From the Superintendent: Please allow me to take this opportunity—on behalf of the board and all of our staff—to thank the community for supporting the 2011-12 budget. We understand the economic pain our community is experiencing, and we continue to work very hard to make every dollar pay dividends for our students. What impact are we getting from the investment we are making in education? I believe this is a legitimate question to ask and a national study gives us data that provide a response: Education Week recently reported on a study conducted by the Center for American Progress that examined the educational productivity of more than 9000 K-12 school districts nationwide—including ours. The “Return on Investment” (ROI) measures used in the study were designed to rate school districts on how much academic achievement they get for each dollar spent relative to other districts in that state. Researchers placed districts in each state into three equal tiers based on their position on the achievement index, with the highest achievers in the top tier and the lowest achievers in the bottom tier. They also divided the districts into three equal tiers based on their adjusted expenditures, with the highest adjusted spenders in the top tier and the lowest adjusted spenders in the bottom tier. Then an evaluation matrix was used to assign shades of colors to each district based on their achievement tier relative to their spending tier, with green being the most productive—at the top of the spectrum—and red being the least productive. Districts with high achievement and high spending by definition fared less well, as did districts with low achievement and low spending. School districts with low student achievement could not get a color rating higher than orange—or just below average—on either the basic or the adjusted ROI indexes. Jefferson Township earned a light green rating in both indexes—indicating our community is getting a strong return on their investment in education. This return on investment can be seen each day in our district’s classroom. Permit me to highlight some of the activities to promote student learning that have recently taken place in our schools: On March 2 Read Across America was celebrated in all of our elementary schools. This program is designed to encourage reading and recognize the birthday of Dr. Seuss. In some schools, guest readers visited classes to share their favorite Dr. Seuss book. I, for example, had the opportunity to read and discuss Horton Hatches the Egg with second graders at Briggs. It was a delight! In other schools, students read during DEAR (Drop Everything and Read) time during the school day. In addition, families were encouraged to participate in “Family Reading Night” in some elementary schools. Congratulation to Aakaash Gosain a 5th grade student who represented the Stanlick School and Jefferson Township in the New Jersey Jr. Women’s Club State Spelling Bee competition held in New Brunswick. Aakaash placed 3rd in the state. Students at the Stanlick and White Rock schools participated in mock trials. The Big Bad Wolf was the defendant. Prosecution and defense attorneys questioned witnesses while the juries listened to all the evidence. This valuable learning opportunity helped student develop a number of skills including team collaboration, public speaking, critical thinking, listening, reasoning, organization, and persuasive argument. In addition, I would like to thank the members of the community who volunteered to serve as judges for the various trials. The DECA state competition was held recently and the following high school students received awards and qualified to compete at the National level: Geoffrey Ochs - 1st Place Written Matt Barone - 1st Place Role Play Chris Ondish - 1st Place Role Play Amanda VanNess - NJ State Community Service Project Nina DePalma - NJ State Community Service Project Colleen Scanlon – Business Letter Rachel Frank - 1st Place Program Design (Rachel's work was the cover of the program) Congratulations students; I wish you much success in the National competition.