Faced with varying student populations at several of its schools, the Brick Township school district may look into redistricting in order to better balance class sizes.
“At Vets Elementary, we have no room left in the building,” said Interim Superintendent Richard Caldes. “Emma Havens is our biggest school on the other side of town and enrollment is down there.”
According to figures from the state Department of Education, Veterans Memorial Elementary School had 670 students during the 2013-14 school year, the latest year for which figures have been released, while Emma Havens Young Elementary School had 924 students.
Under redistricting, school officials would redraw the maps that dictate which neighborhoods send students to which schools in order to best balance class sizes, student-to-teacher ratios and other factors. Caldes said if officials decide to look into the matter, a demographer would be hired to conduct a study and make recommendations. The district will use a different demographer than the one who was hired several years ago to conduct a study as to how the district’s full-day kindergarten initiative should be implemented. That study faced criticism for some of its methodologies.
The implementation of full-day kindergarten in Sept. 2013 marked the last time the district broached the issue of redistricting. What was then known as the Primary Learning Center was closed and kindergarten classes – which were all held at the PLC – returned to neighborhood elementary schools. A year later, the PLC was reopened as a traditional elementary school and named for Warren H. Wolf, the legendary Brick Township High School football coach, former assistant superintendent and township mayor.
At the time, school officials said the Warren H. Wolf Elementary School was opened after the school population began to increase after years of declines, and construction got underway on 214 new housing units down the street from the school behind the township’s post office. Right now, the school is only home to two grade levels – kindergarten and first grade.
Redistricting is not yet a guarantee, and the process of even looking into the matter has not started.
“We’re thinking about looking into redistricting,” Caldes said.