The Paterson Public School District is a diverse, urban school district located in northern New Jersey, 18 miles west of New York City. The third largest school district in New Jersey, the Paterson Public School District enrolls 29,400 students in preschool to grade 12. The district’s population mirrors the demographic trend of urban communities in New Jersey: 62 percent of all students are of Hispanic origin; 28 percent are African-American and approximately 10 percent are of Caucasian, Middle Eastern or Asian descent. Nearly 50 percent of all students in Paterson speak a primary language other than English, with a total of 37 languages spoken in district schools.
The Paterson Public School District is led by State District Superintendent, Dr. Donnie W. Evans, who works closely with the New Jersey Department of Education and nine elected members of the Paterson Board of Education. After state takeover in 1991, the district has established and implemented stringent controls and monitoring procedures related to all school and central office operations. To ensure consistent operations, all board policies and regulations have been reviewed, updated and are accessible on the district website. Working closely with the New Jersey School Boards Association, members of the Paterson Board of Education are preparing to assume leadership of the district when the State of New Jersey returns the district to local control.
The district currently has 54 schools with 2,526 certified teachers to accommodate students in kindergarten through grade 12. The district also provides a comprehensive preschool program, serving 3,447 three- and four-year-old students in 30 early childhood community provider centers and four in-district sites. The program provides a full day of developmentally appropriate instruction that promotes children’s social-emotional development and learning in the core areas of language and literacy, mathematics, science and social studies. Teachers utilize a research-based comprehensive curriculum adopted the Paterson Board of Education in order to provide a seamless transition to the kindergarten curriculum.
For all grades, instructional strategies and professional development efforts continue to draw upon school level data and scientifically-based research to target student strengths in order to build upon areas of greatest need. The district also remains focused on strategies to close the achievement gap between general education, special education and limited English proficient students as well as between ethnic, gender, and economically disadvantaged subgroups.
Additionally, a critical district objective is to increase student graduation rates and college enrollment plans for Paterson graduates. To that end, the district is engaged in a comprehensive High School Renewal Initiative. Supporting this effort is a 45 member Advisory Committee comprised of community stakeholders and district staff from a wide range of disciplines. The High School Renewal Initiative addresses issues related to policy, academic programs, family and community engagement, research and development and efficient and responsive operations. One significant outcome of this initiative is that Paterson’s high schools are now all schools of choice, providing a selection of twelve academic themes.
The district also recognizes that parental involvement and support are a critical component in our efforts to accelerate student achievement. An active Parent Resource Center, located at district headquarters, provides educational programs and information to the district community. Further, a network of community groups meet regularly throughout the school year, bringing a cross-section of expertise and counsel to the district. Translators and interpreters in the district are available to ensure that non-English speaking parents have an equal opportunity to information and decision making.
The Paterson Public School District remains steadfast in its mission to prepare every student for success in the institution of higher education of their choosing and in their chosen career.