Bloomfield district passes the test

At right, superintendent Sal Goncalves, with assistant superintendent Joseph Fleres, in an undated 2020 photo.

The Bloomfield School District has been given the state Department of Education’s seal of approval, recognizing it as a high-performing public school district.

The results of the DOE’s most recent tri-annual evaluation were announced by Superintendent Sal Goncalves at the Tuesday, Oct. 17, board of education meeting.

“Everything that we live and breathe in the school district is evaluated by Quality Single Accountability Continuum or QSAC,” Goncalves said, in reference to the evaluation process.

The process is mandatory and addresses overall accountability for every NJ public school district. The most-recent results for Bloomfield follow its high-performance 2020 QSAC rating. At that time, Goncalves noted that Bloomfield, as a sanctuary city, had children from all over the world in its classrooms. Goncalves has been superintendent since 2013.

At last week’s BOE meeting, he explained that a DOE team of investigators came to Central Office and studied data from five key areas: fiscal management, Vicky Guo, business administrator; governance, himself as superintendent; instruction and programming, Joseph Fleres, assistant superintendent and director of curriculum; personnel, Nick Dotoli and finally, operations.

“Operations is all of us,” Goncalves said.

A school district must receive a passing score of 80 in all five areas. Bloomfield received three 100s: fiscal, governance and operations. It received an 85 in personnel and an 81 in instruction.

For the district’s continuing overall success, Goncalves noted, among other reasons, community relationships, professional development and personnel.

“You see our successful community relations in our board meetings and with our business community,” he said. “Professional development is the lifeblood of what we do and we have amazing personnel. I’m proud of each one of them.’

Prior to his BOE announcement, Goncalves and Fleres spoke to this newspaper.

“We strove for perfection and achieved excellence,” Goncalves said. “This approval is not easy to get. You have to dot your I’s and cross your T’s.”

Both educators said they were excited and relieved by the results. A single failing score would have required the district to submit a district improvement plan to the DOE every year, for three years.

In the category of instruction and programming, Fleres credited a district educational program called Backstop in helping children regain their academic footing following the deleterious impact of the pandemic and virtual learning. Backstop is an after-school program providing pupils with more classroom time and a teacher. Fleres figured 25-30 percent of students, kindergarten to sixth-grade, took advantage of the initiative.

The BOE president, Jill Fischman, in a telephone interview, gave kudos to staff members who put in considerable time providing evaluators with documentation. It would have been great if all five evaluated areas received 100s, she said, but the district was still in the excellent category overall.

“We always try to improve, but I like where we’re sitting now,” she said.

BOE member Shane Berger, in a telephone interview, said he was ecstatic with the QSAC results and, like Fischman, said the outcome was a team effort. To maintain
success, Berger said there will be an expansion of classroom courses while district expectations will be raised and met.

“The board of education, as I do, believes that Algebra is a life skill,” he said. “We want to offer it in the lower grades. Also, science standards have increased. We’ll meet those standards and one way is to have science taught everyday in middle school.”

He hoped these additions will be implemented by September.