JCPS Demographic Study: Pertinent Facts re: Classroom Space

CivicParentLogo_SmallA Jersey City parent who reviewed the Board of Education’s (BOE) two demographic studies asked that I share pertinent information from the studies as it relates to the pre-K facility issue.  If you’re unfamiliar with that issue, this article in the Jersey City Independent provides background information. 

The Jersey City Public Schools (JCPS) has 28,000+ children and operates on a budget of $650+ million.  A 2-volume  study was commissioned by the BOE to help the BOE form a long-term facilities plan; Volume I was released in July 2013 and Volume II was released just this past week.  This Jersey Journal article provides helpful background / context for Part II of the study.  A series of highlights from each study are provided below.

Demographic Study, PART 1 Highlights:
(Click here to download full document.  Page numbers correspond to number at bottom of each page.)

Volume 1 explains historical growth from PreK-12th grade and outlines the methodology used to develop the projections.

  1. Over 12,000 additional housing units were projected for downtown as of the time of this report’s writing (page 5).   See page 6 for a map of those developments (12 of 17 are downtown- note 15 properties listed in table, but 17 are on the map). Since then Mayor Fulop has approved 20+ additional developments (he cited 23 additional properties across the City that are expected to go into construction in his State of the City address).
  2. Public School enrollment is expected to increase by 25% by 2017-2018, almost all in Prek-5. (page 8, 16)
  3. Only the public school system offers PreK3 and most of the buildings cannot accommodate this age group so contracted childcare centers take on a bulk of this responsibility (page 1, 4th paragraph).
  4. PreK enrollment has been suppressed because of uncertainty with space availability and uneasiness amongst parents to bus their 3 year old children to other sites (page 8).

Demographic Study, PART 2 Highlights:
(Click here to download full document.  Page numbers correspond to number at bottom of each page.)

Volume 2 provides a school-by-school and grade-by-grade forecast along with a capacity study of each school

  1. Over half of the growth in student population is concentrated downtown (page 2)
  2. PS3 and PS16 are at capacity (see table C.13 page 92-93 for PS3 and table C.16 page 95-96 for PS16) and PS5 is at 85% capacity, with most capacity in the older grades (see table C.15 page 94-95 for PS5).
  3. PS37 – the school that currently uses the building at 180 9th Street, is at 85% capacity in total, but most of this excess capacity is at the older grades.  PS 37 is over-capacity at the Pre-K grades, with 4 pre-K classrooms housed in the PS 37 “annex” at 180 9th Street (see table C.18 page 97-98 for PS37). This is the facility that may not be leased to the BOE next year due to price point differentials between the BOE and the City.
  4. The new development downtown over the past 10 years has put more pressure on downtown schools:
    • PS16 is expected to have nearly 100 PreK 3 and 4 students that will need to be accommodated starting in 2014-2015 (see page 40)
    • PS3 is expected to have over 400 PreK 3 and 4 students that will need to be accommodated starting in 2014-2015 (see page 44)
    • PS5 is expected to have almost 400 PreK 3 and 4 students that will need to be accommodated starting in 2014-2015 (see page 68)
    • PS37 is expected to have almost 200 PreK 3 and 4 students that will need to be accommodated starting in 2014-2015 (see page 70)
  5. In the short term the District is looking into (a) using space differently, (b) busing, (c) leasing, and (d) restructuring classrooms to accommodate shifts in needs (Sangeeta Ranade in the Jersey Journal on 3/14)
  6. Long term recommendations:
    1. Change schools currently housing PreK-8 to house only PreK-5 (page 25-26).
    2. Make sure rooms are right sized and properly accommodating the correct number of students (page ii).
    3. Get more Early Childhood Center (ECC) built (page ii).  Note: the NJ Schools Development Authority (SDA), the Governor’s Office, and the NJ DOE have said they will not release funding to build ECCs so the only option is to build these using District funding or contracted childcare centers.
    4. Big takeaway- a new elementary school would fill a lot of this need and there happens to be a vacant one at 180 9th Street which in great condition in our highest growth neighborhood, Hamilton Park.

Two things the City can do to help with this classroom shortage issue, particularly at the lower grade levels:

  1. Accept the District’s offer to lease 4 classrooms in the short term.
  2. Use abatement dollars to buy out the building and give it to the JCPS in the long term.

One Comment

  1. Children in grades preK-2nd from PS 23 located on Broadway are bused to Duncan Ave. Yet, no one has made an issue of this to JCBOE. PS 23 is not the only school that bus their PreK students within the district. For example, students PS 22 preK are bused from other district schools. There are also elementary schools in the district which DO NOT have a PreK program with in their physical location such as PS 27. JCBOE works collaboratively with agencies and child care providers and subcontracts to provide PreK services through out the city.

    The largest PreK provider in Jersey City for the JCBOE is soon to be defunct Jersey City Child Development Center’s Inc. (JCCDC) better known as Jersey City Head Start which provides services to 712 students under the Abbott contracting and Federal Head Start Grants. Why is the Jersey Journal worried about the 60 children in one particular school district as compared to 712 students of the number may decrease due to the loss of JCCDC’s grant. Where as the new grantee Greater Bergen Community Action Partnership (GBCAP) nor JCCDC have shared information during this period or their plans to address the concerns of the parents, staff, and members of the community.

    Will GBCAP reduce the number of PreK services to provide services for the Administration for Children & Families Office of Head Start Early Head Start Initiative (pregnancy-toddler education) with the $8,000,000 grant that was approved?

    Why did the highly regarded Jersey City Child Development Center’s loose their grant?

    Does Dr. Pat Bryant supervisor of JCBOE Early Childhood Education department know of this? Does she know that the flyer lists locations of PreK programs that are no longer open or were tentative to open, will not be open?

    Will JCCDC Executive Director former Crisis Intervention Teacher of Snyder High School Mr. Mays address the families and staff along with the phantom Board of Directors? http://www.nj.gov/education/legal/commissioner/2013/apr/145-13(dot)pdf
    There are over FOURTY PREK CLASSROOMS 712 CHILDREN whose number maybe greatly reduced who qualify for FREE PRESCHOOL that REALLY NEED ATTENTION!!!

    All information in regards to Head Start program meetings are subject to OPRA requests it is not a private entity when it is 100% funded by local and federal authorities.

    FYI: JCCDC Teachers are P-3 certified many with TOSD certifications, implement High Scope curriculum to the same standard as JCBOE PreK teachers. JCCDC educators work in collaboration with the same Lead teachers assigned to the in house PreK teachers. Although subcontracted they are still responsible and held accountable as PreK educators who teach in the JCBOE physical locations. Childcare centers and physical PreK in house classrooms ARE fully enrolled.

    I apologize for my scattered thoughts but 712 children need our help and support.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *