June @ HTS…

Dear HTS Community:

The next few weeks are very busy with many activities both during the week and on weekends. In addition to regular end of year activities such as final exams, we have the following events:

  • Saturday, May 31 from 10:00-1:00 is the fourth annual PTO Car Show. We hope you can join us for a fun day. As always, we will have muscle cars, classic automobiles, authentic WWII-era US Army Jeeps and this year, for the first time, we will have a Tesla available for a test drive.
  • The final Vision Council meeting of the 2013-2014 school year will be held on Wednesday, June 4 (8:30-9:30am) in the Library/Media Center. The topic is the Quest (gifted and talented) Program. Mrs. Bailey and Mr. Spelker will be present to discuss integral components of our award-winning Quest Program. Time will be allotted for parent Q&A as well.
  • On Thursday, June 5, the annual Spring Art Show (6:00) and Concert (7:00) will be held in the gymnasium. The HTS Chorus, Jazz Band and Orchestra will be playing the classics and much more. Please come out and support the arts @ HTS.
  • Friday, June 6 is our annual Field Day extravaganza. Come out and root for Team White (or Blue) during the morning and then root for the staff in the ever-popular grade 8 vs staff tug-of-war match.
  • Although not officially a school event, Friday, June 6 is also the date of the annual New Vernon Volunteer Fire Department Steak and Lobster Dinner! For more information, please click here.
  • Sunday, June 8 is the second annual PTO 5K Race and 1 Mile Children’s Fun Run. Stay after the race for some family fun. We will have a 25’ rock climbing wall, Morristown Cross-Fit and plenty of barbecue for everyone.
  • Lastly, let’s not forget about all those great HTS dads on Sunday, June 15, the grandest holiday of the year!

Sincerely,

Alex Anemone

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Mr. Frelinghuysen Goes to Washington…

Dear HTS Community:

Last week, Congressman Frelinghuysen visited HTS and spoke with our fourth grade students. Our students learned about civics from what historians call a “primary source.” In addition, Congressman Frelinghuysen allowed the students to ask questions about Congress, the President, and even foreign affairs. Each student received a pin, a copy of the U.S. Constitution and the school received an American flag that was recently flown over the U.S. Capitol Building. One of our fourth graders, Maya T. wrote an essay summarizing the visit – please read it below:
Getting to Know Congressman Frelinghuysen

On May 19, 2014 an amazing man came to the Harding Township School. His name is Rodney Frelinghuysen. But, most people call him “Congressman Frelinghuysen”. He is a Congressman. Frelinghuysen plays a very important role in his job. He works at the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington D.C. As a Congressman, he helps to make laws. Mr. Frelinghuysen’s visit was very interesting. He came to meet the fourth graders at the Harding Township School. He came to talk to us about his job and tell us a little about his life.

Do you really know Congressman Frelinghuysen?
Mr. Frelinghuysen has lived in America all his life. He lives on James Street in Harding, New Jersey. Mr. Frelinghuysen has two daughters. His oldest daughter teaches a kindergarten class. Before he became a Congressman, he was drafted into the Army. He trained at Fort Dix. Then went to fight in Vietnam. He served in the Army from 1969-1971. As a child, Mr. Frelinghuysen went to the Peck School in Morristown, New Jersey. His father also went to the Peck School.

What would it be like as a Congressman?
As I said before, Mr. Frelinghuysen plays a very important role in his job. He represents the 11th District of New Jersey, which includes parts of Morris, Essex, Passaic, and Sussex Counties. Mr. Frelinghuysen has been a Congressman for about twenty years. He works in the House of Representatives, in the U.S Capitol Building. Mr. Frelinghuysen’s term is up every two years. So, he has been voted for ten times! There are 435 people in the House of Representatives that represent the American people, both men and women. Mr. Frelinghuysen cares a lot about his job; he drives from Harding to Washington every Monday. Then on Friday he drives back to Harding. Keeping himself educated, Mr. Frelinghuysen reads three newspapers a day, reads tons of books, and watches a little bit of news on television. Mr. Frelinghuysen actually gets to meet the President. He meets him at least twice a year. Mr. Frelinghuysen makes $168,000 a year.
I am very, very happy that Congressman Frelinghuysen came to visit! I learned a lot of information from his visit. Hopefully, more fourth graders after us get to meet Rodney Frelinghuysen. I am hoping we have more great representatives like him in the future. Thank you Congressman Frelinghuysen for coming! Also, thank you Mr. Spelker, Ms. Mulligan and Ms. Hinds for organizing this event!

 

Creative Coders…

Dear HTS Community:

Earlier this year, the HTEF approved a grant for an after school STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Math) program called “Creative Coders.” This grant supported two professors from local universities coming in to HTS to teach our students how to code. This endeavor was a follow-up activity inspired by our participation in the Hour of Code. The students that participated in the Creative Coders were in grades 4-5-6 and they all finished the intensive 8-week program.

Last night at the Board of Education meeting, two of our students – Skylar W. and Tia J. – presented their finished projects to the school community. They created video games using various coding strategies. Their games required participants to complete a series of challenges in a fixed amount of time, without losing their health, and while jumping on clouds, and bricks, and while throwing fireballs, and sliding down invisible (or maybe partly visible?) doors and then going underground….trust me, it all made sense seeing it live. These games were innovative, inspired and very challenging to create. Moreover, Skylar and Tia practiced their public speaking extemporaneously in front of a large crowd in the library/media center. They handled this portion of the evening with great aplomb.

Congratulations to all our coders!

Sincerely,

Alex Anemone

 

Memorandum of Agreement…

Dear HTS Community:

Congratulations to the Harding Township Board of Education and the Harding Township Education Association! Last night at the Board of Education meeting, the Board unanimously ratified a Memorandum Of Agreement (MOA) for a successor contract that stretches from July 1, 2014 to June 30, 2017. Last week, the MOA was approved by the HTEA. That this historic agreement was able to be completed before the expiration of the existing contract speaks to the collaborative nature of the negotiations process and to the determination of both parties. Moreover, this contract was settled with the Board incurring minimal attorney fees. Personally, I look forward to continued partnership between our Board and our teaching staff. Contract highlights include:

  • Salary increase of 8.1% over the three year period.
  • All staff members will continue to contribute towards their health care premiums in an amount equal to the statutory salary health care contribution in accordance with the provisions of c.78 P.L. 2011, commonly known as “Chapter 78” or as otherwise required by law, whichever is greater.
  • All co-curricular stipends (coaches, clubs, etc.) will remain unchanged for all three years of the contract.
  • Additionally, we have added non-instructional contact time in this agreement. All teachers will be assigned two (2) twenty-minute periods of lunch duty or recess duty or study hall duty per week. We believe that this condition will improve the culture and climate during our lunch and recess periods and look forward to continued progress in this area. Based on the parent feedback that was received via the spring 2013 Culture and Climate survey, this was an area of focus this year. The Board and administration are happy to partner with our teaching staff and anticipate improvements for the 2014-2015 school year.

Sincerely,

Alex Anemone

2014-2015 HTS Budget…

Dear HTS Community:

Last night at the Board of Education meeting, the Board approved the final 2014-2015 Harding Township School budget. Specific information, including the 2014-2015 User Friendly Budget can be found on our website. In addition, the Budget Connections newsletter was mailed to all township homes in late April.

The total budget that was approved was increased by only 1.90% with a modest tax levy increase of 2.60%. This budget is a reflection, in financial terms, of the school district’s priorities. Specifically, there is a strong focus on our core academic mission and a concurrent emphasis on social-emotional learning, co-curricular activities, technology integration and maintaining our very small class size. Additionally, our administrative costs have been lowered significantly and we have budgeted money for our capital needs.

Last week, the New Jersey Department of Education released an additional school funding clarification memorandum. Based on the 2008 School Funding Reform Act (SFRA) formula, Harding Township School should be receiving $364,473 in categorical state aid. This year our district received only $233,677. The underfunding of 56% critically impacts our school district and places undue pressure on local property taxes. Moreover, this underfunding has been compounded year over year since 2010, leaving the district underfunded over the past five years by approximately $960,000!

Also at the meeting last night, the Board voted to accept a $29,075 donation from the PTO for Smartboard refurbishments in the elementary school. As mentioned in previous blog posts, this project will be completed over the summer recess. Lastly, a message from the PTO:

The PTO appreciates all their donors and wants to invite all parents to a social event at the Kemmerer Library on Wednesday, May 14 from 8:00-9:30pm. Be on the lookout for the official “e-vite” later this week.

Sincerely,

Alex Anemone