The New Jersey Department of Education (NJDOE), the New Jersey School Boards Association (NJSBA), and Sustainable Jersey, with the support of New Jersey Leadership for Educational Excellence (LEE), are pleased to announce the formation of the Sustainable Jersey Digital Schools Program. The Digital Schools Program, built on the proud legacy of Future Ready Schools - New Jersey (FRS-NJ), will provide a new slate of actions, resources, and programming within the successful Sustainable Jersey for Schools initiative. The Program will be administered by the Sustainability Institute at The College of New Jersey. Laurence Cocco, former director of Educational Technology at the NJDOE, has been named Senior Program Consultant for the Digital Schools Program. 

The original partners of the FRS-NJ program, NJSBA and NJDOE, have agreed to formally separate New Jersey’s program (formerly known as FRS-NJ) from the Future Ready Schools national brand (a subsidiary of the non-profit Alliance for Excellent Education). The change will enable our state’s program to more effectively link its content and standards to New Jersey-specific priorities, programs and resources.

The Digital Schools Program will continue the legacy of the highly successful FRS-NJ program, which certified 259 schools from 76 New Jersey school districts as “Future Ready.”  FRS-NJ content and resources will be reformatted to reflect the criteria established by the successful Sustainable Jersey for Schools program. The transition will strengthen the program’s mission of supporting schools, educators and students in meeting the challenges of digital learning.  Educational stakeholders will be included in the transition process to ensure that the program’s integrity, authenticity and efficacy are preserved and enhanced.

 

As part of Sustainable Jersey for Schools, the program will be supported by increased professional staff support, detailed guidance material, training, technical assistance, and access to ancillary funding sources 
 
“The importance of digital and remote learning to sustainability and resiliency has never been more evident as now, when schools across the state are faced with the need to address learning during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Dr. Lawrence S. Feinsod, NJSBA executive director. “We are excited to work with the New Jersey Department of Education and Sustainable Jersey for Schools in launching the Digital Schools Program to assist schools in meeting this unprecedented challenge.” 

“The New Jersey Department of Education is committed to expanding local school districts’ capacity for digital learning and ensuring that all students have access to the resources necessary for instruction in a digital age, whether in school or remotely,” said Dr. Lamont O. Repollet, Commissioner of Education. “The digital divide is a longstanding equity issue brought front and center by the recent health-related school closures. The new Digital Schools Program will play an important role in advancing a path to resolving this critical issue here in New Jersey.”   

Randall E. Solomon, Director of the Sustainability Institute at The College of New Jersey stated,“Education is a pillar of sustainability. Students have to master technology to become productive citizens, educators must master technology to become effective teachers, and schools must become adept at using technology to address distance learning and communications with parents and communities. COVID-19 has also shown us how disparities in access to technology among students and schools are exacerbating existing social inequality. The Digital Schools Program will provide schools, teachers, and parents with a roadmap for how to ensure technology is used appropriately to bring about a sustainable future.”


For more information, visit sustainablejersey.com or contact Larry Cocco, Senior Consultant, Sustainable Jersey Digital Schools Program at 609-771-2802 or coccol@tcnj.edu.