For years, as school enrollment dropped in the two local public schools (at one location, pre-k -8), we advocated such a sensible consolidation from two schools and administrations into one community school. It’s now a reality – good news!
This is our third 2019 school article (salaries – 4/19, State test results – 5/19) and now this, an update and review of data. 30 % of Brigantine’s property taxes support its public school. How efficiently has that revenue been spent to benefit students and taxpayers? See below, #2 and #3. The Boards of Education and of School Estimate must be fully, openly accountable to the public, do a better job of serving students and taxpayers, and acknowledge that this is a “community” school. And, the public must care.
1. The estimated enrollment pre-k through grade 8 for the start of this school year is 506 students, 65 in pre-k, 46 in kindergarten, and 395 in grades 1-8. At the beginning of 2019, there were 556 pupils in a building designed for over 1100 students.
2. Brigantine is one of NJ’s 15 Type 1 school districts out of over 550 such districts. This means the mayor alone appoints the 7-member Board of Education. For years the people of Brigantine have been told by those in control that its quality of public education is excellent, great. To the contrary, annual State tests have revealed a continuing mediocre level of academic achievement. Based on the 2018 State test results in Math and English Language Literacy for each school, Brigantine’s two schools met or exceeded State standards in only 1 of 4 categories, that of Elementary School Math.
3. Brigantine’s school district has a pattern of high costs. For instance, in 2016-17, it had the highest Atlantic County public- school administrative costs. In 2017, Brigantine ranked fifth in the State for highest median teacher salaries. And, according to the Newark Star Ledger education reporter, Brigantine now ranks 16th in the State for the highest per- pupil costs. In our 2019 school budget, the per-pupil cost has increased to $26,493. THERE IS NO AUTOMATIC CORRELATION BETWEEN HIGH EXPENSES AND ACADEMIC ACHIEVEMENT.
The results of the spring 2019 State assessments (tests) have been distributed to local school boards. After a State-mandated time for local use, ending on 11/8/19, “scores can be released publicly on that date”. We will keep you informed with the hope that Brigantine’s district will show improvements and progress in educating all or more of its pupils to the extent of their abilities at a reasonable cost.
Paid for by the Brigantine Taxpayers Association