We all know money is tight right now. For most of us, that means clipping coupons, eating home more often, and skipping the $4 mocha latte that has been part of our morning routine for years. But the economy seems to be taking it’s toll on our schools, or at least the ones in this district, and one can only wonder how it’s going to affect our children.
There are several changes for this school year; some apply to every school in the district, and some to certain schools. The district-wide changes include having school on Veteran’s Day, which has always been a day off around here. And the field trips are now a thing of the past, because they just can’t afford it unless someone else foots the entire bill.
The most cuts were made to the Primary and Elementary schools that handle Pre-Kindergarten through 5th grade. For starters, there will be a lot of staff sharing between schools. This applies to art, music, and a guidance counselor. And the regular teachers better brush up on their Espanol, because they’ll be teaching it to their students now. It seems the Spanish teacher is no longer with us.
The kindergartners will ride with the big kids now, instead of on their own busses, which cuts down on drivers, fuel, and bus maintenance. Since we’re on the topic of busses, now would be a good time to mention that the district is no longer providing after school transportation except for the detention bus. And the days of free Pre-K are gone; there is a tuition fee now. That’s not the only fee; Kid’s Klub and Summer Klub are being charged as well. As for testing, NJPASS for 1st and 2nd grades has been dropped, as well as In-View Testing for 4th graders.
The middle school got hit very hard by this year’s changes. As far as I’m concerned, the after school programs being completely removed is one of the worst ideas ever. You read that right; no more sports or clubs, at a time when getting these kids involved in something is a crucial step in developing them as young adults. The township is working on finding a way to bring some programs back, but even if they do, parents will be responsible for getting the kids home, because the only bus running after school is the detention bus. Other changes include the elimination of the School Resource Officers, General Education Summer School, and the after school remediation programs.
The high school has eliminated NJPASS Testing for freshmen and sophomores, as well as after school bus runs outside of detention. Not that they need busses, most of their programs have been taken away, including: Multi-Cultural Club, RAD (Respect, Acceptance, Dignity), Newspaper Club, SADD (Students Against Destructive Decisions), Engineering Team, Summer Weight Training, Ice Skating Club, National German Club, National Latin Club, Environmental Club (big mistake in my eyes!), Future Educators of America, and Summer Band. Several programs will stay, but they are being reduced. These include: Cooperative Education (where kids go to school part-time and work part-time), Academic Challenge Club, Key Club, Interact Club, Student Council, Football, Cross Country, Fall/Winter Cheerleading, Wrestling, Swimming, Winter/Spring Track, Softball, Baseball, and Crew.
These activities are such a huge part of high school and they teach young adults so many life lessons. Not to mention the fact that most colleges won’t even look at you unless you were an active participant in a variety of activities. I just hope these changes don’t completely ruin it for them.
I understand the need to cut corners and find ways to make ends meet, but it shouldn’t be at the expense of our children. These cuts are going to create more latchkey children, who would fare so much better if they had something to look forward to or be a part of, such as sports and clubs. On a side note; I, like a million other people my age, walked and rode my bike to and from school for years. I would rather see them cut all of the bussing (except maybe for the really little kids) and keep the after school programs. That kind of change would definitely earn an A in my book.