Eastern Brunswick Schools Unveil Major Restructuring Plan for Fall 2022

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EAST BRUNSWICK — The school district will implement a school-level restructuring plan in September that will add temporary junior high classrooms as well as changes to start and closing times for all schools.

The move will also help ease anticipated overcrowding at the elementary levels, district officials said.

But the district may be forced to take other measures to deal with the growth in enrollment, including the possibility of building a new high school or modifying the current structure.

“Depending on the community – what’s the fun of the community – and obviously the school board should vote to pursue a new high school and to what extent,” Superintendent of Schools Victor Valeski said.

Under the most aggressive schedule, Valeski said, a referendum could take place in the 2022-23 school year, with construction beginning in the 2023-24 school year and continuing throughout the year. school year 2024-25. The new high school could then open for the 2025-2026 school year.

“It’s impressive and it assumes everything else falls into place,” he said. “State approvals, funding, successful tenders, successful contractors, successful weather and there are a lot of variables there. But it’s a reasonable but aggressive schedule.”

Last year the superintendent said the current restructuring plan focused on the lower grades.

“This is surrounded by three distinct priorities – building sustainable elementary capacity in all of our elementary schools, focusing on equity in elementary schools, and containing costs to minimize fiscal impacts on township residents,” Valeski said. . “We view this as an opportunity for improvement.”

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The eight elementary schools in the district will accommodate students in kindergarten through 4th grade, while Hammarskjold will accommodate fifth and sixth grades and seventh grade will transfer to Churchill Junior High School. Grade 8 and 9 students will remain at Churchill. East Brunswick High School will remain in grades 10-12.

In turn, class sizes in elementary schools will be smaller. It will be an advantage, Valeski said.

Hammarskjold Middle School will be renamed Hammarskjold Upper Elementary School.

Hammarskjold College

It would not be the first reconfiguration of the district. Elementary schools in years past served students up to sixth grade, while Hammarskjold and Churchill were for students in grades 7-9.

Change the school bell

In September, the district will also change school start and end times to coordinate with a two-tier bus schedule.

Churchill and High School will operate from 8 a.m. to 2:45 p.m., while elementary and Hammarskjold schools will start at 9 a.m. and end at 3:35 p.m.

The district now has a three-tier bus schedule with elementary schools starting at 9:10 a.m. and ending at 3:25 p.m., Hammarskjold Middle School starting at 8:03 a.m. and ending at 2:50 p.m. and Churchill Junior High School and East Brunswick Secondary School starting at 7 26 p.m. and ends at 2:12 p.m.

The root cause

According to the district, the restructuring of grades and the addition of temporary classrooms were driven by the need to match enrollment with classroom space.

Based on current enrollment, the district is utilizing all of its elementary classroom space.

But the district does not have the capacity to expand special education programs in the eight elementary schools.

Enrollment projections, made in June 2019, projected the district’s total enrollment of more than 8,700 students by the 2023-24 school year without adjusting for any housing growth. This represents an increase of 411 students over current enrollment.

Valeski noted that the study was done before the pandemic. Since the pandemic, “migration to Brunswick East continues to accelerate,” he said.

If the temporary classrooms are not added, the impact will be “immediate” in the form of increased class sizes in elementary schools. In turn, with the capacity of elementary classrooms depleted, out-of-district special education placements will increase, leading to higher special education tuition and the inability to provide “home” school experiences. district officials said.

Class restructuring also contributes to “lengthening the transition” from primary school to higher grades. Previously, the transition from elementary to middle school was described as “shocking” for many students, Valeski said.

“We know there is an impact on children,” Valeski said. “We want to take steps to ensure our students’ transition is as smooth as possible.”

Benefits for students

According to the presentation available on the district’s website and on YouTube, K-4 students will have a consistent schedule to “ensure curriculum consistency and equity.”

The sample student timetable will emphasize maximizing instructional time and provide a longer period for lunch and recess.

Additionally, in addition to language arts, math, science, and social studies, all grades K-4 will include the five world languages ​​and cultures curriculum.

According to the restructuring plan, the fourth year will not have a change of teachers and classrooms as in the past, but will instead have interdisciplinary integration.

In grades 5 and 6 at the new Hammarskjold Upper Elementary School, students will continue to be assigned “houses.”

Cycles will be offered, including family consumer science and theater, as well as elective courses. There will be an exchange of two teachers during the day, which will facilitate the eventual transition to college.

Hammarskjold students will have longer lunch and recess periods of 45 minutes and schedules will have a day A/day B routine. Math Prime in sixth grade and gifted education programs will be offered.

In seventh grade at Churchill Junior High School, students will have a block schedule, more electives, and specialist-level coursework opportunities.

Churchill High School

Classes will be separated as much as possible at Churchill, including lunch. The seventh grade will be self-contained in the temporary classrooms.

The ninth grade could not be moved because temporary classrooms could not be placed in the high school. The high school never hosted the ninth grade.

Churchill has adequate land behind the north end of the building, district officials said, although some existing land space will be lost until a permanent structure can be built to replace it. temporary classrooms.

No new teachers will be needed during the initial classroom restructuring, the district said, as existing teachers will be realigned to the new model. Once additional spaces have been created in primary schools, new primary teachers will be hired.

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Cheryl Makin is an award-winning reporting and education reporter for MyCentralJersey.com, part of the USA Today Network. Contact: [email protected] or @CherylMakin.

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