New faces to greet students when Byram schools open

| 28 Sep 2011 | 02:52

    BYRAM n The Byram school district will implement an improved security system, but the added cameras and sign-in procedures have nothing to do with the number of new faces that will be entering the buildings when the academic year begins next week. A new principal, Jack Leonard, and assistant principal, Jennifer Eisenmann, will be walking the halls of the Byram Intermediate School when students return Wednesday. They are just one of 15 new hires entering the school system including teachers for each of the first, third, fourth and eighth grades. The new faces replace former employees who retired at the end of the past school year. Byram school superintendent Joseph Pezak said efforts to keep class size below 25 students played a role when assigning the new teachers. "It's an ongoing issue," he said. "We want to reduce class size. We're making some progress, but it's a slow, gradual process." Beginning this year, there will be only one entrance open to visitors, who will be required to sign in before entering the intermediate and elementary schools, said Pezak. The door will be locked at all times and security cameras will also be in place to monitor individuals entering and leaving the buildings. Pezak said sate lawmakers have mandated the initiatives backed by acting Gov. Richard Codey. "This comes as no surprise," he said. "Many of the school districts are doing this. It represents a heightened sensitivity to world events by tightening up our precautions for intruders." The district will also open a program under the direction of the Randolph YMCA in which residents can drop off children at the Byram Lakes Elementary School beginning at 7 a.m. prior to the beginning of classes. The new childcare program will provide study activities and snacks for participating children. Parents must contact the Randolph YMCA to negotiate payment plans. Many residents are upset with the school district's decision to eliminate bus service for students in local commercial daycare centers. Pezak said there are now too many children in the school district to accommodate everyone in those programs. The district will also begin a math assessment program that will monitor the progress of students during a weekly, 15-minute online evaluation. "It's always been one of our goals to improve our math scores," said Pezak. "We're going to find out where our weaknesses are rather rapidly this year."