A redistricting plan that will affect three elementary schools in the Brick Township district is already underway due to concerns over class size, Interim Superintendent Thomas Gialanella said.
The redistricting plan will ultimately affect 64 students, who will be moved out of Veterans Memorial Elementary School and moved to either Herbertsville or Midstreams elementary schools.
“This was really a matter of geography,” said Dennis Filippone, Director of Planning, Research & Evaluation for the district. “While we realize we have declining enrollment in the district, the Veterans area was not declining.”
Veterans Memorial Elementary School had the highest class sizes in the district, Filippone said. The redistricting will bring the average VMES classroom to 21.2 students next year, at approximate parity with the district’s other elementary schools. The average Midstreams class will have 19.3 students and Herbertsville will have 21.4 students, which is likely to go down after one year due to an unusually high third grade population, which will be split into two fourth grade classes, said Filippone.
“Change is difficult,” said Gialanella. “I understand that the change of schools, whenever you’re talking about any student, is difficult to do. It is a small step to try and equalize class size.”
The streets affected by the change are: Sawmill Road, Spiral Drive, Bay Bridge Drive, Oak Knoll Drive, Herbertsville Road, Eastham Road, Oxford Road, Aldgate Drive, Smith Road, Barclay Drive, Smith Circle, Azalea Drive, Driscol Drive and MacArthur Drive. In all, 46 students will be taken in by Midstreams and 18 students will be added to Herbertsville.
No parents commented on the changes at the Board of Education meeting last week where they were formally adopted.
Gialanella said the plan was already in place before the board approved it, where some students this year were moved out of VMES, in order to keep class sizes down.
“Looking to the future, I don’t know what’s going to happen, but I think it solves the problem for the present,” said Gialanella. “We’ll have to see where the gains and losses are in the future.”
A demographic study of the township completed recently indicated that the district will continue to lose students, however the losses will eventually plateau. The Brick district, like many in southern New Jersey, has seen student population decline as a result of Millennials putting off having children or moving out of state, studies have shown.
Gialanella said students currently in third or fourth grade will be ale to stay in their current schools if they make a request to the district and provide their own transportation. No bus routes will accommodate students who are attending schools other than their assigned school.