Included in the 2016-17 Brick school district budget is a long-sought project to improve a gym that has been deteriorating for years, as well the creation of STEM academies at both of the township’s high schools.
The STEM Academies will begin with 25 students at each high school, said district administrator Susan McNamara. STEM, an acronym for “science, technology, engineering and mathematics,” has been cited as one of the largest areas of job growth in America, part of the reason why district officials sought to offer a specialized program in it. The program will initially have a dedicated teacher who will travel between the two high schools, teaching a specialized curriculum.
“Eventually, as the enrollment increases, we would like to put one integrated STEM Academy teacher in each school,” McNamara said. “I think you’ll see projected costs with the STEM academies change through the years.”
The first-year cost for the program will be $84,260. Students will have to test into the program. Eventually, the district would like classes of 25 students at each high school in each grade level, for 200 students total.
The academies have a side purpose of keeping the township’s most gifted students in-district. In many cases, officials have said, those students attend county academies, such as MATES, instead of staying in Brick.
A separate project included in this year’s school budget will improve the East Gym at Brick Township High School.
Educational Specialist Richard Caldes, during a budget presentation Thursday night, showed photos to those in attendance picturing the gym’s problem areas.
“The floor is warped throughout the gym in a lot of spots,” he said, attributable to roof leaks which have since been fixed.
“The bleachers are the original bleachers are in terrible conditions,” Caldes continued. “Some are cracked and broken and some are sunken into the floor.”
The photos included one showing a piece of a wooden bleacher cracked and exposed.
A $173,000 project will replace the bleaches and improve the gym floor. The floor will not be fully replaced, rather, it will be taken up and sanded to even out its level. Certain sections will, however, be replaced. A set of dividing doors in the gym, which have not been used in years, according to Caldes, will be removed.
The school budget will also fund technology improvements, doubling the district’s internet connection from 1gb to 2gb per second, and providing 400 laptops and 1,000 Chromebooks to students as the district’s one-to-one technology program expands.
The technology upgrades will cost $1,774500.