- East Brunswick Public Schools
Please see the link below to view Dr. Valeski's Interactive Forum from Tuesday, May 4th.
Root Cause prompting Temporary Classroom Unit additions and grade restructuring for September 2022:
- Based on current enrollment, we have used ALL of our elementary classroom capacity. Additionally, we do not have the current capacity to expand special education programming at our elementary schools.
- School enrollment projections, quantified by a Demographic Study Update for East Brunswick Public Schools, performed by Statistical Forecasting, LLC, June 2019, are at a total district enrollment of over 8,700 students by the 2023-24 school year without adjusting for any housing growth. That is an increase of 411 over our current enrollment.
The proposed grade reconfiguration, beginning September 2022, would be:
- Elementary Schools -Grades: PreK - 4
- Hammarskjold (functioning as an upper elementary school) - Grades: 5 - 6
- Churchill - Grades: 7 - 8 - 9
- High School - Grades: 10 - 11 -12
- What is the impact if we do not add Temporary Classroom Units (TCU’s)?
The immediate impact will be increased class sizes at elementary schools. With elementary classroom capacity exhausted, special education out-of-district placements will increase, resulting in increased Special Education tuition and the inability to provide “home” school experiences.
- Will the 5th graders miss out on their activities, for example: moving up ceremony, 5th-grade picnic, etc.
Our expectation is that the events typically held for 5th grades will occur for the 4th graders.
- Why can’t the temporary classrooms be placed at the High School, so 9th grade is with the high school for sports?
The option to place TCU’s on the high school campus for 9th grade was explored by the district’s architects and engineers. In addition to the footprint that TCU’s will take, utilities, water retention basins sidewalks would significantly diminish the high school’s available parking, as well as traffic flow and circulation.
- What are the benefits of moving 5th grade to Hammarskjold?
5th grade could be re-envisioned as the beginning of an upper elementary experience but with opportunities to create course electives that could enlighten the academic interest of students. Research shows that clustering students around similar developmental milestones may result in higher student achievement and satisfaction outcomes.
5th grade would begin the transition from self-contained classrooms into House Model settings at Hammarskjold along with their 6th-grade peers. By beginning the transition to upper elementary and still treating students as upper elementary, the abrupt 5th to 6th-grade transition in our current structure can be minimized.
- What are the benefits of moving 7th grade to Churchill Junior High School?
Research shows that clustering 7th and 8th-grade students in a middle school concept can further enhance age-appropriate curriculum and instruction at those levels.
- Concerns with 7th graders with 9th graders?
Our goal is to create an environment that supports the unique identity of 9th graders. Research points to more successful student outcomes throughout high school if they have had a positive 9th-grade experience.
- Will 7th graders be in lunch with 9th graders, or will each grade have their own lunch period?
Our goal is to compartmentalize grades at Churchill to the greatest extent possible, including lunch.
- If the H.S. doesn't have the necessary infrastructure for TCUs, what is different about Churchill JHS that can accommodate TCUs? Will the school lose fields?
Churchill has adequate land behind the north end of the building. Some existing field space will be lost until a permanent structure can be constructed to replace the Temporary Classroom Units (TCU’s). The Churchill site also allows the entire TCU structure to be paced closer to the building without reconstruction of roadways and parking surfaces.
- What is the plan for hiring teachers? How many will be needed? Will teachers from the current 7th grade move to Churchill JHS?
No new teachers will be needed in the initial grade restructuring. Once we have created additional space in our elementary school, new elementary teachers will be hired to fill newly created sections of students.
- How would the restructuring affect sports and extracurricular activities?
The grade restructuring will have no impact on either 8th or 9th grade athletics or extracurricular activities, in addition, we will explore opportunities for the 7th grade students to participate in those activities at Churchill.
- Will 7th grade be in the TCUs and 8th/9th remain in their current classroom structure?
That has not been formalized, at this time.
- How will three grades be accommodated in the auditorium, gyms, and cafeteria?
Efficient and intelligent scheduling will be a key factor in adding 7th grade to the Churchill complex.
- Will TCUs increase restroom space as well?
- What will be the impact upon transportation? Will more buses be required?
Actually, fewer bus routes may be required, allowing us the opportunity to explore later start times for some secondary students.
- Will restructuring affect the daily school schedule at Churchill JHS?
No, we will implement block scheduling as previously planned.
- Dr. Valeski mentioned that we do not want to create a middle school experience at HMS with 5th and 6th grade? Why specifically is an upper elementary experience better than a middle school experience?
School districts often design their grade level configurations based on the facility space they have. There is a body of research that discusses the advantage of differentiating upper elementary from primary elementary. The advantage in our proposal is that by having 5th and 6th graders together, we can elongate the transition to 7th grade. Currently, our students experience a significant transition from 5th to 6th grade. Parents consistently share that this is one of the most challenging transitions in their children’s EB career.
- Churchill is currently the most difficult school for students to navigate as it does still encompass the widespread footprint that was Smith and Churchill. The students do not have time to utilize lockers, and most of the lockers in the 8th grade wing do not work, so students are forced to carry all of their belongings, which is doubled for the athletes who are in season. With the addition of another 800+ students, what is the plan to ensure safety and traffic flow in the school? I assume some of this will be alleviated by the block scheduling being implemented (which is wonderful), but I have trouble envisioning how this will safely work with students racing from TCUs, which will increase the distance traveled by students across different parts of the school as it appears they are being put on the sports fields.
The very short answer to this very important question is we will design a traffic flow plan that optimizes the building while minimizing travel within the building. We may be able to compartmentalize each grade but there will unavoidable transitions to other parts of the building, such as Art. Music, Gym, lunch and certain electives.
- Once the 7th graders are moved to Churchill, will their scheduling include the same elective choices that the 8th graders have to allow for more of a true middle school feel versus the current limited selections at HMS?
Moving 7th grade to Churchill will give us the opportunity to explore elective offerings for them.
- With regards to middle school athletics, the current model allows for only 8th graders to participate due to the restrictions with transporting 6th and 7th graders to CJHS. With the movement of the 7th graders to CJHS, will they now be allowed to participate in middle school athletics?
We will explore opportunities for the 7th grade students to participate in athletics at Churchill.
- How is this project going to be funded? What measures are being taken by the town to mitigate the impact to taxpayers?
The addition of TCUs and the related capital costs (utilities, parking, etc.) at Churchill will be funded through the District’s budget. We do not anticipate a need for additional teachers as the grade restructuring will result in the realignment of existing teachers to the new model. With regard to mitigating costs, the District’s enterprise operation revenue are projected to increase, which will be applied to support the District budget.
- Will teachers need to be transferred due to the move of 5th grade to HMS?
Our current 5th teachers hold one of three certificates; N – 8, K – 6 or K – 5. Some also hold a middle school endorsement in a core subject. There will be no job loss due to certification as our teachers will all be appropriate placed within their certification area.
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