Back to school

Expanded programs, new e-readers, block scheduling

School officially begins Wednesday, Sept. 7 in Secaucus, marking an end to the summer season and the beginning of an academic year that will bring expanded programs, new technology, solar panels, and a new schedule for high school students.


“[We are] looking forward to the new school year and welcoming back parents, kids, and teachers,” said Robert Presuto, director of educational technology, data assessment, and grants.
The Secaucus Middle and High School opens for one session from 7:40 a.m. to 11:45 a.m. from Sept. 7 to 9, while the Clarendon and Huber Street elementary schools open for one session from 8:20 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Sept. 7 to 9.

“We’re going to hit the ground running with the youngsters.” – Robert Presuto
The regular schedule for these schools begins Monday, Sept. 12.
All kindergarten classes from Sept. 7 to 16 are scheduled to take place from 8:20 a.m. to 12 p.m. Full day kindergarten begins Monday, Sept. 19 from 8:20 a.m. to 3 p.m.
The high school will implement a new rotating block schedule. Students rotate through a schedule labeled day one through day six.
“It allows us to be more creative and efficient with scheduling for kids,” said Presuto. “It allows us to have more course offerings…[and] for certain courses to meet for a longer period of time.” With a rotating block schedule, classes that typically fall on holiday Mondays will get equal amounts of time throughout the school year.

Early programs

“We’re going to hit the ground running with the youngsters,” said Presuto.
Pre-kindergarten begins Monday, Sept. 19 and will be held at its new location at the Secaucus Early Learning Center located at 150 Plaza Center. The new location frees up classroom space at Clarendon and Huber Street Elementary schools.
Students will attend one-hour sessions through Sept. 21. Morning classes take place 9:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. and afternoon classes take place 11 a.m. to 12 p.m.
Regular Hours begin Thursday, Sept. 22.
“We expanded the number of pre-k offerings,” said Presuto.
He said the Board of Education has added one more pre-k teacher resulting in an extra program in the morning and one in the afternoon.
“In addition to that, [we are] bringing in a new early reading program,” he said.

Expanded academic programs

The school district has expanded academic program offerings this year. The E-linc accelerated program will be offered to fifth graders in addition to sixth graders. Students who score high on aptitude tests are eligible for the program. The program will be offered at both elementary school buildings instead of just one.
The writing program, Collins, currently offered at grade levels 3 and up, will expand to grades 1 and 2. The district will implement a new assessment tool, “SuccessMaker,” that will take assessments of student performance multiple times throughout the year. Beginning in the fall, the assessments will create a baseline and allow educators to be more proactive when it comes to getting students ready for standardized testing.

Anti-bullying team

In accordance with a new New Jersey state law that goes into effect Sept. 1 called the Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights, Secaucus Board of Education has formed anti-bullying teams within each school that include members of the administration and teachers. Each building has a designated anti-bullying coordinator per state regulation.
The State Education Department will regulate each school district and post grades online. While news reports indicate some school administrators across the state feel the law has gone too far and that schools don’t have enough resources to implement the law, Presuto supports the effort and said the issue of anti-bullying is getting long overdue recognition.

Increased security

The school district has launched a first phase to increase security and has installed security cameras in all the buildings and an electronic swipe card system for doors. The swipe card system is only for staff and faculty who normally had regular keys.
“We’re going to increase what our coverage is,” said Presuto. “The swipe card system will…[provide a] better handle on who is coming in.
He said a computer backend system will keep track of who exits and enters the building each time a card is swiped.

New e-readers

“[There is] a lot of data that suggests [the e-reader] is a very good learning tool,” said Presuto. The school will launch a pilot program that will incorporate the use of electronic readers into the classroom and make e-readers available for use by students for reading. The school has purchased 75 e-reading devices.

Technology and energy upgrades

“We’ve had significant work on our network and data system in the school district,” said Presuto. He said internet speeds have increased and video conferencing audio and visual has improved because all buildings are fiber-optically connected.
Secaucus middle and high schools and Huber Street Elementary school will have solar panels installed by late fall, which helps reduce operating costs.
Adriana Rambay Fernández may be reached at

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