Dear Parents and Guardians,
I hope that you and your students have enjoyed all that summer break provides and are as energized as we are to welcome students into our schools tomorrow.
This year we are highlighting one line in our strategic language:
We will always focus on what is best for our students.
While this is consistently our underlying focus, we are highlighting this one sentence from our strategic plan to guide our work this year as we explore four central topics: Homework, Academic Integrity, School Start Times, and Safety.
You will receive separate, more specific communications on each of these; however, what follows is important information so that we all begin the year on the same page. Also, I will go into greater depth on each topic at our annual State of the District Address, held on Monday, September 9, at 6:30 pm in the auditorium of Bridgewater-Raritan Middle School.
While B-R is proud of the academic achievements of our students, which consistently rank among the highest in our state each year, every child and every home experiences our program differently. Therefore, the goal is to better connect the school and the home to ensure the healthiest environment for our students.
Our work during the 2018-2019 school year has produced a number of changes to the district’s approach to homework as it impacts the health of our students, including:
● Homework-free breaks
● Recommended maximum time allotments so that students and their families can better assess the impact that homework is having on the environment.
● Assessment guidelines to help students balance their preparation.
The goal of these changes is to increase our awareness of the health and wellness of our students and to improve communication between the school and the home when there are concerns. This year is a pilot year as we evaluate the impact of these changes throughout in order to reassess our approach moving into the spring. It is imperative that we hear from our students and from you.
Our policy and regulation are both available on the Parent and Student pages of our new website:
We have received overwhelming feedback from students, their parents, and staff that academic integrity issues continue to plague our district. In order to address these issues, we will be changing both our proactive and reactive approaches and we need your help to ensure students make good decisions. Proactively, we are working to ensure that students and their families understand academic integrity, including the resources available to support our students and the consequences imposed when poor choices are made. Please make certain that you and your students are aware of the consequences of academic integrity violations because, reactively, we will be following the steps in our policy more consistently and more swiftly in response to issues of this type.
School Start Times
Following up on our June surveys, we will explore current research on the connection of school start times to the health and wellness of the district’s stakeholders, our options regarding start times, and the potential benefits and challenges of any possible changes. No decisions have been made in this area and we hope to hear all voices as we explore together ways we may be able to help our students.
As part of our strategic work these past two years, the district conducted a complete assessment of our facilities, procedures, staffing, curriculum, and resources. We have created a comprehensive safety plan addressing more than a dozen aspects of the district. Many changes have already been made and we are continuing this work with both action and conversation across the district in 2019-2020.
Again, more specific information will be sent directly to you over the coming weeks. The information will also be available on our website and we hope that you can join us on Monday, September 9.
In a district our size, as we have any conversation together there will be differences of opinion. That said, we must always approach each other understanding that, regardless of our differences of opinion, we are all engaged in the conversation because we are focused, in our own way and from our individual perspective, on what is best for our students. We hope to hear your voice and the voices of our students as we explore these areas.
As we say: Together is always better.
Thank you for your continued trust and collaboration.
All the best,