When North Bergen students return on Sept. 2, they will be greeted with new programs and faculty. According to North Bergen Superintendent Robert Dandorph, there are 35 new teachers this year.
Dandorph also said that the district, like many others throughout the country, was unhappy with SAT scores this year, so they are putting $70,000 into a new program that will help bolster the skills of math and language arts teachers and incorporate the test into the everyday classroom.
The district also received $2 million in federal stimulus money for basic skills improvement and $1.9 million for special education programs, said Dandorph.
In Guttenberg, students at the sole elementary school there, the Anna L. Klein School, start classes on Sept. 10. High school students living in Guttenberg attend North Bergen High School.
Guttenberg kids will be greeted with more technology. Superintendent of Schools Dr. Joseph Ramos said that the Klein school now has a technology director, Phillip Sullivan, and a library media specialist, Catherine Fahey.
In North Bergen, Dandorph said that the district nurses and doctors, along with the attendance officers, are well informed about the H1N1 virus, or swine flu, as was the North Bergen Health Officer Richard Censullo.
“We didn’t have any reported cases [last year],” he said. “Believe me, it was pure luck.”
He said that North Bergen will be in touch with parents throughout the school year about any developments in inoculations and cases.
Classes for autistic students
North Bergen will begin two pre-kindergarten classes for autistic students this fall, rather than shipping them out of the district, which usually forces the district to pay $60,000 to $90,000 per student for their education.
According to Director of Special Services Robert Kornberg, a program called Aces is being funded by stimulus money this year.
The two eight-student classes will be full-day. Physical, occupational and speech therapies will be brought into the classroom.
An autism consultant will oversee the program, another teacher will assist, and each student will have a teacher’s aides.
The program is estimated to cost the district $35,000 to $45,000 per student per year. They plan to expand it beyond kindergarten in the future.
Students in the ninth through 12th grades in North Bergen who are moderately to severely cognitively impaired will have the Pathways Program, a full-academic program that has an employment focus. It follows the state’s core curriculum standards.
North Bergen will begin teaching autistic students, rather than send them out of district.
“This program will give both students and teachers more of an opportunity to get support for students that are involved in the program, academically and socially,” said Kornberg.
Kornberg explained that a new course will also be taught for college bound special need students.
According to Dandorph, North Bergen was one of 16 districts to receive funds by the N.J. State Department of Education for “personalized student learning plans.” With $15,000 worth of funds, a program will be set up at North Bergen High school and for sixth grade and up at Horace Mann School.
Also, four math and language arts students will be trained by a “group of Harvard [University] guys” for a new SAT course.
Lastly, a pilot program being conducted by Rutgers University will begin at Franklin (first through fourth grades) and John F. Kennedy School (fifth through eighth grades) that has cost around $20,000. Students who were once “pulled out” of class for extra help on subjects will now receive that help from an additional teacher brought into the room, said Dandorph.
News at Guttenberg
In Guttenberg, the pre-kindergarten half-day class has been expanded to 60 students with the help of an additional teacher. Ramos said that he would like to expand it into a full-day class next year.
The Klein School will also have the Literacy is Essential to Adolescent Development and Success (LEADS) program this year in the fourth through eighth grades. The program is “project based” learning, which will integrate language arts, social studies, and technology, said Ramos.
IPods will be used to help English language learners bolster their listening and speaking skills.
Everyday Math is a new curriculum for students in kindergarten through second grade.
Ramos said that along with new programs, the district received a $3.6 million grant from the state for the proposed school addition/Guttenberg community center.
Tricia Tirella may be reached at TriciaT@hudsonreporter.com.