FRHSD boundaries will remain same in ’05-06


Staff Writer

High school boundary lines in the Freehold Regional High School District will remain the same for the 2005-06 school year.

“Based on the meetings with the demographer, T&M Associates, during the past several months and meetings with my principals, as well as with my central office staff, I am recommending that we do not change any of the current boundary lines for the 2005-06 school year,” Superintendent of Schools James Wasser said. “Everything will remain the same.”

Wasser said if the Board of Education wants to make a change, then the board has to vote on that annually because it is policy.

Wasser noted that the student enrollment for the 2003-04 school year was 10,849. As of Sept. 24, the enrollment for the 2004-05 school year was 11,476 students. He said T&M Associates had projected 11,430 students for 2004-05.

The superintendent said the projections indicate the district will grow to 11,748 students in 2005-06 and then begin to flatten out. Projections indicate there will be 11,867 students in 2006-07, 12,029 students for the 2007-08 school year and 12,083 students in 2008-09.

Looking at the figures over the period, Wasser said, “We’re still within the capacities of the six high schools. That’s why I say I don’t think we should do anything this year.”

Wasser said the board should look again during the coming year and then make an assessment as to where the growth is occurring and what changes have to be made in the future.

“At this point these are what the numbers are,” he said. “However, even though it looks like we’re slowing down it doesn’t mean we can sit on it and do nothing, because the next wave will be coming five years down the road.”

Board member Terry Kraft of Howell said, “If pupil class size in one high school is impacted by more than a two- or three-seat level compared to another high school, there is an obligation to see what can be done to even that out. That is not necessarily putting on new seats. It may be changing boundary lines in order to accommodate that. The problem is when you make those kinds of arrangements you need to do it over a long enough period of time for it to be effective and for it to be warranted.”

Board member Bonnie Rosenwald of Marlboro said additional discussion is needed, but noted there are several things that have to be considered: taxes, the size and location of a new school, class size, enrollment projections and securing land for a new building.

“There are a few more components that we have to look at before we make any decisions,” she said.

Wasser said more information is needed from the FRHSD’s sending elementary districts in order to make an assessment as to what should be done. Those are the children who will be in high school four or five years from now, he said.

“One of the recommendations I am making is to continue to update the plan with either the existing demographer or another demographer,” said Wasser.

The superintendent suggested going back to the governing bodies of Manalapan, Marlboro and Howell to discuss the possibility of a donation of land from a municipality to the FRHSD for use as a site for a future high school.

“If we continue to do nothing, then we are going to answer the question ourselves and we won’t be able to build,” said Wasser. “Some of that land that we discussed is already planned for something else. It may not even be available anymore.”

Board member Diana Cappiello of Englishtown said representatives of all eight FRHSD sending municipalities should be invited to such a meeting.

In other board business, Wasser said a request by a Freehold Township High School student to twirl a fire baton at football games was being denied.

“After extensive discussion by the central office [personnel], we contacted our insurance carrier and they advised us against it because of the risk factor,” the superintendent said. “There are no schools in New Jersey that allow this particular activity, so they are advising the board that we actually not permit that to occur.”