Hopatcong Superintendent Arthur DiBenedetto provides reasoning to Close Hudson Maxim School

Hopatcong Hudson Maxum School

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The following is a recap of the Hopatcong Superintendent Arthur DiBenedetto public meeting and why he will be recommending that Hudson Maxim be shut down in September 2019, and the students transfer to Durban Ave school.

Overview of the 11/29/2018 Public Meeting:

Significant Changes are taking place: Talking about realities…

  • In the last 10 years enrollment in the district has gone down by 34%
    1. People are having less children
    2. The population of the town until recently was getting older, that’s changing now
    3. Every morning 266 kids go to a school other than Hopatcong School District
      • The Choice Schools are draining our enrollment to an extent that is uncomfortable, which means that your district must compete with our neighboring districts.
      • At a time when so much is going on with state aid going down, we are faced with the need to increase our programs and scope in the areas of career and collage training. That’s a tough balancing act.

We have seen a 61% increase per pupil cost over the last 10 years due to program expansion, transportation and services (61% up in costs and 34% down in enrollment denotes some inefficiencies in operations, which will be studied deeply and corrected)

We currently have 3,268 available seats in the district. Last year our attendance was 1,608 students, which means that we are working at less than 50% capacity. This is an Inefficiency and needs to be corrected.

State aid with be cut significantly from our current $10M to $2M over a 6-year period.

This school year we are faced with a $611,000 decrease in state aid, which we were able to get back, but it must be used only for capital projects.

Next year the cut of state aid will be $1,149,000 for the 2019/20 school year. All large districts that have declining enrollment are in the same position.

Hudson Maxim school that was built in 1908 and has served the town royally

The problem with Hudson Maxim is that it lacks certain facilities: smaller classrooms, cafeteria is lacking and has no bathrooms, small playground with safety concerns like no fencing. The building is on a 2 acres site with no room for additions. The building is maxed out, with no support for some of the younger families moving in with kids.

There is a potential that this building could be sold to a contractor.

With the state aid cuts, I cannot cut teachers, so I will have to cut administrator positions. All teachers from Hudson Maxim will continue to have a job in the district.

The reality is that Hudson Maxim is a great school not because of the facility, but because the teachers, students and families that use the school.

I will be recommending to the Board of Education that the Hudson Maxim be shut down next September and operations moved to Durban Ave that will be the site of Preschool, K, and grade 1.

The District expects to save $350,000 a year in costs when they close the school.

Special thanks to Ruth Schepartz Fouda for her live recording of the event.

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