Woodbine students could head to Middle for high school

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WOODBINE – Some Woodbine students could attend Middle Township High School starting in September, a move that would save the Woodbine Elementary School thousands of dollars per student.

The Middle Township Board of Education approved the idea Feb. 21. It still needs the OK from the state Department of Education.

Woodbine students go to high school in Millville, making it difficult for them to take part in extracurricular activities, said Woodbine Elementary School Superintendent Lynda Anderson-Towns. Some parents also want a closer school for their children, she told the Middle Township School Board Thursday night.

“And we really think the timing is right,” said Anderson-Towns, who had worked for Middle Township School District for 14 years.

Woodbine pays about $13,000 for each Woodbine student enrolled at Millville; Middle would come in around $10,000. Transportation costs are also a factor, Anderson-Towns said.

Current Woodbine eighth-graders would attend Middle next school year, while students in ninth through 11th would continue to go to Millville so their academics would not be disrupted, she said.

The move would also benefit Middle Township High School, which has seen declining enrollment, said Middle Township School District Superintendent Michael J. Kopakowski. Having Woodbine students come to Middle would bring more money to the school’s coffers, he said. He said the high school has enough resources to handle more students.

“We’ve been very fortunate in the Woodbine School District. We’ve worked very hard,” Lynda Anderson-Towns said. “We’ve definitely been very creative with our finances.”

She said that about 84 percent of Woodbine students receive a free or reduce cost lunch.

“As a school district of course you can tell with that type of population our finances are quite challenged,” Anderson-Towns said.

One way to deal with the money woes: Sending students to Middle instead of Millville.

The eighth grade class has about 20 students and four of them applied to attend Cape May Technical High School. The rest would be enrolled at Middle Township High School.

“… I kept feeling as though the students were closer to Middle and they are Cape May County students,” she said. “That’s really what drove everything because they’re in our county.”

In the past five years, she said, eighth-graders have scored the same as or better than Middle’s on state testing.

“We have really worked hard to pull up the academic program there,” Anderson-Towns said.

Woodbine Elementary School hosts children from pre-kindergarten to eighth grade, and it is a choice school, meaning students from outside the district can attend without being an expense to parents.

Others at the Feb. 21 Board of Education meeting also backed sending Woodbine students to Middle.

Middle Township Education Association President Charlotte Sadler touted Woodbine’s school, including its curriculum.

Woodbine Vice Principal Anthony DeVico said sending kids to Middle from Woodbine makes sense involving transportation.  

“A lot of our kids are related to families in Middle Township,” he said. “So there are lots of connections here.”

Rosie Jefferson of Middle Township said that Woodbine students would be good to have in Middle.

“All we want you to do is please give our students a chance and an opportunity to excel in your school district,” said parent Sam Caraballo from Woodbine. “You’re one of the finest school districts I know, and I’m not just saying that; I didn’t go here. But I know how this school district runs. And I’m an advocate for Middle Township High School.”

Middle’s Board of Education met in a closed-door meeting to talk about the agreement; the Open Public Meetings Act allows private discussion involving with tuition and sending and receiving contracts.

Middle also has sending-receiving relationships with Dennis Township, Stone Harbor and Avalon. 

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