Sayreville schools improve psych, math programs

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By JACQUELINE DURETT
Correspondent

SAYREVILLE — Superintendent of Schools Richard Labbe shared how two purchases will have a positive impact on students in the district during the May 17 school board meeting.

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The board approved a resolution for a one-year, $275,000 contract with Effective School Solutions (ESS) to provide students with therapeutic mental health services. Having ESS’s services available will allow the district to bring back six students who previously required out-of-district placement, Labbe said.

He added that the service will also help at-risk students before their mental health needs may exceed what the district can provide, explaining to the board that there are students who are chronically absent and late because of their mental health condition.

“One of the other benefits of this is it will stop kids from going out of district,” he said. “At the high school level, we lose a lot of children from this high school because they develop depression and anxiety and they refuse to come to school, and we don’t have the psychiatric services to support them here or to support them at home.”

Labbe said the contract with ESS, which will run from July 1 through June 30, 2017, will allow up to 19 students to receive ESS’s services at a given time.

As for the six children slated to return to the Sayreville district, Labbe said ESS has already met with the them and their families about how they can help, and those meetings went well.

“We got the parent buy-in from the beginning,” Labbe explained.

ESS’s services are currently employed by 23 districts in New Jersey, including Cranford, Westfield and Scotch Plains-Fanwood, and in four in Connecticut, according to the service.

Math program expansion

Labbe also discussed how the purchase of software called Spatial-Temporal Math from Mind Research Institute will assist elementary school students throughout the district. Labbe said the district’s $114,750 spending would allow the district to expand use of the software from children who only attend Samsel Upper Elementary School to all district children from kindergarten through fifth grade.

He said what is unique about the program is that the software doesn’t just tell the student if he or she is right or wrong, but takes a student through the correct process to get to the right answer. Students are guided through building problem-solving skills by a penguin named Jiji.

He said every child has his or her own account, so the software is personalized to their needs and rate of progress.

The district will spread out the cost of the software over three years.

Both initiatives were approved by the board, and there were no comments from the public at the meeting on either project.

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