Jul 28, 2014
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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.

Task Force to Begin Considering Future of High School

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.

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