Abbott funds bought lots of bricks and mortar

Funding also helped attract top teachers, paid for computers


Staff Writer

PHOTOSBY CHRISKELLYstaff Contruction of the new $59.7 million Long Branch High SChool is slated to be completed in time for the 2006-07 school year.PHOTOSBY CHRISKELLYstaff Contruction of the new $59.7 million Long Branch High SChool is slated to be completed in time for the 2006-07 school year. What has Abbott school district funding purchased in Long Branch?

According to Long Branch Schools Superintendent Joseph M. Ferraina, that money has bought plenty.

Among other things, it has resulted in new facilities, programs and additional staffing in the district, which has nine school facilities: a preschool, three K-2 schools, three grades 3-5 schools, a middle school and a high school.

A new $19.5 million Amerigo A. Anastasia School will replace the dated facility currently in use.A new $19.5 million Amerigo A. Anastasia School will replace the dated facility currently in use. “The state program has enabled Long Branch to upgrade and build state-of-the-art facilities for our children,” Ferraina said.

“The enhancement of the science labs and technology centers in our new facilities will broaden the scope for all students today, as well as prepare them for the future.”

There are currently eight school facilities being built and/or renovated in the city using Abbott funds, according to Ferraina.

Since its inception, Abbott spending in Long Branch has helped, or will help, fund:

• $1.7 million renovation project at Gregory School in 2000.

• $19.5 million renovation project at A.A. Anastasia Elementary School.

• $50.8 million renovation project at the Long Branch Middle School.

• $59.7 million renovation project at Long Branch High School.

• $23.7 million (bid amount) for construction of a new Gregory Elementary School.

Long Branch School District ProjectsLong Branch School District Projects • $14 million each for renovation and addition projects to the Elberon and Lenna W. Conrow elementary schools.

• $24 million (estimated) for the construction of a new Clark Elementary School.

In addition, funding has also come from the Abbott District Early Childhood Program for the preschool program, which Ferraina says now serves 760 students.

The state calculates the amount of money needed for the preschool program by using U.S. Census data, according to Ferraina, who said 93.3 percent of the city’s 3- and 4-year-olds are enrolled in the program.

“The money spent is necessary to address this need and to meet state mandates associated with the preschool program,” he explained.

During the 2001-2002 school year, then Commissioner of Education Vito A. Gagliardi Sr. implemented the “Teach New Jersey, Reach the World” initiative for first-year teachers, Ferraina said.

The program was established to attract highly qualified teachers to teach in Abbott school districts, according to Ferraina.

Eligible teachers received either $1,750 if their grade point average (GPA) ranged from 2.75 to 2.99 or $3,000 if their GPA was over 3.0.

According to Ferraina, other district initiatives made possible by the Abbott program include:

• Funding to provide computer labs, at least one wireless lab and Internet access in each building.

• Funding to institute two technology programs recommended by the Department of Education to supplement reading and mathematics instruction using what Ferraina called a diagnostic-prescriptive approach.

• The Alternate School Program, implemented in 1990 and expanded in 1995, that serves special education students and at-risk students in need of an alternative program.

• Raising the base salary, including benefits, for a teacher with a bachelor’s degree for the 2004-05 school year to approximately $51,620 (salary $41,620 and approximately $10,000 in benefits). The average teacher salary for the current school year is $61,337 (salary only).

The Long Branch school district will spend $24,487,525 on teacher salaries for the 2004-05 school year, Ferraina said.

In coming years, Ferraina said Abbott funding will be used for several other projects and programs, including the following:

• All fifth-grade students will receive their own personal laptop computers.

• Middle school students will have access to the Learning Express Computer Program.

• A summer enrichment camp.

• Before- and after-school tutoring.

• Achieve 3000 KidBiz Computer Program.

“Abbott funding enables us to maintain or make adjustments to our programs,” Ferraina said.