Montclair Public School District 101 for Parents, Caregivers, and Families
Initial Publication Date: 02/24/21
During the time that the pandemic has made in-person meeting, communication and information-sharing more difficult, PTAC has received many inquiries from parents/caregivers seeking to better understand and navigate the Montclair Public School District. In response, PTAC has developed this guide to consolidate some of the most critical information about the district in one place and in an easy-to-read format. The information generally exists elsewhere online, and we frequently provide links to the primary and/or additional sources. Please note that information about a specific school is best obtained from that school’s individual webpage or from the PTA for that particular school.
We hope this page will be a helpful resource for you — whether you are new to the district, want to clarify something you’ve heard, simply want to learn more about a topic, or seek highly specific information that can be challenging to find. If you find it valuable, please help us make it better, and pass the link on to others!
Feedback? If you have feedback on this webpage or its content, notice something missing, or have other comments or questions, please email us at email@example.com. We’d love to hear from you.
MAGNET SCHOOL SYSTEM — History & Meaning
The magnet system was implemented in 1977 to create alternatives within the public school system and includes all seven elementary schools and three middle schools and one comprehensive high school. All elementary and middle schools deliver the same basic curriculum (based on NJ Common Core standards). However, each school is aligned with a magnet "theme" that gives additional color and emphasis to the curriculum at that particular school.
Under this system, Montclair children do not necessarily attend the school closest to their homes. There are no "neighborhood" schools. At key points (Kindergarten, 5th grade, and/or upon entering the district), parents/caregivers have the opportunity to select and rank the school(s) that best match their child's interests and an algorithm matches and assigns students to a school based on availability, the goal of maintaining a balance of children from various economic zones, and certain priority factors such as sibling placement and/or the need for special education services or English language support. The magnet schools provide wide flexibility of educational choice and ensure that the entire township is the "neighborhood."
Information about each school is provided on the district website and a historical perspective on this magnet system is shared in the video Our Schools, Our Town.
WHO'S WHO — Names and descriptions of key stakeholders in and around Montclair’s schools
The Board of Education (BOE/Board) has a dual role: To represent the concerns of the citizens, taxpayers, and parents to the school administrators, and to represent the needs of the students and the school district to the citizens, taxpayers, and parents of the community. The Board of Education does not directly manage the school district or its employees; rather, it sets policy and goals and seeks to achieve them through the Superintendent of Schools, the only employee the Board directs or evaluates.
Transition to an Elected Board
Previously, Montclair was a Type I district wherein BOE members were appointed by the Mayor. In November 2021, Montclair changed to a Type II district in which BOE members are selected by voters during November elections. New members will assume their positions in January of the following year. Along with the change to a Type II district, the number of BOE members was increased to nine (from seven). During the transition to an elected board, the terms of existing members were adjusted to permit a smooth transition to an elected board of nine members, with three members elected each year to three-year terms. In December 2021, a sitting member of the BOE passed away, requiring the existing BOE to replace that position with a member whose term will expire in January 2023. An individual was selected to join the Board, bringing the number of BOE members to seven. More detailed information about the transition, the new election process, and the expiration dates of various terms can be found here. https://p19cdn4static.sharpschool.com/UserFiles/Servers/Server_889476/File/District/Board%20of%20Education/Board%20Reports/21-22/Transition%20to%20Type%20II%20with%20November%20Election.pdf
Board members are volunteers and are not compensated for their service. They attend mandated, regular training about board functioning and responsibilities.
After newly appointed Board members are sworn in at the annual “Reorganization Meeting” in January, the Board chooses a President and Vice-President for the coming year and assigns Board members to committees (e.g., Finance and Facilities, Curriculum and Special Education, Communications, Policy, Negotiations). The Superintendent is a member of each committee.
The Board of Education holds regular meetings twice per month. The meeting agendas, resolutions and relevant documents can be found at montclair.k12.nj.us. The Board holds committee meetings and also meets in (confidential) executive session prior to the public portion of board meetings. The public is invited to attend meetings and make public comments on both agenda and non-agenda items. The Board takes action as a body by majority vote.
The Board of Education (BOE) does not operate the district on a day-to-day basis; that is the job of the superintendent, who is the district’s chief executive, with his or her support team in the Central Office and with the school principals and administrators. Rather, the BOE sets the policies, goals and objectives for the district — and it holds the superintendent responsible for implementing the policies and achieving the goals.
Given the respective roles and responsibilities of the Board of Education and the District Administration, it is generally recommended that parents/guardians work up the "chain of command" when they have a problem or concern with what's happening at their child's school. For instance, if a parent has a problem with a teacher, the parent should first address it with the teacher and, if the issue is not resolved, the parent should turn to the principal or supervisor, and then the superintendent. The school board should be the “court of last resort.” Most matters which do not have policy implications will generally be decided at the building level in collaboration with the superintendent's central office staff.
Under the New Jersey Open Public Meetings Law, the BOE can only act as a body through votes taken at a public meeting, and may only convene as a Board at a public meeting, outside of specific topics like "personnel matters," "labor negotiations" or "security matters" that are enumerated under the law that the BOE may discuss in executive or "closed" session. Committees of the BOE (always consisting of no more than three members) may convene to receive and discuss information from District Administration, but those committees cannot act on behalf of the Board.
PTA (Parent Teacher Association) is a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit association that prides itself on being a powerful voice for all children, a relevant resource for families and communities, and a strong advocate for public education. Membership in PTA is open to anyone who supports the PTA mission and wants to be involved and make a difference for the education, health, and welfare of children and youth. Our PTAs are affiliated with the state and National Parent Teacher Association, whose mission it is to make every child’s potential a reality. Every Montclair School has a PTA with the exception of The Montclair High School (MHS). An Exploratory Committee comprised of stakeholders from across the district has started to form a PTA/PTSA (PTSA would include students) at MHS. If you are interested in learning more or joining please contact firstname.lastname@example.org. To join the PTA, visit your school’s PTA webpage which you can find in the drop down menu at the top of the PTAC website.
The Montclair Education Association (MEA) is the largest of the three labor unions that represent employees in the Montclair Public School District. The other two unions are the Montclair Principals Association (MPA) and the Montclair Head Custodians Association (MHCA). The MEA, which is the local chapter of the New Jersey Education Association (NJEA) and National Education Association (NEA), represents approximately 90 percent of the district's employees, including teachers, counselors, child study team members, nurses, secretaries, custodians, information technology staff, security guards and paraprofessionals.
With support from the NJEA, the MEA represents its members' interests on myriad issues, including the negotiation of the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) with the School District, which is represented by the Board of Education's Negotiations Committee with support from outside Board counsel and the Superintendent. The CBA is typically re-negotiated and re-executed every three years, and establishes the salary guides as well as rules and expectations around employee work schedules, responsibilities and job conditions, disciplinary and grievance procedures, employee benefits, etc. Between negotiation cycles, the MEA also represents its members with respect to any disputes relating to the implementation of the CBA, including but not limited to any potential changes in job responsibilities or conditions, as well as any teacher disciplinary proceedings or grievances. The district administration is responsible for ensuring that the day-to-day operation of the district is in conformance with the terms of the CBA.
The Montclair PTAC (Montclair Council of PTAs) supports district school PTAs in their work of advocating for the success and wellbeing of their students. The PTAC functions as a representative body of the PTAs so the voices of parents and caregivers are more effective in influencing decisions made at the individual school and district level. PTAC empowers local PTAs by sharing advice, guidance, best practices, tools, training and networking opportunities and facilitates district-wide information-sharing. PTAC works with PTAs to bring policy issues and concerns to the attention of the Board of Education (BOE) and Superintendent. The Montclair PTAC is committed to supporting consistent, effective and multi-directional communications between parents/guardians, PTAs, schools and the Board of Education (BoE)/Superintendent.
PTAC members consist of the executive board (president, 2 VP’s, secretary and treasurer), the executive boards of the schools’ PTAs and committee members. PTAC is also an affiliate of the state and National PTA with by-laws created for its council status. Members meet on a monthly basis.
There are several PTAC committees that dive deeper into important issues facing the district including community relations, school budget and finance, leadership training, health and wellness, technology, equity, anti-racism and opportunity gap, special education, and communication. PTAC committee participation is open to all parents and caregivers in the district. PTAC is committed to increasing PTA membership in under-represented groups. A diverse PTA membership helps bring different perspectives to the forefront and can influence policy and make positive changes. For more information, visit the PTAC website.
The Montclair Special Education Parent Advisory Council (SEPAC) is a group of parents/caregivers, professionals, students and concerned community members working to improve the educational process and experience for Montclair students in need of accommodations, special education, and related services through advocacy, education, resources and support. Join the confidential email list at MontclairSEPAC@gmail.com.
Montclair Fund for Educational Excellence (MFEE), Montclair’s local education fund, is an independent non-profit that raises private dollars to engage and empower students, teachers and supporters of public education. MFEE drives innovation and collaborates with the Montclair community to create equitable access to high quality education for all students. MFEE supports the Montclair Public Schools through grantmaking, community connecting, and district-wide initiatives. Learn how to get involved here.
"Founded in 1909, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) is the nation’s oldest civil rights organization. The mission of the (NAACP) is to secure the political, educational, social, and economic equality of rights in order to eliminate race-based discrimination and ensure the health and well-being of all persons." The Montclair chapter of the NAACP includes an active Education Committee that advocates for Black and low-income students in the town and partners with the district and other community groups to ensure equitable inputs and improve educational opportunities and outcomes.
HOW DECISIONS ARE MADE — High-level descriptions of who makes certain decisions that affect schools in Montclair
The Board of Education typically meets twice per month at 7:00pm in the cafeteria of the George Inness Annex of Montclair High School and the calendar of BOE meetings is posted on the district's website. BOE meetings may be "business meetings" at which the BOE takes official action through public votes, or "workshop meetings" at which the BOE receives information and discusses issues but takes no action. Any time a quorum of the Board (at least four out of the seven members) convenes, the meeting must be a public meeting in accordance with New Jersey's Open Public Meetings Act (OPMA).
OPMA requires that the public BOE meetings be advertised in advance with a posted agenda and open to the public, and an opportunity must be provided for public comments. Certain enumerated topics (e.g., personnel matters, individual student matters, security matters) may be discussed by the BOE in executive or "closed" sessions.
The BOE typically opens in public at 7:00pm and then moves immediately into closed session to discuss confidential matters until 7:30pm, after which they reopen in public to conduct the remainder of their meeting. The scheduled time for closed sessions is generally indicated in the meeting advertisement and in the posted agenda.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, the BOE has conducted its meetings virtually via WebEx with a link on the district website, which allows members of the public to observe the meeting and to sign up and to offer public comment. Please note that you will not be able to see who else is attending the virtual meetings because of privacy concerns, although speakers will be identified.
Both prior to and during the pandemic, BOE meetings have also been broadcast on Fios Channel 33 and livecast on the district's website. Video recordings of each meeting are also posted to the district's website a few days to one week after each meeting.
The Board must generally post its meeting agenda to the district's website at least 48 hours prior to the start of each public meeting, and those agendas will generally include copies of all resolutions expected to be voted upon at the meeting, including all non-confidential attachments. For example, you will typically find the Business Administrator/Board Secretary's monthly business reports, any policies up for revision or review, and any contracts to be awarded.
The Board also posts meeting minutes to the district's website after they've been approved at a subsequent meeting, which will indicate which resolutions were approved and the vote tally.
When Board meetings are held in person (in the George Inness Annex at MHS), anyone who is interested in speaking during public comment must sign in prior to the start of the public comment portion of the meeting at 7:30 pm. Once public comment has started, there will be no further opportunity to raise your hand to speak at the meeting. Public comment on agenda items will be heard before public comment on non-agenda items.
Upon the start of public comment, the Board will recognize speakers in the order they signed in, except that students who wish to speak will be given priority. Each speaker is allotted exactly 3 minutes of speaking time.
To speak during the Public Comment portion:
- Click on the three vertical dots located under your initials at the bottom of the screen
- Click on the Raise Hand option located at the top of the menu. See screenshots here for support.
Board members will see the Raise Hand requests listed in the order that they were received. During Public Comments they will use that order to unmute each request one at a time and then mute the speaker once they have finished speaking or when the allotted time (3 minutes) has expired. At the conclusion of the meeting, all participants will be exited from the meeting and the previous meeting link will no longer work.
The lion's share of the funding for the operation of our public schools (nearly $121 million, or 91% of the operating budget revenues in SY 2020-2021) comes from local property taxes levied on residential and commercial property owners in Montclair, with "basic" state education aid comprising approximately 6% of the operating budget revenues (nearly $8 million) in SY 2020-2021. The remaining 3% of the SY 2020-2021 operating budget includes "extraordinary" state aid for students with special needs, Medicaid reimbursements for eligible services, transfers from reserves or "fund balance", and miscellaneous income such as field and facility rental income. Federal aid such as under the IDEA and the ESA ("Title Funds") sits as "special revenues" outside of the district's basic operating budget as those monies must supplement, not supplant, the local and state funded educational program. In SY 2020-2021, the district received nearly $2.5 million in federal aid.
In Montclair, the BOE is responsible for fixing and determining the amount of money necessary to be appropriated (in local property taxes) for use of the public schools in the ensuing school year. Capital expenses of the district, ranging from boiler replacements, to lighting and HVAC upgrades, to technology infrastructure investments, to major building renovations, are typically funded through bonds/debt issued by the Township. Those expenditures sit outside of the district's operating budget and the debt is carried and repaid by the Township (and ultimately the taxpayers). Visit this site for more information on the State’s school funding formula.
The process by which the school district's annual operating budget and capital budget is developed and approved for the ensuing school year takes most of the year.
The Business Office projects the district's revenues and expenditures for the subsequent year and coordinates budget planning with the Superintendent, Department heads and building Principals. The Business Office also works with contracted consultants to project costs such as employee health benefits, liability insurance, gas and electric, and out-of-district tuitions, and with the district's architect to develop the capital budget priorities and cost estimates. Information is shared with the BOE's Finance and Facilities Committee throughout the year, with the first preliminary budget information provided to the public in or around February.
The Board generally receives multiple updated presentations of the draft budget, at public meetings, from late-February through the third week of March, by which time the Board needs to pass a balanced and itemized budget for submission to the County Superintendent's Office for review and comment. The County Superintendent’s Office then has until the third week of April to approve the district’s budget submission for advertisement. The Board is then required to advertise the budget to the public (in a prescribed format called the "User-Friendly Budget"), and to hold at least one “public hearing” on the budget in late April or early May. Either at or within about a week following that public hearing, the Board must vote to adopt the final budget and then must certify the amount of taxes to be assessed, levied and collected.
The BOE can submit a bond referendum for capital funding to voters for approval at various prescribed dates throughout the year, but the election date chosen then dictates an earlier deadline (approximately six months) by which designs and other required documentation first need to be submitted to the New Jersey Department of Education (DOE) for Review and Approval. To avoid bearing the costs of holding a “special election”, however, the BOE would need to schedule such bond referenda for the November general election, which would then require submissions to the New Jersey Department of Education in May.
If voters approve a capital bond referendum, the BOE, with support from “bond counsel,” would then issue bonds (public debt) to secure the funding to execute on the DOE-approved and voter-approved capital projects. The debt service on those bonds would then need to be included going forward in the district’s operating budget.
Previously (when Montclair was a Type I district), Montclair school budgets were determined by the Board of School Estimate, a separate body chaired by the mayor, two members from the council and two from the BOE. Now that Montclair is a Type II district (elected rather than appointed), budgets will be determined by the BOE; bonding for capital improvements and budgets that exceed a roughly 2% increase over prior years’ taxes will go to the public for a vote. More information about this process and timeline is forthcoming. In the meantime, this is what we know about the 2022 process and timeline:
The 2022 Budget Process and Timeline
February-March Superintendent presents draft budgets to the BOE
By 3/21: BOE adopts and filings budget to Executive County Superintendent (ECS) for review and comment
By 4/21: The ECS approved budget and budget statement for advertisement
4/25-5/9: Public Hearing(s) for Budget
4/27-5/11: Website Posting of User-Friendly Budget (within 48 hours of public hearing)
By 5/14: Adoption of Budget (at or after public hearing)
By 5/19: Certify Taxes assessed, levied and collected
?? (Potentially) Bonding and Referendum
11/8 Election Date (if there are issues for voters)
ACADEMICS & CURRICULUM — Answers to commonly asked questions about what our kids are learning, how they can access certain classes, and what kinds of tests are used in the district
You may request a free screening and evaluation at any time, whether or not your child goes to Montclair Public Schools.
The federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) requires public schools to offer special education or related services to students who have one or more disabilities (as listed within the Act) that adversely affect their ability to learn. After a referral and full evaluation, a student found to have such a disability will be issued an IEP or Individualized Education Plan. The IEP is a legal, written document that details the supports and accommodations that will be provided to the student, as well as the goals and objectives of said support. Examples of supports and accommodations in an IEP may include in-class support from a paraprofessional or learning specialist, placement in a self-contained or resource classroom environment, or receipt of physical/occupational/speech therapies. The IEP is revisited annually and the student is reevaluated every three years, unless greater frequency is required.
Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (a federal anti-discrimination law) protects the rights of individuals with a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more of their major life activities (including learning). In the school setting, this means that a student with a disability may be granted a “504,” affording certain individualized accommodations to support the student’s participation in school-related programs and activities. Examples of accommodations may include receiving additional timing to complete assignments, medical or therapeutic support, or the use of assistive technology. The issuance of a 504 does not fall under special education, but is used in conjunction with a general education curriculum.
MPSD believes that all children, regardless of circumstances, can achieve at high levels and, therefore, provides a curriculum designed to challenge all students by offering high-quality academic opportunities essential to their success. Starting in early grades, teachers may differentiate instruction as needed to meet students where they are. This differentiation means some students may need additional support while others need more challenging material. Advanced classes are available in K-5 grades in many subject areas including Math, Science, and Related Arts for students on the advanced end of the spectrum. Rich curricula in Middle and High School offer many opportunities for high level learning in STEM, World Language and Humanities as well as the Related Arts.
In general, placement for advanced classes in grades 6-12 is determined by teacher recommendation, student achievement and progress, and student interest. As is the case with many educational decisions, a partnership among student, parent, and teacher is ideal. If you believe your student has not been assigned to the appropriate class, please discuss with your student's teacher first. If you are unable to come to an agreement, you may choose to override a teacher's recommendation and have your student placed in a more advanced class. It may be helpful to work with your student and guidance counselor to understand any potential risks associated with this decision.
Math and Science, in particular, are areas of focus for many parents and students so here are some subject-specific references:
- There are many MHS science electives that are geared towards extending students to less traditional fields of study, such as, but not limited to, Forensics, Marine Biology and Astronomy. See the MHS Science Course Progressions here.
- One area parents should be aware of early on in their student’s academic career is the district’s Math progression. Students have multiple options for pathways in math from grades 6-12 including electives and Advanced Placement Courses in Calculus, Probability & Statistics, and Computer Science. In a typical year (changes may occur due to the pandemic), all 5th graders will take a 6th grade Algebra focus standards-aligned assessment in June. Students moving into 6th grade have an opportunity to be placed into an Accelerated Math/Algebra course at ALL three of our middle schools; Glenfield, Buzz Aldrin and Renaissance. Students who do not place into Algebra A Accelerated in 6th grade will take Math 6 and be enrolled in Algebra A or Algebra A Accelerated in 7th grade. Students who do not place into Algebra A Accelerated in 6th grade but are interested in pursuing more advanced classes later may have the option to “double-up” in math classes in 8th or 9th grade. High School students who are advanced in math have the opportunity to take AP Calculus and AP Statistics. The Montclair Public Schools holds a series of District Math Nights to review the K-12 curriculum, instruction and placement practices with families. You can view the presentations here. Contact Jennifer Goforth, Director of STEM at (973) 509-4038 or via email for additional information. email@example.com.
SAIL (Students Accelerated in Learning) is a program designed for gifted and talented learners. As mentioned in the FAQ regarding opportunities related to student interest, learning is differentiated by classroom and subject teachers to meet students where they are. In addition to ongoing classroom-based differentiation, the State of New Jersey requires all local districts to provide an education program for gifted and talented learners. The NJDOE defines gifted students as: "Those students who possess or demonstrate high levels of ability, in one or more content areas, when compared to their chronological peers in the local district and who require modification of their educational program if they are to achieve in accordance with their capabilities." The Montclair Public School District goes on to say that “[gifted and talented learners]...may display unique creativity, productive thinking, and leadership traits or may exhibit exceptional talent in the visual and performing arts. Academically talented students are those who have demonstrated and/or have proclivities to exceptional performance; accelerated comprehension and assimilation of context; exceptional capability for the abstract, creative and divergent thinking in academic or out-of-school activities.”
As of initial publication of this resource, SAIL is only available for English Language Arts (ELA), however, the intention is to expand to include ELA and Math. Students are evaluated on an ongoing basis and may qualify for programming based on multiple measures including end-of-year GPA, universal screeners to determine subject competence, district assessments to evaluate achievement, and teacher evaluation to measure learning and motivation characteristics.
The Montclair Public Schools' SAIL Program was recently evaluated and is in the process of being revamped to “provide a continuum of services for the exceptional learner, designed to address specific needs and levels of giftedness from Kindergarten through grade 12.” Gifted programming options are provided during the regular school schedule. Learn more here.
The Montclair Public Schools Summary of State and District Testing for 2020-2021 provides a high-level overview of standardized assessments and other assessments given to students in our district.
Renaissance Learning (RL) is a tool teachers use (grades 1-8 only) to gather data in order to personalize instruction. It tells them where a student is excelling and where they may need additional support. This is in contrast to less frequent standardized tests that are primarily used to evaluate what a student has learned.
Montclair High School has a Program Planning Guide which lists all courses with brief descriptions. School counselors meet students each year to select the appropriate academic courses for the following school year. Students' current year teachers recommend courses based on current performance in their classes. Counselors review options available for students and ensure the student is working towards completing his/her graduation requirements within four years. With teacher input and counselor assistance, students develop their schedules based on appropriate course rigor, academic and career goals, required courses for graduation, and student interest.
Small learning communities are an extension of “magnets” at Montclair High School. Some of the elements usually found in these SLCs are that they are interdisciplinary, block scheduled, multi-year, and team-taught. Because of the greater amount of time spent in them, SLCs provide students the opportunity to develop a closer relationship with their teachers and fellow students in the community and the small size and approach to the communities makes it possible for student work to be more actively and closely monitored, and more academically focused, than in a traditional, comprehensive high school.
MHS currently offers 3 Small Learning Communities: Center for Social Justice (CSJ), Civics & Government Institute (CGI) and Science, Technology, Engineering & Math (S.T.E.M.). Students in CSJ and CGI take English and History classes like students outside of the SLC but the material is taught through the lens of each SLC. CSJ and CGI cover 3 periods (English, History and Lab), with the lab period used to further engage students in meaningful discussions and activities. The STEM SLC covers 2 periods and also has a project-based learning (PBL) period which includes projects, STEM related activities, guest speakers etc
Entry into small learning communities is open for students entering 10th grade. Students apply via a Statement of Interest Form which is a short application requiring the student to share why they have an interest in the small learning community. Teachers can recommend students for participation but a recommendation is not required. All students who apply are admitted unless there are more students than the SLC can accommodate (generally 80-90 students).
Scheduling occurs each Spring, Feb-April with SLC interest forms due, generally, toward the end of April. Parents and students typically receive information about SLC in the January/February timeframe. To ensure students receive and understand their options, counselors typically join students' Physical Education classes to review courses and options, including those related to small learning communities. Current students in the SLC usually attend these sessions to explain the SLC and share their perspective. During COVID virtual learning, the communication plan will be adjusted as needed.
DISTRICT POLICIES — Summaries of key policies that parents have asked about with links to a more comprehensive list of policies
"The Board of Education prohibits acts of harassment, intimidation, or bullying of a student. A safe and civil environment in school is necessary for students to learn and achieve high academic standards. Harassment, intimidation, or bullying, like other disruptive or violent behaviors, is conduct that disrupts both a student’s ability to learn and a school’s ability to educate its students in a safe and disciplined environment. Harassment, intimidation, or bullying is unwarranted, aggressive behavior that may involve a real or perceived power imbalance."
In addition to addressing issues that may arise in the school building or on school grounds, "schools are required to address harassment, intimidation, and bullying occurring off school grounds, when there is a nexus between the harassment, intimidation, and bullying and the school (e.g., the harassment, intimidation, or bullying substantially disrupts or interferes with the orderly operation of the school or the rights of other students)."
The Montclair Public Schools acknowledge the existence of racial disparities in education, socio-economic status, and other aspects of society in the United States due to ongoing racism in this country. As such, we the Montclair Public Schools recognize the need for an anti-racism policy as well as procedures that will result in improved educational experiences and outcomes for all students. Towards this end, The Montclair Board of Education will work towards creating an open and inclusive environment for all students so that anti-racism is at its core to support. It is our belief that schools should be places that welcome and value diversity so all students feel a sense of belonging and pride in who they are. A sense of connectedness and respect for differences among races, ethnicities, and cultural and religious backgrounds can help to establish the moral imperative of providing every child with a quality education.
Anti-Racism/Diversity education is education that is based upon a curriculum and pedagogy that works to eliminate racism, promote inclusion and create access to equity as a universal right for all students. The overall learning objectives of anti-racism education are to reduce prejudice and discrimination, mitigate the adoption of and facilitate corrections about stereotypes, and promote understanding, acceptance and appreciation for diverse groups and cultures.
The district's approach to achieving/maintaining diverse student populations within schools is addressed in the policy on Student Placement. To summarize, the policy addresses how the township Zones (A, B, C) are formed, how they are re/assessed on an ongoing basis, and what considerations are given in the student placement process.
The Building Principal or designee shall have the authority to assign discipline to students, however, said principal or designee must be mindful of the district's comprehensive outlook on handling disciplinary matters to insure that every effort should be made to utilize Restorative Justice Practices (see the "7 R's of Restorative Justice) in order to teach, as well as, guide students towards positive student outcomes.
Consequences and appropriate remedial action for a student who commits one or more acts or incidents in violation of district policies shall be engaged in responses ranging from positive behavioral interventions up to and including suspension or expulsion. The factors for determining consequences and remedial measures and examples of consequences and remedial measures are listed in Regulation 5600 – Student Code of Conduct & Restorative Justice Practices.
More RJ district resources can be found here.
PARENT & FAMILY PARTICIPATION — Some examples of how to get involved in your student’s classroom and/or school life
There are many ways for parents, caregivers, and others to support school efforts. Here are a few recommendations:
- PTA. One way that everyone can be involved, stay in the loop on information, and support general fundraising is to join your school’s Parent-Teacher Association (PTA). You can read about what a PTA does here and find membership information on the PTAC website.
- SATp. All schools also have a School Action Team for Partnerships (SATP) for parents who want to work directly on the school action plan and process.
- Elementary School. At the elementary school level, most teachers have a classroom parent(s) (at least 2) whose role is to help get important information to parents and caregivers, help with supplemental class activities like holiday parties, and coordinate activities outside of school (e.g., class playdates).
- Middle School Similar to the classroom parents at elementary schools, schools with a house system may have house parent(s).
- High School - At the high school, there are fewer opportunities to be involved at the classroom or house level, but parents are welcome to volunteer for the SATp or similar school-wide groups, chaperone trips and/or support individual clubs, sports, and activities.
As critical partners in the educational process, parents and caregivers are free to inquire about their student’s academic progress and options throughout the year without a formal invitation from the school or teacher to do so. In addition to contacting the primary or subject-matter teacher directly (see MPSD directory), all schools host formal parent-teacher conferences twice each year - once in the Fall and again in the Spring semester. Generally, conferences are held in person at your student’s school, however, conferences during remote learning are held virtually.
All grades - on individual assignments and for the class, overall - are tracked in Genesis, our student information system (SIS). This is a great way to monitor your student’s progress on an ongoing basis and both parents and students have separate logins that point to the same information. Students have access to the portal using their own login and using the information contained in the portal is a great prompt for discussion and partnership between parents/caregivers and older students.
Results of state-wide standardized testing are housed in Genesis for grades that are mandated (3, 4, 8, and high school). In addition, parents and caregivers also receive a mailed copy of a student’s test results and their performance relative to other students in the school and state. Please note that, during COVID-19 virtual learning, state-wide testing has been canceled.
DISTRICT OPERATIONS — Questions about transportation, free and reduced lunch, etc.
Transportation to and from school is provided free of charge for students who meet the eligibility requirements under the district's Transportation Policy. Under that policy, elementary and middle school students are eligible for busing if they live more than one (1) mile from their assigned school (measured by the shortest walking distance), and high school students are eligible for busing if they live more than 2.25 miles (recently reduced from 2.5) from Montclair High School.
Although it is suspended for SY 2020-2021, the district has in the past offered a "subscription busing" program, under which a family not otherwise eligible for busing under district policy can pay to take a bus to the extent they can get to an existing district bus stop and seats are available. (Subscription busing was offered free of charge to students who are eligible for free-or-reduced meals. The district also provides "special transportation" where and as mandated in a student's Individualized Educational Plan (IEP). Contracts to provide busing for Montclair students are awarded to vendors by route in accordance with state law requiring public bidding and award to the lowest qualified bidder. Concerns with the performance of a transportation vendor or its employees (drivers and aides) should be reported to the district's Transportation Office. Concerns with student misbehavior on the bus should be reported to the school principal.
Many parents believe they don’t need to complete and submit an application for free/reduced lunch if they are unlikely to qualify. Regardless of your income, there are three important reasons for all households to fill out the free/reduced lunch application (provided as an online application or as a printed form in either English or Spanish):
- If your child qualifies for free or reduced price lunches, he or she qualifies for free or reduced price breakfasts at school as well. We want to help your child eat healthy meals at school.
- Your child may receive other school benefits. The number of applications that are returned and approved can affect how much funding our schools get to help students meet academic benchmarks, including grant funding for materials like books and computers.
- The New Jersey Department of Education uses free or reduced price eligibility percentages in its methodology for determining "peer groups" for school and school district performance reports. The completeness and accuracy of our free and reduced price eligibility data helps to ensure fairness in performance evaluation across schools and school districts so that our schools receive the support and/or recognition that they deserve and need.
Go here for more information about concerns that parents sometimes have regarding the lunch application.
BEFORE/AFTERCARE & EXTRA-CURRICULARS — YMCA wrap-around care, sports, clubs, etc.
Montclair High School offers a wide variety of extracurricular activities for students, including Academic Clubs; Art, Music, Performance Interest Clubs; Awareness, Community & World Interest Clubs; Community and School Service Clubs; Special Interest/Cultural Clubs; and Sports and Recreational Clubs. More information can be found here.
The district supports more than 30 varsity sports at the high school level. Sports, and the season during which they are traditionally held, are listed below. For information on coaches and any adjustments that may have been made to start dates due to COVID-19, visit the district’s webpage on athletics.
For students in grade school and middle school there are affordable, after school, sports programs offered by the Montclair United Soccer Club, Montclair Recreation youth program and the Montclair YMCA to name a few.
|Season 1||Season 2||Season 3||Season 4|
|Cheerleading||Basketball (Girls & Boys)||Gymnastics||Baseball|
|Cross Country||Bowling||Volleyball (Girls)||Crew|
|Soccer (Girls & Boys)||Ice Hockey||Softball|
|Tennis (Girls)||Swimming||Tennis (Boys)|
|Track & Field||Track & Field|
Nearly all sports have associated booster clubs, which are groups of volunteers (usually parents/caregivers) who support the sport through targeted fundraising and activities for the members of that team. Although the school district and athletic department’s budgets provide lots of resources, additional funding might be needed for special equipment, programs/training, or trips. Find out more about the booster clubs that exist and the contact person for each here.
Prior to registering a student for before or after-care, they must have a YMCA student membership OR be part of a larger family membership. Registering for wrap-around care is handled by the YMCA (Park Street Branch) but availability, hours, and pricing are dependent on the school your student attends. Spaces are filled on a first-come, first-served basis and space is limited so early registration is highly recommended. Consideration is given for students who qualify for free/reduced lunch.
Care is offered only for elementary grades (K-5), however, there are special programs that extend to middle school grades during breaks (winter, spring) or days when schools are closed but many businesses/employers are not (e.g., professional development days, select holidays, etc.).