Our year-round staff has been busy preparing for the 2018-19 school year. Numerous maintenance projects are complete, including a modest redesign of the Northfield Middle School drop-off loop. This redesign will allow for some parking closer to the main entrance, including a more convenient location for disabled visitors. New cabinetry at Sibley Elementary, a pump that will help increase water pressure during high utilization times at Northfield Middle School (NMS), tennis court resurfacing at Northfield High School (NHS), repairs to driveways/parking lots, and flooring replacements throughout the District are just a few of the projects our Buildings and Grounds Department is working on this summer.
Technology Services finished a significant projector rewiring project at NMS, replacing 95 projectors throughout the District, managing a change of our Internet Service Provider, installing a new district firewall, and numerous other updates to strengthen our technology systems for teachers and students.
Most classroom doors at NMS and NHS will be retrofitted to allow staff to lock classrooms from the inside rather than entering the hallway. Plans are also being completed to modify Door No. 1 at NHS to create a more controlled entryway similar to the entries at NMS, Sibley, and Longfellow. Part of the NHS “Production Room” across from the main office has been modified to replace office space lost to the construction of the controlled entryway. The controlled entryway will be completed during Winter Break and should be ready for use in January 2019. These two projects are designed to enhance the physical safety of our schools. Northfield Public Schools is preparing a grant application to secure one-time state funding for additional security enhancements. These include additional security cameras, electronic monitoring hardware for exterior doors at NHS, and other miscellaneous items. There will be only 50 grants available in increments of $500,000 each (statewide total of $25 million.) At least half of the grants must go to schools outside the seven-county metropolitan area. These grants will be a competitive process, and we are prepared with a strong submission. While positive relationships with students will always be our best security, these physical plant updates will be helpful in ensuring student and staff safety.
The School Board is continuing to discuss a potential early learning/elementary school focused bond referendum for November. You can watch a robust presentation and discussion as indicated later in the Reports section of the newsletter. The Board will make a final decision at its August 13, 2018 meeting.
Physical updates are the most visible to the public, but the biggest change this school year will be the update to the District’s reading new reading curriculum. Materials were delivered last December, allowing staff the opportunity to pilot some lessons from the new curriculum during in the second half of the 2017-18 school year. Teachers have already had 18 hours of training in using the new materials from the non-profit Center for the Collaborative Classroom. There has been positive feedback about the quality of the literature included in the new curriculum, the teacher-friendly layout, and the overall experience thus far. I am personally excited to provide our world-class teachers with updated materials, for the consistency of instruction across our three elementary schools, and for the proficiency improvements we believe will result.