Mainland Choice School Program to accept up to 25 students

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LINWOOD – It is an exciting time to be a student and a staff member at Mainland Regional High School.

While the district is just coming off its most extensive renovation project in decades giving the nearly 51-year-old school a whole new lease on life, the district is also looking forward and embracing new opportunities.

Last week MRHS learned it had been given state approval to be a Choice School beginning with the 2013-’14 school year. District Superintendent Tom Baruffi said it was a long process to apply for and get approved to be a Choice School. They plan to welcome 25 incoming freshmen in the fall.

The state Department of Education approved MRHS as an Interdistrict Public School Choice participant. What that means is students living outside of the Mainland sending districts of Linwood, Northfield and Somers Point will have an opportunity to attend the school regardless of their home school district. There are 106 Choice Schools in the state.

“Like all the other important developments that have happened at Mainland, the administration carefully researched the cost and benefits of joining the Choice Program,” said Nathan Lichtenwalner, a supervisor and the Choice Program coordinator at MRHS. “It is clear that we have a lot to gain and we’re excited to offer more students an opportunity to join the Mustang family.”

The superintendent said they will test the waters slowly and carefully.

They will accept up to 25 non-resident students who will be entering ninth grade in the fall of the 2013-’14 school year. Baruffi said bringing that number of students in for the first year will give the school a good indication of how the Choice Program will work at MRHS.

Should more than 25 students want to attend MRHS, then the school will institute a random lottery system that will give each student an equal opportunity to attend Mainland.

If that works well the first year, they will determine exactly how to expand as they go forward.

Each student’s home school district will provide the transportation to MRHS as long as the student lives within 20 miles of the school.

Baruffi said the timing was good for MRHS to consider welcoming new students to the district.

“Our construction project is completed, we have the room and it is a revenue-generating program,” said the superintendent.

High School Principal Mark Marrone is excited about the possibilities of the Choice Program.

“We offer a well-rounded program that would benefit any student,” Marrone said. “With the success of our new academic schedule, technology advances, and creation of a student-centered learning environment, we’re excited about the concept of opening our doors to others in the area that may also benefit.”

Baruffi is not new to the Choice School Program. In 1999, when he was the superintendent in Folsom, the district became one of the first 10 Choice districts in New Jersey.

“Choice helped keep Folsom on the map by offsetting some drastic funding cuts,” Baruffi said. “Applying for Choice status may not be an option in every district, but at this time, we believe it’s a good option for us.

“We have the space and participating in the program creates a new revenue source that can help maintain programs and offset taxes,” Baruffi continued. “When weighing our fiscal responsibility against program offerings, this just makes sense.”

There is no screening process for applicants interested in attending MRHS. The application form is on the district website The only information asked beyond name and address is whether the incoming student has an up to date IEP or a 504 plan.

 MRHS will explain the Choice Program at an open house for interested parents and students 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 27. They will hear about programs take tours of the school.


Timeline for families considering attending MRHS

Sept. 27 – Choice Program open house

Nov. 2 – Interested students-parents must complete and submit a notice of intent to participate to their home district by Nov. 2, 2012. The form can be found on MRHS website.

Dec. 3 – Application for admission is due back to MRHS, also available on the district website.

If there are more than 25 students and parents considering attending MRHS, a lottery will be held sometime between Dec. 3 and Dec. 21.

For more information see the district website,  


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