CRANFORD - It's been seven months since Cranford Superintendent Scott Rubin and the Cranford Board of Education started the conversation about Reimagining Cranford Public Schools.
As the months went by, Rubin and the Board of Education held a series of community meetings at each of the Cranford public schools to inform the public of what the proposal calls for. Immediately met with backlash, Rubin and the Board decided to expand the proposal into 10 different options that the public would be allowed to voice their opinion on.
All 10 options included creating full-day kindergarten, but the rest of the details varied as to which schools hosted which grades, whether or not there would be extra bussing, how many extra classrooms would be built on each school, average class size, how big of a tax hit each household would face, and more.
As the community meetings proceeded, each plan had its own group of supporters and detractors. In order to get a better grasp of which plan(s) were most popular and unpopular, the Board of Education created a survey in which each household was allowed one submission. The survey was open up until May 13, and the results, according to Rubin and the Board of Education, say that plans 8 and 10 received the most backing from the community. It should be noted that both plans 8 and 10 call for no additional bussing, a controversial subject amongst the community.
BAS, BPS, LAS, WAS -- Grades K-5 Schools
HAS and OAS -- Grades 6-8 Schools
This plan, if passed with everything included, would cost the taxpayer approximately $512. Four schools serve as neighborhood schools while each side of town receives a middle school. Construction includes 48 classrooms, the most of all plans, and one bathroom added throughout the district. In some cases, K-5 schools' cafeterias may not be able to accommodate all grades, resulting in eating lunch in the classroom. No bussing would be required.
Keeps all schools structured the same as now but adds full-day Kindergarten and additional classrooms. This plan, if passed with everything included, would be the lowest hit to the taxpayer of all plans at approximately $362. Construction includes 21 classrooms and two bathrooms added throughout the district. No redistricting and no bussing would be required.
***The average annual tax impact numbers provided by these plans are based upon the average assessment of a Cranford home, which is $183,303.
***To calculate your individual tax impact, take your actual home assessed value and divide it by 183,303. Then, multiply that number by an annual proposed tax impact of any plan.
In a message from Rubin on Tuesday, he noted, "1,937 participants completed the survey. Data will need to be scrubbed for duplications, but at the moment, it looks like there are no more than about 92 duplicates --more than one submission from an individual household (by scrubbing, I mean that we will contact those people where there was more than one submission per household to find out which submission should be counted). It does not appear that scrubbing this data will result in any substantial change."
His full message read:
I want to provide the community with an update on the Reimagining Cranford Public Schools survey.
As you know, we started the conversation with the community approximately 7 months ago and it has been a collaborative process, shaped largely by the community, as it should be. We have held several meetings, provided many presentations, and engaged in dialogue about what we as a community may want to do to enhance the school district. This initial conversation culminated in a survey which ended last week. I am glad this is the pathway we took. There are over 50 Districts that went out for a referendum within the past year and my understanding is that only one district administered a survey to get public opinion in advance of a referendum. We are representatives and it is so important that we collaborate and partner with the community and we greatly appreciate all who have engaged in this conversation.
We are currently working with Qualtrics to analyze the data and they will provide a link for us to send out the results to the community sometime in June. However, we want to provide you with some of the preliminary takeaways:
1,937 participants completed the survey. Data will need to be scrubbed for duplications, but at the moment, it looks like there are no more than about 92 duplicates --more than one submission from an individual household (by scrubbing, I mean that we will contact those people where there was more than one submission per household to find out which submission should be counted). It does not appear that scrubbing this data will result in any substantial change.
The proposed enhancements received a lot of support from the community and citizens would like to vote on these proposed enhancements separately from any potential plan.
Update science labs (CHS)
Modernize library / multi-media centers to support 21st Century STEM programs
Enhance performing arts spaces
Enhance accessibility options
Install AC in gyms, cafeterias, and performing arts spaces
Upgrade electrical service (all schools except for WAS which has already been upgraded)
Replace interior doors including hardware
Paving, masonry and concrete repairs
The following two plans received the most support:
Plan 8 (Full Day Kindergarten, adds appropriate educational support spaces, four K-5 schools, and two dedicated 6-8 middle schools --one on each side of town)
Plan 10 (Keep schools as they are currently zoned, adds Full Day Kindergarten, and adds appropriate educational support spaces)
Both of these plans provide great benefits to the school system and neither of them includes additional busing.
Again, we will provide a link to the data results in June and also provide you with next steps at that time. More takeaways will be evident once we have more time to look into the data. In June, it is likely that we will suggest getting a townwide committee involved in determining the next steps for these two supported proposed plans as well as the enhancements.
We look forward to continuing the conversation!