Jersey Shore restructuring plan’s delay worries public

JERSEY SHORE – After again announcing that the Jersey Shore Area School District’s grade restructuring plan will be delayed for two years, the school board allowed the public to ask questions and voice concerns on Monday evening.

It was announced at a recent special meeting that, after speaking with the state Department of Education, the plan – which would have moved fourth- and fifth-grade students to the middle school and eighth-grade students to the high school – would not be implemented for two years because doing so would hurt the district’s chances of receiving state reimbursement for a construction project at Jersey Shore Elementary School.

Burt Francis, borough resident, said he was disappointed the district never sought advice from the state on the plan prior to presenting it.

“You should’ve known that before,” Francis told Superintendent Richard Emery.

Emery then confirmed that he asked the state department after he received an email from a resident.

After the meeting, Emery said he receives emails every day and tries to follow up with them, which is what happened in this instance.

Beth Miller, of Watson Township, said “someone should be held responsible.” She said either the district or architect should’ve known that the project wouldn’t have been allowed with the pending construction project.

Matthew Branca, borough resident, said that although he and his wife were in favor of the plan, he was concerned with the fact that it did not address a space for students with multiple disabilities.

Branca said his oldest son has multiple disabilities and he would like the district to work in a space for those students in the restructuring plan. He added that it would be difficult for his son, and other students with multiple disabilities, to not have their own space to learn.

“Children with multiple disabilities require different support and different plans than students in life skills classrooms,” he said.

When Emery said he would speak with Krista Peterson, director of special education, on a plan, Branca said he’s been waiting two years for one.

Raye Bierly, of Piatt Township, said it “may not be a bad thing” that the plan is being delayed. She said it will allow the district to “take a step back” and re-evaluate its ideas.

“I think we have to consider all options,” she said.

That, Bierly said, includes looking at the option of selling the district service center.

After the meeting, Emery said the district has looked at the district center as a way to cut costs and will continue to look at its options.