BOE Agrees: No School Closures, Courtesy Busing Here to Stay
Closing schools, eliminating courtesy busing not being considered, BOE agrees
All of the township's schools will remain open for the 2011-12 school year – and students who take buses will still have a ride to get to them, members of the Brick Township Board of Education agreed Tuesday night.
As part of a public forum on the school budget held at Brick Township High School, board members dispelled rumors they say creep up every budget season that school closures and the elimination of so-called "courtesy busing" are being considered under a pending spending plan.
"I don’t think they should close the schools," said board member Robert Merola. "It’s in the budget to keep them open, so let’s keep them open."
"Howell tried it, and it didn’t go over too well," said Len Cuppari, another board member, referring to the now-shuttered Southard School in that district. "Now they’re stuck with a building they can’t lease out. I don’t think now is the time to consider it."
Superintendent Walter Hrycenko said he would not recommend closing schools, but floated the idea of some redistricting in order to better balance class sizes in different schools around town.
Business Administrator James Edwards said based on current class sizes, school population levels should not be increased.
"When our enrollment was at its highest, we had unhoused students," said Edwards. "Because our enrollment has fallen [below 10,000], we are now beginning to fit within our own buildings."
An informal poll of board members showed no interest by any of the elected officials in closing any schools heading into next year.
A similar poll was conducted regarding the elimination of courtesy busing, transportation services extended to students who live within such a distance to their school where the district is not legally obligated to provide a bus. High school students up to 2.5 miles away from their school and elementary and middle school students up to 2 miles from their schools do not have to be bused.
"We have no sidewalks," in Brick, said board member Warren Wolf. "You’d have to walk in the street."
"It’s here, and I see no reason to change at this moment," agreed Board President Kim Terebush, on keeping courtesy busing.
Hrycenko added his own take on the matter, separate from budget considerations: the fact that students see their bus drivers before they see their teachers every day.
"The attitude that our bus drivers have with those students is very important because it sets the tone for the entire day," he said.