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Message from incoming superintendent Klaus

OFFICIAL from Haddonfield School District on May 29, 2020

We all have heard that “as one door opens, another closes.” This is something I am particularly aware of as we begin to close the 2019-20 school year. As I open the door to my new position as Superintendent of the Haddonfield School District on July 1, and as I close the door on my two-year service as Assistant Superintendent, I am proud to say we are also closing the door on our New Jersey Quality Single Accountability Continuum (NJQSAC) review.

As you are probably aware, NJQSAC is the New Jersey Department of Education’s monitoring and self-evaluation system designed to ensure that students are provided a high-quality education and safe learning environments while the district is fiscally responsible to the community. Many view NJQSAC as a “cross your i’s and dot your t’s” process; that is simply not true. The NJQSAC process requires districts to be evaluated in five areas: Program and Instruction, Governance, Finance, Operations, and Personnel. Generally, review occurs on a three-year cycle; however, Haddonfield had experienced a nearly 10-year exemption based on student performance scores. In the fall of 2018, Haddonfield School District (HSD) was found to be subpar in four of the five regulated areas, only passing Governance based on an appeal.

There were many questions as to how such a high achieving and successful school system could perform so poorly. In short, our five schools were siloed. Each school performed well based on focused students, dedicated staff, and supportive families. What was lacking were the systems in place to guarantee that the level of services provided to our students would continue and grow. The challenge, starting in the summer of 2019, was to put in place the systemic changes necessary. This would require the cooperation and efforts of all HSD staff members.

I am proud to say that, over the last 18 to 20 months, HSD staff members rose to the challenge. Central Administrative Office procedures were honed and corrected. Building-level administration and office staff developed systems that centralized data, curriculum, training, and record-monitoring. Teachers across the district revisited, rewrote, and published a rich and rigorous curriculum. All of this resulted in revised NJQSAC results with HSD passing in every area. This did not come easily. The focus and efforts of everyone in the organization was necessary for HSD to grow, improve, and impose systemic changes that will guarantee continued growth for the district. At the conclusion of this two-year process, I am happy to say HSD is ready for new challenges in the future.

An additional note. As we look to close the door on one school year and open the door on another, building principals have been working to create safe and efficient processes for the closure of school. Each principal has been developing plans to collect school-owned materials and return student materials left in school buildings, provide transitional support for grades five and eight, and to organize ceremonies to honor promotion from fifth grade and eighth grade as well as high school graduation.

Also it should be noted that, while we are still four months away from the opening of the new school year, we have already started to discuss ways in which we can support our students academically, emotionally, and socially as they return to school in the fall, whether that return is “in-person,” virtual, or a blended format.

The finish line for 2019-20 is in sight. We have three weeks of remote education left, and I am confident our staff, students and families will wrap up the year with as much energy, creativity and perseverance as they have demonstrated since March 17. I am proud to step into my new role and to work with all of you.