In Camden, the 2016-17 school year will continue to build on the positive momentum of a number of ambitious initiatives launched last year to improve students’ access to high-quality neighborhood public schools. The District is making strong progress on its goal to have 85 percent of City students enrolled in a strong school by the 2019-2020 school year. Last year just 14 percent of students attended such schools. This year 37 percent of students are enrolled in these public schools.

To continue progressing toward this goal, we are focusing efforts on five main areas of school improvement. First, we aim to disrupt the school-to-prison pipeline by creating more nurturing and safe environments in our schools. We will achieve this by continuing to support teachers and administrators in implementing a less-punitive Student Code of Conduct, and expanding successful Positive Behavior Incentive programs in our elementary and family schools.

Next, the District will this year continue its efforts to provide more students with 21st century learning facilities. Working with the School Development Authority, the District will secure funding to re-build Camden High School, and continue advocating for necessary structural repairs elsewhere. In addition, the District will continue to improve the technological support available to teachers.

We will continue to improve teaching and learning in every Camden classroom through the introduction of school literacy goals, and a new Reading Interventionist position in every elementary and family school, a role focused solely on ensuring every child is reading on grade level by 3rd grade. The District will work to improve the quality of instruction in every Camden classroom this year by giving school leaders more operational support, allowing them to focus 100 percent of their time on teacher coaching and ensuring instructional excellence.

Through newly hired Family and Operations Coordinators, the District will continue to build its parents’ capacity, and will support them in accessing the resources they need to raise healthy, happy, and well-educated children. The District will build upon the early success of an attendance pilot that decreased chronic absenteeism from 38 to 31 percent last year by addressing each family’s individual needs and offering holistic support services.

Finally, the District will continue to cut excess spending in its administration function and procurement, in order to put every dollar possible into our classrooms.