MIDDLETOWN, NJ  - The proposed closure of a school in Middletown is creating frustration among parents who are affected by the proposed decision.

Basically, he Middletown Board of Education, who are ultimately responsible for any decision, have to decide whether to accept or reject the recommendation of Superintendent William George to close and likely sell the Port Monmouth school and send the students to the New Monmouth School.

A decision some fear is already a done deal. 

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"Our goal is to provide the best educational programs and services for all of our students in an equitable and efficient manner" stated George. "The impetus for this proposal is the significant decline in student enrollment and decrease in funding."

He pointed to their five-year facility plan and needed repairs that are needed. They engaged in a strategic planning process and received about 10,000 survey responses and held seven strategic planning forums.

You can view his message here:

During a lengthy presentation by the Superintendent and Business Administrator, the Middletown Board of Education heard about budget shortfalls and state aid reductions over the last few years. They also heard from the public.

Public Schools across New Jersey, particularly in suburban areas, have been hit by cuts. One of the stated goals is to reduce class sizes. It was not clear how classes reduced organically due to reduced enrollment.

The public presentation can be viewed here:

 

The Middletown Board of Education released the following information in a FAQ document linked at the end of this article:

'When the S2 bill was signed into law in July 2018, it had an immediate impact on Middletown’s schools. The full implementation of this law takes place over a seven year period, starting with the 2018-2019 budget year, and will result in a projected reduction in state aid of $5.5 million. The district has discussed at board meetings and at its strategic planning forums the anticipated growing budget shortfalls going forward and the need to make changes in our operations and our district footprint in order to preserve our programs and services. At our last budget meeting, the current projected budget shortfall for 2020-2021 of $2.5 million was included in the presentation. The district has been working to find ways to address this that are not in conflict with our mission and the priorities identified during the strategic planning forums and survey that have taken place over the last several months. Throughout the strategic planning process, the community overwhelmingly requested that a priority be placed on reducing class size. Research points to smaller class sizes leading to improved student achievement in Title 1 schools. Therefore, the district is working to focus funding on Title 1 schools for class size reduction and other initiatives that will impact student achievement.

While the district’s enrollment continues to decrease, the district’s current structure does not allow for optimal management of class sizes. After analyzing the elementary school enrollment data across the district and reviewing specific scenarios, it became evident that by consolidating Port Monmouth and New Monmouth Schools, lower class size averages could be achieved at the same time as reductions in operating costs and more effective use of federal grant funds to assist at-risk students. The district has also been working on updating its Long Range Facilities Plan, which identifies significant maintenance and improvement projects for each district building over the next five years. The Plan includes over $3.8 million in identified facilities projects for the Port Monmouth building and site. These needed projects are not for improvements that will enhance the facility to meet 21st century learning requirements. Currently, at 92 years old, the school’s educational and common spaces, such as the gymnasium/cafeteria, do not have the capacity or other essential components of an optimal learning environment. New Monmouth School, the district’s newest elementary school, is a flagship facility in the district and can meet the needs of all Port Monmouth and New Monmouth students. Consolidating both schools at this time will provide funding for class size reduction, preserve programs and staffing, and ensure a learning environment that supports students’ educational needs in an equitable manner.' 

An FAQ of the proposal can be read by clicking HEREpdf