State of the Hopatcong School District – Superintendent Public Meeting - February 6, 2020

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Hopatcong School District Superintendent, Mr. Arthur DiBenedetto and Assistant Superintendent, Mr. Joseph S. Piccirillo took the stage on Thursday night to cover all of the positive changes that have been already implemented or are in the works since the last State of the District Meeting in August of 2019.

2020 HSD 02 05 2020 Movie CoverThe following article provides the highlights of the meeting, please watch the attached video for the full details on each of these items.

Importance of Parental and Citizen Input:

  • The district highly values the Advisory Groups and the input received that has helped create the initiatives currently underway
  • Bi-Directional Communications – New Phone App! Available now for the Android, with the iPhone version coming out by the end of the month
    • It provides the ability to see everything about your child (Grades, Schedule, Test Scores, Lunch Menu, etc.). Even has the ability to contact a teacher by phone or email
  • The district is working on Parental Relief for College Costs
    • 70% of HHS graduates go on to a 2 – 4-year college, therefore the district is working hard to add college courses that students can take at a significantly reduced cost ($100 vs. $1,000)
    • Current Partnerships include Sussex County Community College and Seton Hall University. Additionally, the credits taken can be transferred to any other school
    • The district will continue to evolve the program to other Colleges and Universities
  • The district is working on Partnerships from local businesses that fit into the courses offered such as, construction or cosmetology
  • There will be a business class next year where the students will learn how to open and run a business

Facilities (Capital Improvements):

Funding for many of the following projects came from the sale of the Cell Tower easement that supplies $1 million this year and another one next year that can only be used for Capital Projects.

  • The leaking High School Auditorium roof will be repaired in the Spring or early summer
  • A new fitness center is being developed as part of the Auxiliary Gym, and will be used by Students / Team Training and may be open to the public for limited hours
  • Work has started on the new High School Research and Development Center
  • Improvements to the Science rooms and Culinary area at the High School
  • Redesign of the Library
  • Working on Air Conditioning for the Middle School

Changes to School Curriculum:

  • The Board of Education will be asked to improve a 5-year plan that focuses on English Language Arts, Career and Technical Education programs (Construction, Child Care, Cosmetology, Athletic Training, and Broadcast Journalism)
  • CTE programs are three-year courses that are growing fields, highly specialized and provide a livable wage
  • The curriculum is based upon the three paths that students take:
    • 30% that go into the workforce
    • 38% that go into a two-year college
    • 32% that go into a four-year college
  • All curriculum changes are and will be based upon direct discussion and input from the teachers

Social-Emotional Education / Strategies:

  • Present society is struggling with social and emotional challenges that the district is addressing through SEL programs, Wellness classes, Clubs and other areas of Social and Emotional learning programs, where the kids feel safe.

Cultural Enhancement:

  • The Hopatcong School District is undergoing a change with increased attendance in English as a Second Language, there are about 35 kids currently in the program. The district is also starting a culture club to allow the kids to learn about other cultures.

The Future:

  • The future is interesting for the Hopatcong School district as attendance is now leveling off, and as the district continues to improve, fewer students will be lost to Choice schools
  • In speaking of finances, the sale of the Cell Tower Easement helps, and the district is expecting two bids on Hudson Maxim School property, which can be used for capital
  • While school taxes have not increased in the last five years, and there are no increases this year, the loss of 90% state funding make it difficult in the future

Questions and Answers:

  • Questions from those in attendance were answered by both Hopatcong School District Superintendent, Mr. Arthur DiBenedetto and Assistant Superintendent, Mr. Joseph S. Piccirillo and appear at the end of the attached video.

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