The Community Advisory Committee, , is preparing to draft a report of its findings to present to the school’s governing body in September.
The group, which has been meeting monthly but not convening in August, was tasked with finding different ways–if any–to make up for a potential enrollment drop of 500 students over the next five years.
The committee, made up of volunteers from the community, encompasses parents, empty-nesters and residents without children alike, and has met six times since March.
The committee is now ready to take action and make a proposal to the board of education, according to board member Michelle Munley.
The proposal will include the following options:
- Maximizing space utilization. This option would enable the district to expand existing programs into unused classroom space.
- Examining the role of the district as an education service provider to other areas.
- Enabling outside organizations to occupy the vacant space. This would primarily be for after school activities, but utilization of the space during school hours is not off the table.
- Consolidation of existing space via redistricting.
- Neighborhood schooling. This option would reassign each school to a specific set of grades, i.e., grades K-2 for Cucinella School, grades 3-5 for Flocktown-Kossmann.
- Closing a school building.
“These are the options the committee has come up with,” Munley said. “We think this is what can be done and still help us be fiscally responsible while providing quality education.”
Not the First Time
A decade ago a demographer’s report showed enrollment in Washington Township schools was going to escalate, so much so that the board at that time recommended a new school building be built.
From that came the largest school building built in the township, as the Benedict A. Cucinella School was erected on Naughright Road.
That decision, now, seems to be a poor one, and Munley said the committee is wary about making a similar decision.
“The community is very concerned about the permanency of positions,” Munley said. “They don’t want to implement something and then the projection doesn’t play out. We want to be cautious and move wisely. We don’t want to kick ourselves down the line.”
The committee will finalize those options at its next meeting on Sept. 27, Munley said. A draft report will be proposed to the board, which will then be given back to the committee for final approval on Oct. 17. The formal decision by the committee regarding which option to pursue will be made to the board on Nov. 13.
From there it’s the board’s decision, Munley said.
“It’s important for this plan to be fluid–so many factors have played into this situation,” Munley said. “And people want to see this to fruition.”
The next Community Advisory Committee meeting will be held at the on Sept. 27 at 7 p.m.