Renew the contract for North Plainfield Superintendent of Schools, Dr. James McLaughlin
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In December of 2014 -- just under three years ago -- Dr. James McLaughlin was welcomed as the new Superintendent of the North Plainfield School District. He replaced Dr. Marilyn Birnbaum, who had served as Superintendent for nearly 20 years. In the three years he has been here, Dr. McLaughlin has worked to continually improve the North Plainfield Schools, implementing a wide range of initiatives and achieving results such as those listed below:
- Received a $1.6 million NJ Department of Education grant to provide full day preschool to all four year olds
- Received another NJ DOE grant for Achievement Coaching, allowing eight staff members to attend an intensive four day seminar and develop plans to maximize teachers' professional development.
- Increased participation in (and expansion in the availability of) AP courses. The College Board has recognized the achievement of our students, awarding 27 AP Scholars, 2 AP Scholars with distinction, and 1 AP Scholar with Honors.
- Increased graduation rate (94.5% in 2017, five points higher than the NJ state average), with students getting accepted to colleges such as Princeton, Cornell, NYU, etc., in some cases with full scholarships. 15% of the Class of 2017 were members of the National Honor Society.
- Performance gains on PARCC testing in literacy for 5-7th grades, and both literacy and math for 3-4 grades.
- Biliteracy Academy, providing instruction at an early age in both English and Spanish.
- North Plainfield High School was named as both a New Jersey School of Character and a National School of Character in 2016.
- Somerset Intermediate was named as a National School of Character in 2017.
- North Plainfield High School, East End Elementary, and West End Elementary were recognized with Promising Practice Awards in 2017.
- All three elementary schools, as well as the Middle School have met the rigorous requirements to achieve Sustainable Jersey for Schools certification.
- Frequent, open parent discussion forums which allow the parents to set the agenda and discuss any concerns they have directly with the Superintendent.
Truly, Dr. McLaughlin has achieved quite a bit in his short time here in North Plainfield, and the list above shows how he supports our teachers, parents and students at all levels. Unfortunately, as of this time, the North Plainfield Board of Education has not made a motion to renew Dr. McLaughlin's contract. If this does not happen before the end of December, we can assume that the Board has decided by default not to renew. Given the achievements listed above, it is in the community's best interest to continue our relationship with Dr. McLaughlin.
Shortly after he began here, Dr. McLaughlin said, in an interview with TAP Into North Plainfield:
"So many times, schools abandon projects before they are able to see what the maximum impact can be. We want to stay with a program long enough that we can get the maximum out of it," said the superintendent, adding that teachers and parents have expressed concern over the changes from one year to the next. "We want to take these good programs and bring them to the next level and build on them so that if you are a teacher – and this goes for parents too – and become really proficient in a program you aren’t worried that in a year or two you are going to have to learn something new."
With so much moving in the right direction, now is not the time for something new. It is vital that we express our support for Dr. McLaughlin and the direction he is taking our schools.
Let the Board of Education know that you want them to renew Dr. McLaughlin's contract by signing the petition and sharing your thoughts at the Board of Education meeting on Wednesday, November 15th at 7:30pm at East End School.
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