For instance, all students in grades pre-K through 12 in the Union City public schools will have to comply with their new expanded school uniform policy.
The city is still remaining with its single vendor, Uniformity Uniforms in Union City.
"If we don't go to the same vendor, then everyone will start going to different stores, and then it is no longer a uniform policy, it becomes a dress code," said Schools Superintendent Stanley Sanger.
One of the issues raised about the vendor policy was that the contract was not placed out for bid, but Sanger stated months ago that bidding was not necessary because the uniforms are not being purchased by the Board of Education.
"We felt that we followed the proper state guidelines in implementing the policy," said Sanger.
However, in neighboring West New York, the uniform policy only applies to the Early Childhood Program and elementary and middle schools. The policy remains the same this year.
In West New York, the new Public School No. 4 is nearing its completion, which should be in the spring of 2007.
The elementary school, which was one of the final projects approved by the state's School Construction Corporation, will replace the current No. 4 School that celebrated its 100th anniversary at the close of the last school year.
The town is also upgrading the athletic field on Broadway between 53rd and 57th streets, which is shared by both the middle school and Memorial High School.
"We are building a grandstand by the field, which will be completed by late September, as well as team locker rooms for athletic events," said West New York Schools Superintendent Anthony Yankovich.
Union City will also be heralding the opening of their much-anticipated Midtown Sports Complex at Jose Marti Middle School, which is ready for use this first week of September.
"We will be having a grand opening sometime in the latter part of September," said Sanger.
Once the new field is completed at the former Roosevelt Stadium site, both fields will be utilized for school and community athletic events.
"We will share the facilities with the community as we've always said," said Sanger.
In addition to the field, the anticipated new Union City High School has been granted the full $170 million funding by the SCC. The board has since completed the demolition and preparation phase at the Kennedy Blvd. site. Vertical construction will begin sometime in September or October.
The new Early Childhood Center on Kennedy Boulevard is also nearing completion with an anticipated opening date in September 2007.
Demolition has also begun at 1501 Palisade Ave., which will be the new site of Christopher Columbus School. A bid for a contractor will be placed out sometime in the early fall.
Some teachers gone
Due to the state's Supreme Court ruling last May for flat funding to the state's Abbott Special Needs Districts, Union City was left to make up over $5 million in their annual school budget.
The Board of Education had to submit 150 notices of dismissal to certified, non-tenured staff, which included about 40 teachers throughout the district.
"Originally, we had to serve notices of termination to 40 instructional teachers, and we've been able to hire 13 back over the course of the summer due to openings from retirements and others leaving," said Sanger.
The Union City School District had originally applied for an additional $5.2 million in state aid, which they had never gotten before, but were later asked to resubmit a flat-funded budget.
"There have been some reductions to other programs, such as overtime, transportation, extended day programs, and summer school," said Sanger. "At the same time, we are proud of the fact that we will not be disrupting or discontinuing services to our students."
West New York, on the other hand, had not asked for any additional funding and received the same amount they had the year before to run their operations smoothly.
"We are working on a flat budget and we'll be able to apply all the services we provided to the students last year, and our whole staff is coming back," said West New York Schools Superintendent Anthony Yankovich.
New programs in both districts
Despite setbacks with the budget, Union City will be implementing new initiatives this upcoming school year.
"One thing we're doing is establishing small learning communities in our high schools," said Sanger. "Our high schools have made tremendous progress in the last three years, especially with test scores."
The small learning communities will begin with the incoming freshman classes of Union Hill and Emerson high schools, which "allow for personalization and individualization where you are now addressing the social and academic needs of the student," said Sanger.
Union City will be partnering with the Institute for Student Achievement, which helped design the small communities and is partly funded by the Bill Gates Foundation.
The district will also implement eight-week assessments of the students' academic performance.
"Students will be tested to see if they are mastering the skills in the curriculum in its proper sequence," said Sanger. "We did it this year in our math curriculum and test scores improved. Now we're extending it to Language Arts assessments."
In West New York, the district has just instituted a program that helps students with the transition from pre-k and kindergarten to the 1st grade.
"[It] was just completed in the Early Childhood Program," said Yankovich. "It's a two- to three-week program for kids before they enter the first grade, and it was handled by one of our district supervisors, Giselle Ferrar."