Monday, February 26, 2024

Frelinghuysen School Rated No. 2 in Warren County by State Educators

On the cusp of what Chief School Administrator Stephanie Bonaparte called “the busiest month in schools,” Frelinghuysen’s board of education (BOE) met to discuss the past, the present, the future: a gratifying school performance report for the past year, a host of events in the present and some budgeting, bussing and security questions for the future.

April and May are busy times for Frelinghuysen. Bonaparte reported that the pre-K to third grade band concert was standing room only. On May 3rd, the school hosted its TREP$ Marketplace. Over 50 fourth, fifth and sixth grade students made and sold their own products in a flea market-style shopping event to get a taste of entrepreneurship.

Frelinghuysen’s staff, board of education, and parent-teacher organization also enjoyed their own special event on May 2nd in the form of an appreciation breakfast.

Schoolwide, Frelinghuysen has another reason to celebrate. The New Jersey Department of Education recently revealed its performance reports for all public schools across the state.

Performance reports draw from a variety of data, including test scores, discipline records, staff information, graduation and enrollment records, and school and district narratives to create a snapshot of a school’s overall performance.

Frelinghuysen’s performance report shows that students are meeting their state targets for test scores. But the most eye-catching highlight is Frelinghuysen’s summative score, which boils the school’s overall success down to a single number.

Frelinghuysen Township School has the second-highest summative score in Warren County, behind only Lopatcong Township Middle School.

Officials from the department of education caution that school ratings should be read with nuance. Two schools might receive similar scores, for example, but that score might reflect wildly different areas of strengths and weaknesses.

All school performance reports are available to the public on the New Jersey Department of Education website.

The BOE hopes to continue providing the same level of service, despite formalizing a reduced budget for next year. Bonaparte reminded the BOE of challenging changes in the budget: reduced funding due to declining pre-K and special education enrollment, plus another $49,000 cut in state aid due to New Jersey’s S2 legislation.

She hopes to balance the budget with grants, state supplemental aid and some reallocation of administrator salaries.

“Our goal is always to maintain our current program,” Bonaparte said. “We don’t want to take anything from our students.”

There might be some minor changes in bussing, though. The BOE is bidding on bussing contracts for next year, but some bussing companies have conflicting schedules with the local high schools.

To make room for both schedules, Frelinghuysen’s buses might change their pickup and dropoff times. If they do, however, it wouldn’t be by more than 15 minutes.

The search for next year’s chief school administrator also continues. BOE President Kim Neuffer thanked the community for filling out the CSA survey. The BOE will host several executive sessions over the next few weeks as they enter the next stage of the search.

In the public comment portion of the meeting, David Togno returned to his security concerns from the previous meeting.

“It’s an uncomfortable conversation to have, but we’ve got to talk about it,” he said.

“It’s in the works,” Bonaparte replied. “We didn’t just leave the conversation on the table at the last meeting. We have done a lot of work with it. We are moving as quickly as possible.”

Chip O'Chang
Chip O'Chang, Contributing Writer
Contributing Writer

Chip O'Chang is an educator, fiction writer, and lifelong resident of New Jersey. He has also written for My Life Publications and NJ Indy. He lives in the NJ Skylands with his partner, two cats, and and a bearded dragon.