BERKELEY – Central Regional School District’s School Choice program, where they take in students from other towns, has continued even through the COVID-19 restrictions, officials said.
New Jersey’s Interdistrict Public School Choice Program enables families to send their children to a school without any cost to the family. The state pays the tuition. Any New Jersey student can apply, and the application goes to the district, rather than the state. The district has to follow guidelines in order to remain in the program.
“School Choice has been a tremendous success at Central Regional,” Superintendent Triantafillos Parlapanides said. “Once a student is accepted as a Choice Student they become a Central Regional student so they are in the same hybrid system we are using now.”
“We have 89 students from other districts that help generate roughly $1.3 million a year,” he said. The state limits the district to 89 students, so they are at their max for the program.
The School Choice funding has been used for the new track and turf field, and in the past has helped start the JROTC Program and the Humanities Academy, he said.
“We use School Choice funds to pay for free PSAT testing for all juniors, the district-wide new phone system, new stadium lights, middle school fire system, textbooks, band uniforms, new buses,” and more, he said. “The School Choice funds help us not have to go out for a referendum and fix the school and purchase items that benefit the students.”
Central is already a regional district – taking students from Berkeley, Ocean Gate, Island Heights, Seaside Heights and Seaside Park. Bringing in students from even further regions improves opportunities for them and brings people of different backgrounds and perspectives together to learn from each other.
Students in the School Choice program at Central can start in seventh grade. In high school, they can take part of programs such as the Junior ROTC or Humanities Academy, which involves a partnership where Georgian Court University professors teach on the Central campus. If a student starts the Humanities Academy as a freshman, they can graduate high school with 30 college credits free of charge.
Choice programs often have smaller class sized, increased instruction time, or other opportunities.