BRICK – The district has moved ahead with the hybrid learning model of in-person and remote instruction for the school year that began on Tuesday September 8.
One group of general education students have in-person instruction on Mondays and Wednesdays while another group attends school on Tuesdays and Thursdays. All groups are remote learning on Fridays.
All school districts were required to submit plans to be reviewed and approved by the county superintendent as well as the New Jersey Department of Education (DOE) before the school year could begin.
“We were one of the first districts in the county to receive DOE approval with no revisions to our plan,” said Superintendent of Schools Dr. Thomas Farrell during the most recent virtual Board of Education meeting.
Governor Phil Murphy stated that all districts would be required to be open for in-person teaching if they met the state guidelines.
“The NJDOE states ‘In-person instruction provides students with academic, social, emotional and mental health support which cannot be provided with the same level of efficacy as remote settings,’” said Dr. Farrell.
After the governor’s most recent message, 75 percent of the district’s parents wanted some form of in-person delivery of instruction, with 95 percent of the staff saying they were able to return this fall for in-school instruction, he added.
“The staff wants to be back,” Dr. Farrell said. “This pandemic has been stressful on them as well.”
Brick meets, and in many cases exceeds, the state guidelines, the superintendent added. The governor and DOE would continue to provide guidance as conditions change, and the district needs to be prepared to adapt to those changes, he said.
“Our plan is comprehensive and inclusive,” Dr. Farrell said. “If a parent is not comfortable, they have the choice to keep their child remote or send them to school.”
Board of Education President Stephanie Wohlrab said that not all children do well in virtual classes, “no matter how talented the teacher, creative the delivery or determined the student…this is the harsh reality of a pandemic and 2020 learning.”
The total enrollment for the district is approximately 8,300 students, which includes preschoolers, Dr. Farrell said.
In other school district news, resident Vic Finelli asked about the sale of the former Laurelton School, for which an auction was held on June 24.
School Business Administrator James Edwards said the results of a professional appraisal in May said the property is worth $740,000. The June auction had 36 participants with the highest bidder offering $495,000. Subtracting the auctioneer’s fee would net about $450,000.
“You were looking for $700,000 and change and the bids were coming in at $400,000 and change? That’s a pretty big gap,” Finelli said. “Are we too high or are they too low? I know you’ve been looking to unload that property for a long time.”
Edwards said he had a discussion with the administration in regards to whether or not the district should move ahead with the sale.
“The consensus is, at this time, maybe it’s because of the pandemic, it’s just not a good time right now to try and sell the property,” Edwards said.
The administration would revisit the sale in the future, he said.
The next Board of Education meeting will be held in-person on Thursday September 24 at 7 p.m. There will be capacity limits in place due to COVID-19, Dr. Farrell said.