Budget cuts lead Jersey City schools to slash some sports programs

Budget cuts lead Jersey City schools to slash some sports programs
New Jersey SEEDS Scholars and Young Scholars Graduates Head off to the Nations Top Selective Middle and High Schools
When Jersey City public school students head back to classes next week, theyll find that a host of sports programs have been slashed due to budget cuts.

The 29,000-student district has cut all freshman athletic teams and reduced the number of assistant coaches. Freshmen will remain eligible for varsity and junior varsity teams. Golf and bowling teams are cut entirely.

“Congratulations to our Scholars and Young Scholars in the Class of 2018!” says John F. Castano, Executive Director of NJ SEEDS. “I am proud of all that these talented students have accomplished in the past 14 months with SEEDS. Not only did they attend two summer sessions and class each Saturday during the school year with us, but they maintained high grades in their home schools and continued with all of their extracurricular activities and leadership positions. They are dedicated to their educations and to ensuring that they are making the most of the opportunities now accessible to them because of their time with SEEDS.”

Science Park, North Star Academy Best High Schools in Newark

The cuts came after the district had to close a $70 million shortfall earlier this year. The state, meanwhile, took back more than $5 million in expected aid. The cuts to athletics represent about $1 million, according to Sudhan Thomas, the school board president.

PR Newswire – New Jersey SEEDS Scholars and Young Scholars Graduates Head off to the Nations Top Selective Middle and High Schools

The changes have angered parents and students. Ariana Ortiz, 17, is beginning her senior year at High Tech High School. The county school system no longer has athletic programs so students there join teams with their home school districts.

ABOUT NEW JERSEY SEEDSFor more than 25 years, New Jersey SEEDS has provided educational access for highly motivated, low-income students and created a viable path for them to achieve their full potential. SEEDS strives for a world in which young peoples initiative, creativity and intellect can flourish without regard to socioeconomic status. Since SEEDS founding in 1992, more than 2,500 scholars have graduated from its programs. For more information, visit www.njseeds.org.

Ortiz runs track for Dickinson High School. She said the teams have lost assistant coaches and there is now a cap on the number of athletes who can join. She told The Jersey Journal she worries about what this means for some of the girls who arent naturally gifted but like being part of the team.

Ninety-eight percent of Scholars and Young Scholars have been placed in selective middle schools and high schools with enough financial aid to allow them to matriculate, attending schools in New Jersey and 13 additional states across the country. Enrolling students will receive more than $5 million from these partner institutions.

“A lot of the girls on my team have nowhere to go after school,” she said. “If they dont do something productive, theyre on the street.”

Andy Kemp, who works for Jersey Citys recreation department, was blunt when speaking to school board members at their meeting Thursday.

The budget problems for the district are just beginning. Between now and 2025, the state is slashing a form of aid that is worth $174 million. About half of that is expected to be offset by a local payroll tax, but that tax plan has yet to win approval from the City Council. Business groups are staunchly opposed to the tax and are lobbying council members to defeat it.

“Each decision has been made with an eye to ensure that we provide the most and best that we can for our students within our shrinking budget,” Dickar told The Jersey Journal. “Despite the tough financial decisions we have had to make, the district is committed to continuing the progress we have made over the last few years.”

The school board on Thursday voted to task its finance committee with finding $1 million in the budget to restore any cut athletic programs.

“The board will review these changes … to see if there is any scope of roll-back or cost sharing with other bodies for the preservation of these programs if possible,” Thomas told The Jersey Journal.

Terrence T. McDonald may be reached at tmcdonald@jjournal.com. Follow him on Twitter @terrencemcd. Find The Jersey Journal on Facebook.

Newark's Science Park High School was the best public high school in Newark in New Jersey Monthly's ranking of the state's 305 best high schools.

The magnet school ranked 53 overall in New Jersey, moving up 26 places from 2016, the last time the magazine ranked high schools across the state.

Newark had a total of six high schools in this year's list with Technology coming in at 255, Arts at 275, American History at 280 and East Side at 303. East Side was the only comprehensive Newark Public School to make the list.

New Jersey Monthly used data from the state Department of Education’s most recent New Jersey School Performance Reports (covering the 2016-2017 school year). The magazine said only public high schools were included in the rankings.

The top high school in the state was McNair Academic, a magnet high school in Jersey City. The top high schools in Essex County were Millburn, coming in third overall in the state, followed by Livingston at eight, Glen Ridge at 23 and Verona at 24.

The magazine used Leflein Associates, an independent research company in Ringwood, to analyze the data. Leflein grouped the data into three categories: school environment, student performance and student outcomes.

The analysis looked at a variety of factors including student/teacher ratio; number of AP and/or International Baccalaureate (IB) subjects offered; percentage of 11th- and 12th-grade students taking at least one AP or IB test in any subject; total number of AP or IB tests taken as a percentage of total 11th- and 12th- grade students; and percentage of students grades 9-12 taking at least one course in visual or performing arts.

The analysis also looked at the percentage of students scoring at or above the benchmark for the math SAT; percentage of students scoring at or above the benchmark for the reading and writing SAT; and the percentageof students scoring a 3 or higher on AP tests or 4 or higher on IB tests.

Finally, the analysis took into account four-year graduation rates and the percentage of graduates enrolled in a two- or four-year college 16 months after graduating from the high school.

U.S. News and World Report earlier this year released a similar ranking of the best high schools in the United States. In Newark, North Star Academy took first place in Newark and ranked 13th overall in New Jersey. Science Park ranked second in Newark and 56th overall in the state.

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NEWARK, NJ – City council today approved a set of resolutions that both supported medical marijuana dispensaries and recommended where they should be located in Newark.

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