the feedback from parents has been fabulous – we’ve had no negative emails.”

McCooley will start the school year as superintendent for both Little Egg and Pinelands Regional school districts, a fact that underscored her shared-services presentation. “That’s going well with the continuity of education,” she said. “(New Jersey State Senate President Steve) Sweeney’s intent is to consolidate districts into K-12, and we are in the forefront of that movement.”

The elementary school district is working on a pilot plan to share a technology team with Pinelands Regional ,and both Pinelands and other community groups are sharing the Frog Pond school gym.

The district is also sharing English as a Second Language and World Language teachers with Eagleswood Elementary and is cooperating and sharing in local professional development programs. Finally, the school district shares services with the township, such as resource police officers and some public works jobs, including snow plowing and salting at the schools.

Director of Special Services Erin Lictenwalner gave an overview of the Comprehensive Equity Plan, which is the way the school keeps in line with state rules on inclusion, from equal rights to access to physical education. “We have had no complaints this (past) year and that’s a positive thing. It says a lot about the school culture, both staff and students.”

Director of Curriculum and Instruction John Acampora said the district had met all of last year’s goals in the areas of small group instruction, character education, science standards and assessments. The goals for the upcoming year: instilling social and emotional competency, developing and utilizing standard-based assessments, developing multi-tiered support services and implementing school-based WIGs (Wildly Important Goals) related to character education, emotional standards and/or growth mindset.

The superintendent gave the following schedule of meetings to prepare children for the 2018-19 school year: Students ready for preschool at the Early Childhood Center should meet in the multi-purpose room of the George J. Mitchell School on Wednesday, Aug. 29: session 1 at 11 a.m. and session 2 at noon. Kindergarten preschool meeting for parents or custodians is on Wednesday, Aug. 22, at 6 p.m. at the George J. Mitchell School; a meeting with parents and kindergarten students together is Aug. 28 at 10 a.m.

Orientation for new students entering grades one through three is Thursday, Aug. 30, between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. at the GJM School.

Orientation for new students to the Frog Pond School grades four through six is Aug. 23 at 11 a.m. and again at 4:30 p.m. at the Frog Pond School.

First day of school is Thursday, Sept. 6, with an early dismissal: Frog Pond and GJM dismiss at 12:50 p.m. and the Early Childhood Learning Center dismisses at 1:15 p.m. Friday, Sept. 7, is a full day of school.

Back to school nights are: George J. Mitchell School, Sept. 12 at 6 p.m.; Frog Pond School, Sept. 13 at 6 p.m.; and the Early Childhood Center, Oct. 3 at 6 p.m.

McCooley’s “Sit with Sup” informal meetings in her office with parents and community members will now alternate between the Little Egg Harbor School District (Sept. 24 at 1 p.m.) and Pinelands Regional (October 29 at 6 p.m.). The entire schedule can be viewed on the Little Egg Harbor School District Facebook page (keep scrolling).

The board approved two contracts with Bay Tree Experts and Landscaping LLC to cut down trees at both the George J. Mitchell School ($9,600) and Frog Pond School ($12,800). Business Administrator Nick Brown said the tree clearing was for security reasons.

The board approved a $24,500 contract with 5 Star Property Management and Landscaping LLC for the installation of a drainage system at both schools. Board members said the work (installing French drains) at the Frog Pond School would eliminate ponding between the school and the administrative building.

Business administration secretary and administrator Ann Facemyer is retiring after 15 years and was thanked for her service. “It won’t be easy to replace you and the way you ran that office and the amount of knowledge you have. You stayed with us through the search for a new business administrator. We are deeply going to miss you,” said board President August Daleo.

Facemyer’s last day is in December; she will return in May when the board thanks retirees.

— Pat Johnson

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