Archive for April 2012

Radon Test Results

April 25, 2012

As you may know, the Board of Education unanimously agreed to test the Old Turnpike School and the Tewksbury Elementary School for radon during the spring break, April 11-13. This time period is outside the EPA and DEP recommended timeframe of October-March when there is typically cooler weather and the windows are less likely to be open. The decision to test during spring break was based on the fact that there was unusually warm weather this winter along with afterschool activities that could possibly affect testing. The Board of Education also was in agreement to be proactive and test now versus waiting until October.

The areas that were tested included classrooms, libraries, cafeterias, gymnasiums, office areas, storage areas, custodial closets, mechanical rooms, and kitchens. Measures were taken so that these areas were maintained in a closed condition. The HVAC system continued to function as if it was a normal school day. Throughout the testing period these areas were inspected regularly for open windows and doors.

The results of the radon testing were made available to our school district on April 20, 2012 by RAdata, Inc. These results are to be reviewed at the Board of Education meeting on April 25, 2012, 7:30 p.m. at the OTS library and at the Board of Education Facilities Committee Meeting scheduled for May 16, 2012, 5:30 p.m. at the OTS library.  A summary of the results will be sent to the parents and the entire report will also be available to the public at each of the district’s two schools.

Radon concentration is measured in “picocuries per liter (pCi/L). Radon concentrations approaching 100 pCi/L require the possibility of relocating students and staff. Radon levels greater than 4 pCi/L require a remediation process.

Two areas registered radon readings above 4pCi/L. Specifically, these areas are the Girl’s Coach’s office at OTS ( 5.2 pCi/L) and a mechanical closet at TES (12.1 pCi/L).

The school district plans to initiate the investigation and installation of a remediation process in the above two areas immediately. In addition, the school district will voluntarily retest a few additional areas. Specifically at OTS, a custodial closet (3.8 pCi/L), gym storage area (3.7 pCi/L), and a supplemental classroom (3.9 pCi/L) will be retested. All of these areas are below the 4.0 pCi/L  level, but will be proactively retested and monitored since they are close to the 4.0 pCi/L level.

At TES, the information technology room and five supplemental instructional areas will be scheduled for testing due to lack of access.

In summary, the Tewksbury Township School District continues to be proactive in addressing potential safety concerns and the recent voluntary radon testing provides additional evidence to this point. Please feel free to contact my office, if you have additional questions in reference to the recent testing, monitoring, and remediation process.

Jim Gamble

NJ School Choice Program

April 22, 2012

I have recommended to the Board that the Tewksbury Township School District submit an application to the state to become a “Choice School.” This recommendation will be discussed at the Board of Education meeting that is scheduled for Wednesday, April 25 at 7:00 p.m. in the OTS library.

The “School Choice” program is designed to increase educational opportunities for students and their families. This is accomplished by providing students with the option of attending a public school outside their district of residence. There is no cost to the parents provided the student’s residence is within a 20 mile radius of the receiving school.

As you know, our school district is experiencing a decline in enrollment and recently a decline in the local tax levy. These factors present challenges to our ongoing efforts to provide a variety of quality educational offerings to our students. The Tewksbury Township School District is noted as being a “high performing” school district, as indicated by the state monitoring guidelines, and we boast having a National Blue Ribbon School of Excellence.

By becoming a “Choice School District” we will be able to determine the number of students that we will accept from the neighboring school districts. The advantages to Tewksbury are found in increased revenues, the maintenance of appropriate class sizes, an increase in the diversity of our student population, and the ability to maintain all of our current and future program offerings.

The Board will discuss the application in detail on April 25. I invite you to attend the meeting and engage in the conversation.

Jim Gamble

Testing for Radon Levels

April 15, 2012

As you know, the school district has taken multiple proactive steps to address the water issue at OTS. The most recent intervention has been the installation of an orthophosphate feed system on January 26, 2012. The new intervention will take a few months to produce the desired results and testing will take place again in late June or early July to determine the effectiveness of the intervention. Additional information can be found by clicking the “Water Update” link on the home page of the district’s web site.

In addition to the water interventions, the school district has voluntarily decided to test both school buildings for radon levels. At the March 28 Board of Education meeting, the Board unanimously agreed to test for radon during the Spring Break, April 11-13. This is outside the EPA and DEP recommended timeframe of October-March when there is typically cooler weather and the windows are less likely to be open. The decision to test during spring break was based on the fact that there was unusually warm weather this winter along with afterschool activities that could possibly affect testing.  The Board of Education also was in agreement to be proactive and test now versus waiting until October.

Areas that were tested included classrooms, libraries, cafeterias, gymnasiums, office areas, and kitchens. Measures were taken so that these areas were maintained in a closed condition. The HVAC system continued to function as if it was a normal school day.  Throughout the testing period these areas were inspected regularly for open windows and doors.

It is anticipated that test results will be available within a month. We will certainly share these results as soon as they become available. In addition, it should also be noted that during the mid 1990’s, a radon remediation exhaust system was installed at OTS that is continuously operational.

Feel free to contact me, if you have any additional questions. I look forward to continuing the open lines of communication via letters, this blog, and the information provided on the home page of our web site.

Please know that the Board and the administration appreciate your continued support with these issues along with the multiple efforts that are ongoing to further enhance the educational program for our children.

General information on radon and radon in schools is available at the DEP and EPA’s websites.

Jim Gamble

Teacher Quality Institute

April 3, 2012

As you know, our focus this year has been on the further enhancement of teacher quality. We have an excellent district faculty and it is important to provide ongoing and job embedded professional development for our teachers. Multiple workshop sessions have been presented this year in the areas of technology integration, brain-based instructional strategies, formative assessment, multiple sensory reading strategies, visualization and verbalization, FastForWord, etc.

It is our desire to continue with professional development following the last full day of school. Plans are underway for a week long Teacher Quality Institute (June 18-22). The Board of Education has recently approved a budget for the 2012/13 school year that allows for additional professional development.

During the week long institute, there will be multiple course offerings for the teachers. Specifically, there will be sessions on Brain-Based Teaching Strategies, Authentic Performance Tasks, Smart Board strategies, Web 2.0 Applications, Study Island, FastForWord, On Cloud Nine Math, Reciprocal Teaching, Reading in the Content Areas, and Multiple Sensory Reading Strategies.

Teachers from neighboring school districts will also be invited to attend on a tuition basis. The Teacher Quality Institute is another example of how the Tewksbury Township School District is taking a leadership role in the critical area of teaching and learning. The Institute along with the early intervention initiatives that are already being implemented serve as positive indicators of the progress that out school district is making in the area of  curriculum and instruction. More information will follow in reference to the Institute and additional initiatives that are on the horizon.

Jim Gamble