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Task Force to Begin Considering Future of High School

More than 50 residents volunteer to discuss ways to improve school's standing.

Nearly two months after the task force group was formed by Hopatcong High School board members to improve the school district, the group will meet for the first time in the coming weeks.

Board members said at Monday night's BOE meeting that they will meet with a representative from the New Jersey School Boards Association on Tuesday to decide on the group's first meeting date.

Board President Cliff Lundin said that the meeting will either be the last week of October or first week of November.

Lundin, who said the task force's focus will be on the "high school of the future," said that 51 volunteers, including parents, senior citizens, and other community members have signed up to be a part of the group.

Members of the community had until Oct. 1 to sign up to join in for the chance to offer their input for how they wish to see the district improve.

The group was formed in late August a week after New Jersey Monthly ranked the high school number 289th in the state, an 89 spot drop from 2010.

Many parents raised concerns over the low ranking to board members, and school officials agreed with the need for a change.

Despite the ranking, Lundin has said the district has made recent improvements, including changing its K-12 curriculum in math, science and reading to match with state and national standards, investing over $500,000 in new textbooks, and hiring Noreen Lazariuk as the new high school principal.

While Lundin said the task force isn't necessarily a response to the low ranking, he said he wants the group to address it.

Lundin said Monday that this group is the first step in a strategic plan for how to "improve the school to make the system better."

"We want to get the community involved and say, 'What's the perception out there, what are we doing right, what are we doing wrong, how can we make it better,' he said. "Where do want to be in 5 years, where do we want to be in 10 years?"

Lundin also addressed the increase in number of students who have applied to attend a choice school, and said the plan should help out keeping the students in Hopatcong.

Last month the board received 21 requests for eighth-graders to attend Lenape Valley High School in Stanhope next fall instead of Hopatcong.

On Monday night's draft agenda, there were five more requests; two for Morris Hills High School in Rockaway and three more for Lenape Valley High School.

This was also one of the topics discussed at last week's Meet the BOE Candidates event, where both Lundin and board member Joan Reilly agreed that the school's repuation has taken some hits recently.

Lundin said Tuesday's meeting with the School Board Association the representative will also help them in the search for the district's new superintendent, because current superintendent Dr. Charles Maranzano Jr. is retiring after this year.

The goals for the new task force are going to be to address and assess the needs of the high school students  in academics, activities, athletics, the arts, and college and career readiness. The group would be formed as a subcommittee of the school board.

Lundin said Tuesday's meeting will outline both the date of the first task force meeting and outline what the group's procedure will be for how to move forward.

mkn48 October 17, 2012 at 08:45 PM
I wonder why a letter wasn't sent out to all citizens of Hopatcong? Perhaps parents of young kids who will be starting in the school system would have an opinion as well? Only goes to validate why I want to leave this town before my kids start school. All this money in taxes and the system has only gotten worse in the 10 years that I have been in this town. When we bought here, we were given this song and dance about the new superintendent really turning things around. How did that work out Hopatcong? He is retiring on a full pension that most of us would love to have as a salary and the town and school system is perceived to be just as bad as ever.
The Watcher October 20, 2012 at 04:06 AM
Unfortunately you are correct. Seems we just keep adding outrageous pensions and get nothing in return. Maybe that's why the superintendents come here.
Hopatcong Mom of Two October 22, 2012 at 01:43 PM
Don't hold your breath on this plan....It's only going to work if the input is taken into consideration and followed through on.
Peter James October 22, 2012 at 10:10 PM
Two words, "Charter School".... takeover of all Hopatcong Schools. No need for a Superintendent (at least not in it's present form) and DEFINITELY no need for a school board. Why won't it fly even though it's been proven to achieve dramatic results time and time again? You guessed it - "No Need for a school board".
anne m strangeway November 22, 2012 at 02:55 PM
It seems to me that you cannot fix the high school without first fixing all the lower schools which have obviously not been doing an acceptable job of teaching and preparing the students for whatever their next level might be. By the time a student reaches high school it is most often to late to undo the study and work habits that were accepted in the past. I hope the Task Force will look at the whole picture and start reforms from the bottom up.

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