A number of parents from the Herbertsville section of Brick Township, still upset over the announcement that their community’s elementary school will close and be repurposed as a preschool, have switched their focus to the future of their children in the district.
Where will Herbertsville students be educated come the 2020-21 school year? The answer from district officials: it’s still being decided.
“We’re in the process of determining where they are going to go,” said Susan McNamara, Director of Planning, Research and Evaluation for the district, explaining that she has developed a spread sheet and is coordinating with the district’s special services staff to ensure special education students’ needs are met.
Herbertsville School currently educates 227 students in grades K-5. Of those, 31 are fifth graders who would be moving on to Veterans Memorial Middle School regardless of the future of Herbertsville. The closest schools to Herbertsville geographically are Lanes Mill Elementary School – just up the street – or Veterans Memorial Elementary School.
Alyce Anderson, the district’s Director of Curriculum and Instruction, said siblings will not be separated except in cases where one sibling has special needs and must attend a different school due to their individualized education plan, or IEP.
Once the final decision is made on which school the remaining 186 students will attend, efforts will be made to ensure they are comfortable in their new school setting, officials said. Every child will be accounted for and placed – whether all in one school or divided between schools based on redistricting.
“We will invite those [new] principals to come to Herbertsville to meet with those students and welcome them into the new community,” said McNamara.
Following that meeting, a date will be set for Herbertsville students to make an in-person visit to their new school.
For sure, class sizes will increase as more students are educated in fewer buildings, but the district is making plans to mitigate any negative affects of greater student density.
“We’re working on an academic teaming model for new ways to engage students,” said Anderson, explaining that staff is undergoing a significant amount of training and professional development in order to better serve larger classes.
“Providing teachers with strategies and support is so important,” Anderson added.