NUTLEY, NJ - Nutley Commissioner Tom Evans addressed the issues surrounding school overcrowding in the Nutley Public School district at the January 2 Board of Commissioners meeting.
According to Evans, the school board is taking a zero based approach to their budget. Their budget is approved by the county superintendent and the state. It’s no longer subject to municipal vote. “A forum would help people better understand what the full challenges as to why the school board was looking at a referendum to address the schools. It’s been collapsed to a single sound bite that says overcrowding… is due to apartments and that’s just not true,” he said.
“When you eliminate nine classrooms from half day kindergarten to full day kindergarten it stresses your infrastructure. When you have a classroom that can handle 35 students but because of special needs you can only put four or six students in that same size classroom you have infrastructure challenges. The changes to curricular structure where you’re looking at a more integrated curricular around math, science and English and all the classrooms especially at the grammar school level and it moves up to the middle school and high school level it creates infrastructure challenges. …It’s required by federal law for a special needs student to have a teacher and a teacher’s aide. ...For a teacher to teach on an integrated basis the demand is for a smaller classroom size to allow that teacher more access to those students or hire an aide for a larger classroom size,” said Evans.
“The issue is infinitely more complex than the soundbites out there […] to mislead the people that it’s because of apartments that the schools are overcrowded,” he said.
According to Evans the natural turnover of single family homes have a greater impact on the schools than apartments. He said most apartments built recently in Nutley are one bedroom. “Two thirds of the homes in Nutley are empty nesters and 18 percent are senior citizens. …We can’t put up a sign ‘single family home for sale, so long as you don’t have children.’… You are making it a terminally ill town because it will go out of existence,” he said.
Read more about the Board of Commissioners meeting here: Nutley Commissioner Evans addresses 2018 municipal budget, school overcrowding
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