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School funding, segregation, educational equity.

November 6, 2019

Principal Joseph Potkay spoke at a recent Freeholder meeting, to clarify what he said was misinformation regarding the application process at ACIT. I'm glad he did. We need to hear all sides of the situation in order to come up with a process that benefits the majority of Atlantic County students, residents and taxpayers.

 

There are so many issues that have come out of this discussion, and they are getting lost in the fog. From Absecon wanting to secede from the Pleasantville High School, to Hamilton Township's enormous tax adjustment to compensate for sending students to ACIT, to school segregation, to ACIT's not having to conform to a 2% cap on year over year spending as all other schools must do, to the carrying costs of expansion as opposed to the "grant-funded" capital available. Pleasantville's Board of Education recently passed a resolution demanding a slow-down of the proposed expansion at ACIT until studies can be completed which will enable data-driven decisions rather than those based on opinion and feelings.

 

I'm not a member of the Education Committee of the Freeholder Board, and so don't have first-hand information of those conversations. We do have minutes of the committee's meeting, attached here.

 

No one is questioning the quality of programming at ACIT. But the funding model is old school (no pun), and it's time for a revision. The success of ACIT related to school integration makes a good argument for a county-wide high school district. I'd like to see that as part of this discussion.

 

Let's move ahead with forward thinking instead of same-old. Atlantic can be the County in New Jersey that drives a new educational model in the state, not only providing education for future learning and career needs, but addresses the problem of school segregation in New Jersey which is the 4th most segregated state in the Union.

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