Hillside and Hillside New Tech contemplate a merger

A proposed merger between Hillside and Hillside New Tech could take place during the 2014-15 school year with a final decision to be made by Jan. 1.

Kayla Tate

Kayla Tate

Hillside New Tech is a separate school within Hillside High School that uses technology in order for their students to complete the majority of their work. This school allows students to become familiar with the technology in our changing society and requires students take a large number of online classes.

“There is absolutely no attempt to close Hillside New Tech,” Area Superintendent of High Schools, Jim Key said.

Key explained that the purpose of this merger is to provide more learning opportunities, to merge resources and to help students find their “niche” to keep them motivated and successful.

In the initial brainstorming meeting, held Sept. 16, Hillside New Tech teachers seemed to be worried about losing their sense of identity and the “brother/sisterhood” within the school.

Overall, not many were completely opposed to the idea, but they did have concerns.

Key allowed the teachers and staff to list what they thought the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats were, as well as any recommendations they had for this possible merger.

“We don’t want anything that’s working well here to suffer or go backward,” Key said.

It could be very beneficial for the two schools to come together.

A merger would allow both schools to get the proper support of Hillside’s strong alumni association and to take advantage of school funding; two strengths that came up during the discussion.

If the merger took place, Hillside New Tech would become an academy like the Hillside International Baccalaureate program.

Hillside International Baccalaureate (IB) Program is a worldwide program that allows students to become world thinkers as they learn about world problems. This program is compatible to AP programs but instead is split into two different programs. Freshmen and sophomores are enrolled in the Middle Years Program (MYP) and juniors and seniors are enrolled into the IB Diploma program that gives students a diploma if they meet the requirements upon graduation from high school.

The question that came up in the meeting was how would the school’s three different cultures (Hillside, Hillside New Tech and Hillside IB) merge successfully.

“We want the integrity of the program to be maintained,” Key said.

“The hope would be that neither Hillside nor Hillside New Tech would feel like they’re getting the short end of the stick.”

To prevent any of these programs from getting the short end of the stick, Key made sure to mention that he plans on having parent meetings and student focus groups to get everyone’s input about this possible merger.

He said he was prepared to have as many meetings as needed.