GREEN TOWNSHIP, NJ – Green Hills School is more popular than even its superintendent expected.
Superintendent John Nittolo reported to the board of education on Thursday, Nov. 29, that 23 students applied for the school choice program.
Green is one of a number of schools in the county that is eligible for school choice, meaning a student who lives within a 20-mile radius of the district can apply to attend school there. State aid will follow the student to the chosen school.
Nittolo said Green was expecting about 12 for the first year. He said the goal was to attract between 38 and 40 students over four years, but may achieve that in two years.
Green Hills School has 488 students in kindergarten through eighth grade.
Nittolo explained if the district gets more applicants than the 40 it anticipates, it can apply to the state for more.
The superintendent serves on the state’s school choice committee. He told the board there are some new regulations, but they have not been put in place yet. School choice started as a pilot program, but is adding more schools and accommodating more students.
One student will be admitted Dec. 3.
Nittolo explained after a discussion with the parents he decided to allow the student to start school this year. The parents will have to pay tuition until the end of this year when the student will come as part of the regular school choice program.
Tuition will be about $29 a day, half the $58 a day cost The board discussed whether it should approve this discounted rate and decided they would. Nittolo said if Green charged the total rate, the parents wouldn’t be able to pay it and they are paying property taxes toward school, just not in Green. Board policy allows the district to admit a student at any rate, from $0 to the full amount, Nittolo said. He also said he is convinced placement in Green is in the best interest of the student. The parents will be paying monthly.
The student needs no special services and the parents will be responsible for transportation, Nittolo said.
Once the child is in Green through school choice, the district will receive about $14,000 per year which is more than the cost per child, board member Betsy Wermuth pointed out.
In other business, the board agreed to add Martin Luther King Day, and the second day of the Presidents’ holiday as school days.
The school lost seven days to the storm which was its total allotment for snow days, Nittolo said. Holding school on Jan. 21 and Feb.19 will give the district two days back. If they need more than two snow days, days will come off spring break, starting with Friday and moving forward in the week.
He said that will be more useful than adding days to the end of the year. The superintendent will also “request the ability to use online days during snow,” he said, adding, “the charter school in Sparta did that during Sandy.” Nittolo explained teachers and students have to be prepared for holding school over the internet. “It could be done this year if it is oked by the Department of Education,” he added.
Another discussion also related to Superstorm Sandy.
Board member Timothy Kirby said Business Administrator Sallyann McCarty did a good deal of research into the purchase of a generator. The cost for one only strong enough to keep the pipes from freezing would be in excess of $100,000, which the board does not have budgeted.
Kirby suggested preparing the electrical system for a generator hook up in anticipation of being able to buy or rent one.
“We would have to contract with a rental company before a storm got here while they still had generators,” he noted, but a generator could be rented and hooked up to keep some heat in the building. It would cost $2,700 a day, including $2,000 a day in diesel fuel to run the generator.
McCarty said, “If it goes below freezing and we lose power, insurance will pay for it.” However, if the board rents a generator and the power doesn’t go off, insurance won’t pay for the rental.
The board will discuss the matter at future meetings.
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