BARNEGAT – Superintendent Dr. Brian Latwis meant it when he said they district would “hit pause” on the reconfiguration of the Barnegat School District if parents continued to oppose the idea. A letter was sent out to district parents on March 25 that announced the administration’s plan to delay the implementation of the reconfiguration.
“With sensitivity to our community and a “One Barnegat” mentality, the administrative team and the Board of Education have made the decision to delay the reconfiguration implementation from the originally proposed date of September 2019,” read the letter.
The letter quickly began making the rounds on social media, stirring up varied responses from local parents. Many expressed excitement and relief over the delay, marking it as a win for district parents.
Superintendent Latwis told Jersey Shore Online that, while administration is “hitting pause” on the reconfiguration, this does not mean they are scrapping the plan completely.
“If it’s a good idea now, it’ll be a good idea a year from now,” he said.
To review, the reconfiguration would transform the district from four separate elementary schools, a middle school, and a high school into “one unified district” that would have Barnegat students matriculating through each school every couple of years.
The motivation for delaying the implementation of this plan is due mainly to consistent parental concerns. While Latwis estimates feedback on the plan to be about 50/50 for and against, he felt that there was a consistent thread of concern among parents that the district was going about the plan too quickly.
“We’re just slowing down the process,” said Latwis, noting that this will not only give parents more time to adjust but also provide them with the opportunity to get more involved and have their voices heard.
The letter also detailed the addition of a District Improvement Panel that parents can join to be more involved “in problem-solving, implementation-planning, and reviewing the proposal in more detail.”
The District Improvement Panel will be made up of sub-committees focused on different aspects of the proposal including transportation, equity and resources, promotions, transitions and social/emotional wellbeing, athletics and extracurricular activities.
“During these panel meetings, we will discuss advantages and concerns openly, transparently, and together,” stated the district.
Parents interested in getting involved should contact firstname.lastname@example.org and state their name and which committee they wish to join.
As Latwis explained, the reconfiguration was the district’s “bold move” to address poor performance numbers in the district while improving enrichment opportunities for students.
The Department of Education recently released the 2017-2018 School Performance Reports, which place some of Barnegat’s schools in the lowest percentiles in the state.
The report indicates that Cecil S. Collins School, ranking highest out of the district’s six schools, still only falls into the 40th percentile. The Joseph T. Donahue School falls to the bottom in the 5th percentile.
“Our kids are struggling and nobody’s trying to hide that,” Latwis said in a previous interview with Jersey Shore Online.
Reconfiguration was the administration’s big move to change and improve the way students are learning.
For more information on the reconfiguration and to view Frequently Asked Questions, parents can visit barnegatschools.com/news/what_s_new/reconfig_information.