Community Forum
Questions Do you have a question for us?
Here is the place to ask your questions and get answers. 
 
 
 
 
Please submit your question by completing the form below.  Questions will be reviewed by the board and answers will be posted to this site. 
 
*The Board reserves the right to edit or reject questions regarding the Allamuchy Township School District based on content.  Civil and polite inquiries are gladly addressed.*
 
 

Q:  We have been told that the board plans to move the second grade over to mountain villa in order to make room so that they can bring in kids with behavioral problems from throughout warren county so that Allamuchy will get the funding for these kids. When do you plan on letting parents here know that kids with behavior problems will now be sharing the hallways with our kids?

A:  Neither the Administration nor the Board has said that the Board plans to move second grade to Mountain Villa in order to make room for behavioral programs.  The district is planning on putting second grade at Mountain Villa.  That has always been the plan for Mountain Villa.  This certainly will open up desired possibilities to reallocate the space at Allamuchy Township School for any purposes that may occur.  Having room availability allows us to address the many needs that our own students may have and may allow for future tuition students to help offset costs.

Q: It is common knowledge that the nurses were asked to reapply for their jobs next year. Why were they asked if they weren't going to keep their jobs? We were told the board plan is to hired cheaper less educated hospital nurses for a lot less money. Yes we will have full time coverage like you stated but at what cost? Have you thought about the kids at all in this who have been with these nurses for years??

A:  The “common knowledge” is mistaken.  As for being told that “the Board has a plan to hire cheaper less educated hospital nurses for a lot less money”, that information is false.  The Board as a whole has not discussed the reorganization of the nursing services in the district.  The reorganization of the nursing staff  has been discussed in the Board’s finance committee as one of the methods to maintain service while economizing.  The possibility of reorganization of the nursing department offers a cost savings to the district while maintaining nursing service for the district.  Personnel changes happen in all organizations for a variety of reasons.  We are committed to the health and safety of our students.

 Q:  Sounds like our kids are suffering because the board messed up the budget. We were just told that in order to have money problem kids are being brought into our school system to get the state funds. Why is this information not being sent to the parents and taxpayers?

A:  In the Board Report of January 2015, (http://www.aes.k12.nj.us/cms/lib04/NJ01001493/Centricity/Domain/5/57709%20-%20Allamuchy%20Bd%20of%20Ed%20Color.pdf),  the Board has reported to the community the challenges that is faces,  primarily ones of increased costs which could not be anticipated. In order to deal with these challenges, all areas of operation of the District have been examined and will continue to be examined.  The Board has entered into a contract for electricity beginning in late 2015 or early 2016 from a solar array to be constructed on Board property thereby reducing costs.  The District has entered into an agreement with Hackettstown to defer some current tuition to a year of lower enrollment for this current period of our highest historical enrollment there.  The Board and the Administration will continue to examine all appropriate opportunities to economize, reduce expenses or generate non-tax revenues.  In that regard, the District has neither discussed nor planned the budget around any specific opportunities to bring outside programs into the District.  However, in discharging its duty to explore all appropriate opportunities, the Board will always examine and consider any appropriate opportunity to bring in educational programming, especially if it serves the needs of our students.

Notwithstanding the challenges the District has faced, it must be remembered that every educational program remains intact.  The budget under discussion for 2015-2016 does not propose to cut any programming.  This is to be contrasted with many districts in the area, including our neighbors at North Warren and Newton, that are currently considering cuts to staffing and programming, not only for next year but this year too, because of the fiscal difficulties that school districts throughout New Jersey are facing.

Q: The new school calendar is out. Two questions : why are we getting out so late in June this year?? Also this calendar says we have six snow days again.  If we don't use them will days be taken off the end of year?
A:  The school year is complete after the mandatory number of attendance days are satisfied.  For students:  180.  For staff:  184
There are six snow days built into the calendar for 2015-16 and if not used will be subtracted from the end of the year.
 
Q:  I heard that the district will be reducing nursing services to one nurse. Is this true? If so, please explain the justification for this and how the district expects one school nurse to effectively oversee the nursing needs of over 425 students in two buildings? Some students may require daily care for diabetes or asthma, not to mention unexpected sick students or emergencies.
A:  The 2015-16 budget is still in development.  Staffing decisions are always made with the safety and well being of students being a priority.  There will be full time health care coverage provided at both of our schools.
 
Q:  Can you clarify the school calendar in light of the extraordinary amount of snow days we have been using?
A:  There are four snow days built into the calendar for 2014-15.  As of March 5th, we have used 5 days. The give back day will be the Friday of Memorial Day weekend, which will now be a regular school day. The school calendar can be found at http://www.aes.k12.nj.us/cms/lib04/NJ01001493/Centricity/Domain/1/2014-15%20Calendar%20%20.pdf
 
 
Q:  The first day of the school year at Allamuchy is normally after Labor Day. Labor Day 2015 is September 7.  Other schools have already announced their first day of school for 2015-16 as September 3. We've booked our yearly vacation for the same week we normally take - which is the full week before Labor Day.  When is ATS first day of school for 2015-16?
 A:  The calendar for 2015-16 has not been set as of this date (February 26, 2015).  Most districts in Warren County follow the mutually developed Warren County Calendar, which has not been finalized.  This is done to better coordinate inter district services such as transportation and professional development.  The calendar is usually set in the April prior to the next school year and on the agenda for Board approval during that time frame.
 
 
Q:  Why can't we have a drop off/pick up lane or procedure like every other school. The busses are not convenient to everyone. It is very hard to park and walk or pick up kids especially when you have other kids that have to come with you. Other schools do this routinely. Plus our parking situation is bad at both schools adding to the problem.
 
A:  Every school building has a unique layout in terms of access and traffic flow as well as parking.  The Student-Parent handbook outlines student drop-off procedures for both buildings.  NJ Fire Code designates the curb in front of the buildings as a "No Parking/No Standing Zone" and can only be used for school transportation vehicles or emergency vehicles.  Traffic patterns are established with safety in mind and to avoid two way traffic potentials for vehicle or pedestrian incidents. Parking spaces are available in marked stalls for visitors who must enter the building.  There is no reserved parking at either building, other than the designated handicapped access spots.  Mountain Villa has a designated area for drop off due to the extended time schedules of  the programs housed at that building.
 
Because the Allamuchy Board of Education has designated all routes to each school as hazardous (defined by NJ Administrative Code), transportation is provided for all students.  We encourage parents to utilize district transportation to help ensure a smooth and orderly arrival and departure from school.
 
Detailed information is contained in the Parent-Student Handbook distributed early each school year and posted on our website:
 
Allamuchy Township School:  http://www.aes.k12.nj.us/Page/990
 
Mountain Villa School:  http://www.aes.k12.nj.us/Page/989
Q:  How did hiring Dr. Frederiks as an interim superintendent benefit the district? 
A:  With the resignation of Dr. Cohen in Spring 2014, the search for an interim superintendent began. The purpose of hiring an interim was to allow the board sufficient time to be thoughtful and deliberate in conceptualizing the type of long-term leadership the district would need in order to meet the many challenges that continue to emerge. To that end, the board hired a consultant to guide them in the conceptualization and search process. That process began with three public forums at which the community was invited to express their thoughts about the district and their vision for its future. Having that information in hand, the board proceeded to create a job description for a superintendent and advertise the position, evaluate the CVs and applications of candidates, and to interview five highly qualified professionals. With those stages of the process complete and a firmer understanding on the district’s financial position, the board is poised to finalize its selection.
 
Q.  Two of my kids became ill with severe headache followed by vomiting over the weekend. I post a question to facebook asking if it's going around. I find out 8 kids were sent home over past few school days. 
It would be helpful if the school could send out health alerts in cases like this. 

A.  The schools follow the state approved Nursing Services Plan, as advised by the State and County Departments of Health.  There are protocols for communications regarding confirmed cases of specific illnesses within the school, as defined by the NJDOH.  Non specific illnesses within the school are not formally communicated to the whole community.  Best practice for sanitization as well as suggestions for when parents should retain children at home due to symptoms exhibited are given when needed.
 
Q.  What is going on with the CSA Search?
A.  Although the search for a CSA/Superintendent was suspended near the end of 2014 in order to evaluate more fully the fiscal challenges the district will face in the 2015/2016 school year, the board is again moving forward with its search and hopes to report on its progress in the coming weeks.
 
Q.  What is the process for posting Board Minutes to the website?
A.  Minutes from the previous month's meeting are typically approved at the regular Board meeting each month.  Shortly after the meeting, the approved minutes are posted to the website.  This approval process explains why the posted minutes sometimes appear to be a month or more behind.  Special meeting minutes are approved the same way and are also posted shortly after approval.
 
Q.  Where can I find the agenda for the current meeting?
A.  Agendas are posted the day of the meeting at the bottom of this page on the website:   http://www.aes.k12.nj.us/domain/3
 
Q.  How can I get my questions about the district answered?
A.  In addition to posting your question on this Community Forum, you can always call the school with any questions you may have.  You are also encouraged to attend Board meetings and to participate during the Public Comment portions of the agenda.  Board meeting dates are posted on the website at this address:  http://www.aes.k12.nj.us/domain/9    (note:  new dates were just approved at the reorganization meeting and will be posted ASAP)
 
Q:  Is the district ready for the new PARCC test? 
A:  Yes - both our formative (75%) and EOY (90%) windows have been set.  Our technology has been tested and we did better than most districts during the pilot phase in 2013-14.  Our staff is familiar with both the form and content of the test and we work with our students on test like items constantly.
 
Q:  Are the students learning with the most current language arts series?
A:  Our K-5 LA series is 2 years old, selected by staff, aligned to the Common Core, entitled Reading Wonders by McGraw Hill.  Our 6-8 LA program is literature based (not dependent upon time), primarily using novels, which are updated annually by the teachers.
 
Q:  Are the students learning with the most current math?
A:  Our K-5 Math series is MyMath by McGraw Hill.  This is the third year of implementation.  It is staff selected and aligned to the Common Core.  It also has an on-line resource that is updated annually.  Our 6-8 Math series is Big Ideas by Big Ideas Learning, staff selected and aligned to the Core.  This is the second year for that series.
 
Q:   Are the students learning with the most current science series? 
A:  Our science series are both older, as we placed heavy emphasis on acquiring newer LA and Math resources.  That being said, our staff does a great job readapting our older texts (K-5 Silver Burdett and 6-8 Glencoe) to meet the demands of the new curriculum.  When the Next Gen Science Standards are fully deployed (Fall 2017), we should be focussing on materials that align.  This should be a budget priority for the 2016-17 school year.  To do it earlier would not be advisable, as things could change.
 
Q:   How is the bullying program administered and how does it work?
A:  For our anti-bullying program, we utilize a research based program entitled "Olweus" - our staff is trained and we work with our school safety teams and our grade level teams to deliver our character education program.  From a compliance perspective, we follow the state protocols regarding staff positions, training, timelines, notifications and reporting.  We have parent workshops (typically poorly attended).  Our next workshop will be on November 18th and information will be distributed about one week prior.
 
Q:  Why doesn't the school have enough textbooks for every student?
A:  That is only the case in some grades/some subjects and is a function of budget, primarily.  In those cases, our teachers are resourceful by either using alternate materials or employing a "class-set" approach to texts.  Teachers know that the textbook is not the focal point of the curriculum and deliver their lessons accordingly.
 
Q:  Why pay to play?  How does that impact the kids?  What do the programs get out of it?  How do they improve?
A:  This was a Board initiative decided last year during the budget process.  To date, we have seen no decline in student participation in activities.  By the way, a quick informal survey reveals we have the most after school activities, clubs and sports of any school in Warren County plus bussing home at the end of the activity.  All of this for $25/child - not a bad deal.  The $25 only pays for a fraction of the cost of running the programs and the rest is offset by the Board.
 
Q:  Why do we need all those Chromebooks? What’s in it for the students?
A:  Many schools have moved to a 1:1 program.  Although we are not there yet, we would like to have as many full class sets as we can so that our MS students and our elementary students can become familiar with tech resources and the platform upon which they will be tested.
 
Q:  Are our 8th grade students ready for Hackettstown? Pope John? Blair?  Why?
A:  We have disproportionate representation in the various honor societies and top ten at HHS every year.  Msgr. McHugh personally attends our HS and beyond evening each fall, because, as he has stated, "some of the strongest PJ students have come from Allamuchy".  We place more students in Blair than any other town in the county, many of whom go on to prestigious, 4 year schools including Ivys.  Our teachers have done and continue to do a great job getting our students ready for HS and College.
 
Q:  When the school report card comes out, why doesn't the district send home or email a response to the parents interpreting the data?
A:  The "report card" is now called the "school performance report".  It has not been released yet for this year.  When it is, the explanation/interpretation is contained on the leading pages.  Presentation and interpretation of test data is done annually at BOE meetings (10/17/14 was the most recent).  Test data helps form district goals.
 
 
 
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