NUTLEY, NJ - Responses to a public comment at the December 18 Board of Education meeting shed light on the challenges the Nutley Public Schools will face in 2018 as they deal with the issue of the shrinking classroom throughout the district.
Yantacaw parent Shawn Bevec asked the board about their plans to deal with space issues now that the December 12 referendum was voted down and the possibility of a scaled back refendum in the future. The meeting was the first meeting of the board after the vote.
BOE president Danny Carnicella reiterated what the board has been saying since January 2017, the board needs to have a "solution to overcrowding and resolving it once and for all. The goal, if the referendum didn't pass, has been additional trailers to add more education space in the district.
Carnicella further explained that population numbers show that the district will have to look at increasing class size and making shifts to educational programming. Redistricting, according to Carnicella, doesn't solve the problem as it just moves the problems from one school to another. Redistricting displaces students in different ways including the potential situation whereby a student will start in one elementary school and find themselves in a different school another year.
With regard to Bevec's query about a scaled back referendum that deals with just the middle school, Nutley Superintendent of Schools Dr. Julie Glazer explained that it would not solve all of the problems. She said there would still be be trailers at the elementary schools and students receiving instruction in spaces that were not built as classrooms.
It was also explained that a scaled back referendum would set up the district for what has been done in the past: a bandage to address an immediate problem and the need to go back out for another referendum in a few years.
Glazer explained that in the coming year, there will be focus groups to create more dialogue about the situation and how Nutley found itself here. She assured Bevec and those in attendance at the meeting that the BOE will continue to share ideas with the community.
In 2017, the Nutley Board of Education held a series of public meetings addressing the issue of overcrowded schools. The meetings were held in each of the elementary schools, John H. Walker Middle School, in the Nutley Public Library, and at various civic and service organization meetings in the township. The meeting were open to the public.
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