By NANETTE LoBIONDO GALLOWAY
MARGATE – Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, the Margate schools have experienced a nearly 10% increase in enrollment, prompting the district to review programming needs, including increasing teaching staff and consolidating administrative positions.
The district had 516 students in 2010, but enrollment dropped to 356 in 2020. Since the start of the pandemic, out-of-state property owners looking for the opportunity to have their children attend in-person classes have chosen to send their children to the Margate schools. Enrollment increased to 388 students as of Jan. 4, which prompted the administration to review staffing needs.
Margate is one of the only school districts in the state that is offering full in-person instruction.
According to Superintendent Thomas Baruffi, who is serving his last year as interim superintendent, the district is currently advertising for a part-time special education teacher and may appoint someone at the next Board of Education meeting on Feb. 3.
In his report to the board Wednesday, Jan. 13, Baruffi said the district has maintained its small class size but after reviewing staffing needs, the district decided it would hire a part-time special education teacher.
William H. Ross School Principal Audrey Becker said the new hire would provide additional instruction to students who need it.
“We are finding some of our new students have some needs we need to address, and likewise, some of our long-term students experiencing last year’s remote learning are struggling also. That additional need for our students is what led to us requesting more special ed support,” she said.
Becker also said the elementary school is focusing on teaching students to be independent learners.
Baruffi said there would be changes to the administrative team starting in the 2021-2022 school year. In addition to his leaving the school district, Supervisor of Instruction Loreen Cohen will be retiring. However, instead of replacing two administrators, positions would be consolidated and only one hired. Baruffi did not say which positions would be combined. However, the superintendent post will be filled in-house, he said.
Eugene A. Tighe School Principal Ryan Gaskill reported the school is keeping a watchful eye on safety as children attend classes during the pandemic. The school recently started an intramural basketball program for students in grades five-eight; however, students will be required to wear masks while playing.
Baruffi also reported that a “couple of students” tested positive for COVID-19 over winter break but that contact tracing and quarantining was not necessary. The district’s nursing staff has been vaccinated in Phase 1A of New Jersey’s vaccine distribution protocol, he said.
“We are hoping educators will be included as essential workers and included in the 1B group,” he said.
As a high performing school district, the administration was notified that the QSAC monitoring review scheduled to be held this year will be postponed to the 2023-2024 school year, he said. The move would ease the burden on state monitors during the pandemic.
Copyright Mediawize, LLC 2020