Student Leadership…

Dear WMTPS Community,

 

Earlier today, students at both Macopin School and West Milford High School participated in a national movement designed to honor the victims of the school shooting in Parkland, Florida. Today marks one month since that tragedy and I am proud of our students, in particular our student council leadership, for creating such a moving tribute to their peers at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Their message – No Politics. No Hate. Just Love. We Are The Future – was inspiring to all. At WMHS, students who elected to participate exited their classrooms at 10:00 and sat silently in the hallways for seventeen minutes, one minute for each person who lost his/her life. At Macopin, the process was the same except the students sat silently in the auditorium. The students who participated were all respectful and at 10:17, they began to make their way back to their classrooms. Due to the unique set of circumstances that inspired the walkout and also due to the courteous and responsible nature of the children who participated, none of the students will be disciplined. At approximately 10:20, our school day resumed as regularly scheduled. I would also like to thank the West Milford Police Department for their assistance this morning. As a precaution, we asked for police support outside of both schools this morning and they were able to assist us.

 

If you have any questions about this matter, please do not hesitate to contact me.

 

Best,

 

Alex Anemone, Ed.D.

Superintendent of Schools

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School Safety and PTA Visits…

Dear WMTPS Community,

 

The event in Parkland, Florida has left us all searching for an answer to the question, “How can we make our schools safer?”  This spring, I will be visiting a PTA meeting in every school to meet with families and listen to their concerns and ideas about school safety. The dates are below:

  • Apshawa – Thursday, March 15,
  • Westbrook – Wednesday, March 21
  • Marshall Hill – Wednesday, April 4
  • Upper Greenwood Lake – Monday, April 16
  • Macopin – Friday, April 20
  • Maple Road – Wednesday, April 25
  • High School – Wednesday, May 9
  • Paradise Knoll – Thursday, May 10

 

The Board of Education is in the process of completing its budget for the 2018-2019 school year. We are looking for ways to efficiently budget money to provide for an increase in school safety. Please know that many of the improvements that we make are shared with administration, but not necessarily with the entire school community. I look forward to seeing you at these meetings.

 

Best,

 

Alex Anemone, Ed.D.

Superintendent of Schools

February 28, 2018…

Dear WMTPS Community,

 

At the Board of Education meeting last night, I mentioned some of the safety and security protocols that are implemented daily/weekly/monthly in our schools. As a part of this discussion, I mentioned that every threat is taken seriously by our staff and investigated. Earlier today, a student at the High School reported to a staff member that there was some graffiti on the bathroom stall indicating a potential bomb threat at either Macopin or the High School. A shelter in place was announced and the building was swept for devices. As a precautionary measure, the WMPD was contacted and they responded, as they always do, promptly and with our students’ best interests in mind. I would like to take a moment to thank the responding officers for their professionalism and assistance today.

The investigation revealed that the threat was not credible and classes resumed approximately 30 minutes after the shelter in place was called. Our students remained calm throughout the incident but if you feel as though your child was traumatized, please inform a teacher or administrator and we can facilitate the offering of counseling services and/or mental health resources. Lastly, I would like to thank all the parents who did not call or email the school during this activity. This allowed us to focus our efforts on our students in both buildings.

If you have any questions about this matter, feel free to contact me.

 

Best,

 

Alex Anemone, Ed.D.

Superintendent of Schools

Mid Year Budget Update…

Dear WMTPS Community,

 

Earlier this week, the Board of Education held a special meeting to discuss and review the budget process for the 2018-2019 school year. The first draft of the budget (General Fund) reveals a modest increase of 1.25%. This process began in October with staff meetings and will not finish until the Board adopts a budget at the Tuesday, April 24 Board of Education meeting. This meeting, also referred to as the Public Hearing on the Budget, will complete the budgeting process. The Board will continue to meet to discuss all of the variables that will affect the final budget that is advertised in the newspaper, approved by the Board, and submitted to the Executive County Superintendent.

The budget that is approved is a statement, in financial terms, of the district’s educational priorities. This budget serves as a management tool that projects and balances the district’s revenues and expenses, gauges efficiencies, and is a reflection of the community’s values. Specifically, it emphasizes and funds neighborhood schools, small class sizes, and includes an investment in professional development for our staff. Earlier this autumn, the Board’s Budget and Finance Committee developed a set of Budget Guidelines that will help inform the budgeting process. These guidelines reflect a commitment to zero-based budgeting principles and a strong desire to stay within the confines of the tax levy cap, per State law. Moreover, these guidelines also signal a commitment to continue to align the budget process with district goals and to operationalize staffing reductions with respect to student enrollment trends.

There are many different variables that will affect the final 2018-2019 budget. Some of these variables (in particular, State Aid and Health Benefits Cost) are still unknown and we are using estimates until we receive final confirmation regarding these line items. These estimates are likely to change and as they change, the budget will be amended. To summarize:

  • The budget (General Fund) as of February 23, 2018 is projected to rise by 1.25%
  • The Board of Education is committed to serving taxpayers and families to create the best, most efficient education for our children.
  • Additional Board of Education meetings will be held on Tuesday, March 20 (Preliminary Budget Hearing) and Tuesday, April 24 (Public Hearing on the Budget). Both of these meetings will be held at 7:30p.m. in the Westbrook School Media Center.

 

If you have any questions about this matter, please do not hesitate to contact us.

 

 

Best,

 

Alex Anemone, Ed.D.

Superintendent of Schools

Barbara Francisco

Business Administrator

February 15, 2018…

Dear WMTPS Community,

 

As you have already heard, yesterday there was another school shooting. This time it was in Parkland, Florida. Please note that if you believe your child is distressed, we have a full complement of trained counselors working in our schools and they are all ready to meet with your child and share essential resources with families.

Psychology Today published an excellent article that will help parents and children cope with these types of situations. The article is entitled, How to Talk to Kids About Mass Shootings and Attacks and contains some positive actions we can all take to manage this dreadful situation. Some excerpts are below:

  • The most important thing is to reassure them that you will take care of them and keep them safe, and that there are many more good people in the world than bad. For older kids, you could say, “There have always been tragedies that people cope with by having faith, talking, and helping others.” Reassure them that shootings and attacks are very unlikely to happen to them, their friends, or family.
  • Ask how they feel about the event and validate their feelings, “It’s OK to be scared and sad, and I feel that way too. But I know we’ll be okay.” Don’t emphasize your own fears you may have, because kids look to us for reassurance and calmness.
  • Emphasize the help and sympathy from strangers who care about victims and that people are working hard to keep things like this from happening again. Talk about how your family can help such as by donating money or time, or sending letters to victims’ families or communities.
  • Ask if they have any questions (it’s okay not to have all the answers) and say you’d like to talk again whenever they want. Say it’s good to talk about concerns but there’s a point where it’s better to get away from the topic—when it doesn’t help but just makes us sad, worried, or angry.

 

Sincerely,

 

Alex Anemone, Ed.D.

Superintendent of Schools

Star Math and Three New State Schools of Character…

Dear WMTPS Community,

 

Over the past two weeks, students in grades 2-8 have completed the second administration of STAR Math Assessment. You will be receiving a copy of this report along with your child’s report card later this week. Please check the percentile rank (PR) metric which compares your child to students in the same grade from across the nation. This percentile rank may have changed since the first administration in late September.

Earlier this school year, we asked all stakeholders to complete the 2017-2018 Culture and Climate Survey. At the January 23rd Board of Education meeting, we shared the results of the survey with the Board and with the community. Since this was the second year of this survey, we were able to disaggregate the data and make year-over-year comparisons. The overall trend is positive. Some survey highlights:

  • An 18.8% increase of respondents who strongly agree that, “Teachers treat students with respect”.
  • A 20% increase of respondents who strongly agree that, “Other adults at school treat student with respect”.
  • A 21.5% increase of respondents who strongly agree that, “The school encourages students to perform kind actions”.
  • A 30.3% increase of respondents who strongly agree that, “Students treat other students with respect, regardless of differences”.
  • A 43% increase of respondents who strongly agree that, “Students are willing to help other students, even if they are not friends”.

We will use this data to continue to improve our culture and climate so our teachers can teach and our students can learn in a safe and secure learning environment. Moreover, three of our schools – Apshawa, Westbrook, and West Milford High School have earned the prestigious distinction of being named as a State School of Character. These three schools join *Upper Greenwood Lake, Paradise Knoll, *Maple Road, and *Macopin as State Schools of Character. Congratulations also go to Marshall Hill for being named as an Honorable Mention State School of Character.

Lastly, congratulations to WMHS Wrestling Coach Taylor Pevny on being named as Passaic County Wrestling Coach of the Year! Coach Pevny is a Highlander alumnus and an outstanding example of our #HometownPride.

 

Best,

 

Alex Anemone, Ed.D.

Superintendent of Schools

 

*Also honored as National Schools of Character.

Public Service Announcement…

Dear WMTPS Community,

 

I hope this message finds you enjoying a restful Holiday break. I am writing to inform you that there is an anonymous website that is requesting our students send inappropriate photos of themselves to this website. We are working collaboratively with the West Milford Police Department and Passaic County Prosecutor’s Office and they will be investigating this matter. In the meanwhile, it might be prudent to discuss some online safety tips with your children.

If you believe your child has been the victim of a cyber-crime, please contact the West Milford Police Department Juvenile Bureau at 973-728-2800

 

 

Best,

 

Alex Anemone, Ed.D.

Superintendent of Schools