Barnegat Leader

Barnegat School Reconfiguring Plan Implementation Delayed

Apr 19, 2019

A proposed reconfiguring plan for the Barnegat Township School District will not be implemented beginning in September 2019. Instead, District Superintendent Brian Latwis wants to explore the issue by inviting concerned parents to serve on a district improvement panel.

In a recent letter, Latwis said the decision was made following a March 14 informational meeting in which he presented the plan and sought feedback. Among various changes, the reconfiguration would have resulted in the four elementary schools housing two grades each rather than continuing as K-5 buildings. The Cecil S. Collins School would house pre-K and kindergarten. The Joseph T. Donohue School would be home for first and second grade. Third- and fourth-graders would attend the Lillian M. Dunfee School, while the Robert Horbelt School would house grades five and six. The Russell O. Brackman Middle School would house grades seven and eight instead of the current six through eight, becoming a junior high.

“We have gathered evidence that indicates many see the vast benefits of the proposed reconfiguration,” said Latwis. “However, these same surveys express concerns with the timing and implementation of this project.”

As a result, Latwis said the administrative team and board of education have agreed to delay implementation from the originally proposed date of this September.

“While we see many benefits from the proposed reconfiguration, we also put high value on all the stakeholders’ feelings and requests,” said Latwis. “The current district challenges we have presented are very real concerns, and we wish to partner with our community, addressing them to the best of our abilities.”

Latwis said once the panel is formed, it would break into various subcommittees to look at specific issues. By the end of the month, he said, the roster of panel members as well as a meeting schedule will be announced.

“The panel would consist of parents, staff members and administrators,” said the superintendent. “We’re not going to have a timetable on implementing the plan. We’re going to do this step by step, and hopefully when we’re through, we’ll come up with a plan that is fair to everyone.”

He said anyone interested in serving on the panel can email him at onebarnegat@barnegatschools.com.

Tracy Sutton, a parent who recently spearheaded a petition drive opposing the plan, said she would be interested in serving on the panel.

“I know many other parents who are interested,” she said. “Parental input is extremely important when it comes to such a major change.”

“Not for nothing, but the whole train of thought expressed in the current superintendent’s letter is what should have been expressed from the very beginning,” said Sutton, whose petition had nearly 1,000 signatures. “Work with us parents, communicate with us, keep us informed, listen to our opinions and concerns. They may be Barnegat’s students, but they are our children, and they deserve nothing but the best education that can be provided to them.”

— Eric Englund

ericenglund@thesandpaper.net

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