Sept - Oct. Monthly Message with FAQs

Greetings,

We will all likely agree that the past few weeks have been very challenging and stressful for our families, students, staff and community. Many of us have experienced times in our lives that require us to proceed with poise and emotional maturity.  To that end, we appreciate the patience of everyone during this time.

When it comes to making decisions which have significant ramifications, thoughtful deliberation and careful analysis of the needs of each school community is essential.  As we move forward, we must consider that as new information presents itself, we must adjust and lead with clarity. 
It is important that working together during difficult times is essential.  Together, we focus our work always about what is best for students, staff, and community members.  Montclair is a thoughtful district, and we are a family. Accordingly, we must always remember this and do our best to exhibit the tenets of a family.

We will all likely agree that the past few weeks have been very challenging and stressful for our families, students, staff and community. Many of us have experienced times in our lives that require us to proceed with poise and emotional maturity.  To that end, we appreciate the patience of everyone during this time.

When it comes to making decisions which have significant ramifications, thoughtful deliberation and careful analysis of the needs of each school community is essential.  As we move forward, we must consider that as new information presents itself, we must adjust and lead with clarity. 
It is important that working together during difficult times is essential.  Together, we focus our work always about what is best for students, staff, and community members.  Montclair is a thoughtful district, and we are a family. Accordingly, we must always remember this and do our best to exhibit the tenets of a family.

To this end, please note:

  • Teachers are the best resource to discuss how your child is doing. Please reach out to them directly regarding how your child is doing.

  • If there is a question or concern, please go to the individual closest to the work.
    Attendance expectations are governed by New Jersey state law. Should you have questions, please review the link below.  We must enforce state expectations.

  • Essential skills by content can be found at NJDOE’s website and Montclair Public School’s website:
    NJDOE: CCCS
    Montclair Public Schools: District Curricula

  • All Superintendent “all district” communications can be found on my Communications and Collaborations web page.
     
  • Community Forums are scheduled on October 29, 2018 and November 5, 2018.
    October 29, 2018: LGBTQA+ Literacy Conversation: Please see my “all district” communications page.
    November 5, 2018: Middle School Vaping Conversation. Please see an announcement in an upcoming principal newsletter.
    Future Community Forums are being planned. Given the interest in the 504 process, we will certainly begin the planning process in this area.

In an effort to respond to multiple questions presented to me and others, please see the questions and answers, below.

Please note that moving forward, I will be sending all facilities updates pertaining to the high school only to the MHS community and will continue to post the updates on our website so everyone can view. I will also continue to post reports given at Board Meetings. With this streamlined approach, the “All District” communications will be more suited to all schools.

Respectfully,

Kendra Johnson, J.D., Ed.D.
Superintendent

Q and A: Facilities

Question #1: Why can’t the District perform the asbestos removal over winter break or on the weekend?
Answer #1: Asbestos removal for a three-level stair tower takes more than one week.  Also, once you start the abatement, you cannot stop as there is an asbestos protocol.

Please see additional information about asbestos removal on the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) website.

Question #2:   
A. What is the revised facilities plan now?
B. Why does the plan continue to change?

Answer #2:     
A. We must vacate the entire Main Building to engage in the safest asbestos abatement protocol.  To that end, we will close the Main Building after Advance Placement (AP) testing concludes and seniors begin senior option.  Most seniors will be out of the building then.  We will move all remaining students (grades 9-11) to the Annex.  On May 20, 2019, we will begin an abbreviated schedule (four hours in the AM and four hours in the PM).  Students’ schedules will be reduced to four hours a day. We are looking at a rotating schedule similar to that used at Buzz Aldrin (if you are familiar).  The plan is final. However, we will solidify the plan in the coming months.

B. As new information comes in, we must adjust accordingly. As leaders, we must and will lead through all changes. Moving forward, facilities updates will only be sent to MHS parents/guardians; however, all updates will be available on my communications webpage.

Question #3: When will we have more details about the proposed A shift/B shift schedule?
Answer #3:  We will work with school-based leaders and teachers to explore how to best accomplish the continuity of instruction during the last three weeks of school. We will always include student voice and parent/guardian voice.  Parents/guardians were sent a survey to collect their voice last Wednesday.

Q and A: Administrative Changes

Question #4: Why is the District making all of the administrative moves so suddenly?
Answer #4: The District has been interviewing since July for the High School Principal position. We held three rounds of interviews (more than 10 candidates were interviewed). Four candidates moved forward to the second round. Additionally, more than 10+ hours of actual in-person interviewing and several days of reviewing and vetting applications took place. Once a potential high school principal was identified, subsequent conversations and interviews ensued.

Several internal meetings were held to ascertain next steps. On October 15, my recommended appointments were approved. On October 16, three faculty meetings were held to discuss the appointments with school staff. On October 17, a letter went out to all MPS parents/guardians. There were less than 48 hours from the Board approval of my recommended appointments to the sending of a letter to families with notification.

It is important to note that the District is still running during these announcements, meetings are still occurring, students are still being taught and the business of the District is still occurring. Although parents/guardians would like immediate notification and/or more detailed information, information is sent as quickly as possible while also adhering to an internal notification protocol.


Question #5: Why didn’t Dr. Johnson share more information about the new administrators when she sent the October 17, 2018 e-blast?
Answer #5: In the October 17, 2018 e-blast, Dr. Johnson noted that a Meet and Greet for each incoming principal would be held.  An in-person meeting is the preferred introduction.   

The Meet and Greet schedule is as follows:

Edgemont School — Mr. Jeffrey Freeman
Date: October 25, 2018
Location: Edgemont School Multipurpose Room
Time: 6:30 - 7:30 PM

Glenfield Middle School — Ms. Cheryl Hopper
Date: November 1, 2018
Location: Glenfield Middle School Library
Time: 7 – 8 PM

Montclair High School — Mr. Anthony Grosso
Date: November 5, 2018
Location: MHS Annex Atrium 
Time: 6:30 – 7:30 PM
NOTE:  Mr. Grosso will also attend the SATp meeting on October 23, 2018 (LGI at 7:00PM)

Each incoming administrator will send an introduction letter the day their official job begins, which is November 1, 2018.  (The only exception to this start date is for the Acting Assistant Principal position).  We will not make any moves and leave our students without a permanent, full-time teacher.  It is important that we allow each new administrator to introduce himself/herself/themselves to their respective new communities.  There is something to be said of personal introduction.  Such introductions allow individuals to make personal contact as much can be lost in written communication.

Q and A:  Revised 2018-2019 Calendar

Question #6:
A. Why did the District close school for all schools on November 6, 2018 instead of just closing Montclair High School?
B. Why did the school district wait so late to let students, staff, parents/guardians and community know about the calendar change?
Answer #6:     
A. First, we are a school district and not a district of schools.  With this being said, if we closed only for Montclair High School, we would need to make up three days instead of two.  Also, we would need to add an additional day for all other schools (if we were to use all scheduled snow days).  Given we had a professional development day on June 26, 2019, we simply moved that professional development day to November 6, 2018.   Per New Jersey State Law, we must have 180 school days.

B. The goal was to have the temporary classrooms installed and fully functional by October 24, 2018. While delivery of the temporary classrooms began today, the American with Disabilities Act (ADA) ramps that fit the temporary classrooms are on back-order. Said ramps will arrive in the days to follow, and we now have a tentative date for fully operational temporary classrooms in the first-second week of November.

The electricity, furniture and external fire alarm system must be installed.
As new information becomes available, we must adjust and simply lead through it. Regrettably, the availability of equipment is outside of our control.

Question #7:  What can I do if I need childcare support on November 6, 2018?
Answer #7:  Please review the YMCA’s website, where information about Staycation is available.  Parents/guardians can also call the Y‘s Front Desk at 973-744-3400, email Kim Griffiths,  or call her at 973-415-6102.

Question #8: As it pertains to Montclair High School, when will we make up the two school days? 
Answer #8: At this time, the decision has not been made. Montclair High staff, students and parents/guardians will be surveyed.  Then, a recommendation will be made to the Board of Education.  This decision will only impact Montclair High School.  Montclair High School parents/guardians can complete the survey.

Question #9: Did the revised calendar change impact the high school’s graduation date?
Answer #9: Yes, the new graduation date is June 26, 2019.  Remember, the District must ensure we have 180 days of student school days before or when graduation takes place.  June 26, 2019 will count as a school day and count toward our 180 days of student school days.  We will find an alternative location for graduation because the Montclair High School auditorium will not be available for use. Additional information regarding the graduation venue is forthcoming.

Q and A: Leave of Absences

Question #10: 
A. Why aren’t parents/guardians immediately notified of a teacher’s leave of absence?
B. Why aren’t the classrooms immediately covered by certified teachers?

Answer #10:   
A. Parents/guardians are immediately notified of a teacher’s leave of absence.  However, there are some instances when a teacher is dealing with an urgent situation and is unable to notify us. Multiple day-to-day absences are not deemed a leave of absence until a teacher notifies the school.  It is important to note that teachers are mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, sons, daughters, friends, etc.  Life happens, and we must adjust. 

B. As soon as teachers notify the District of their leave of absence, the District advertises for a leave of absence replacement teacher.  It is at this time the school principal/assistant principal sends a letter to families.  In order to be a long-term substitute (more than 40 days), one must have a certification in the content being taught.  Daily substitutes require a substitute certification.
Website by SchoolMessenger Presence. © 2019 West Corporation. All rights reserved.