Bayonne bucked the trend in Hudson County for per student spending, reducing the overall costs to educate a child, although administrative and faculty salaries rose significantly.
Cost per student for a public education in Bayonne dropped by more than $700, although the median administrative salary rose by more than $5,000 from last year to now, according to the state report cards on schools issued last week.
The median faculty salaries rose by more than $10,000 during the same period, the report said.
But this percentage comparison of salaries and benefits showed that overall administrative costs declined by 6 percent in Bayonne, as opposed to the state average increase of 4 percent.
Since 1995, school districts are required to supply specific, detailed information that includes class size, the average salaries of teachers and administrators, and how students faired on standardized tests.
“We’re well below state averages in most areas.” – Leo Smith
The report issued this year contained data for the 2009-2010 school year. Enrollment numbers are based as of Oct. 15, 2009.
The Bayonne district has a slightly larger class size at 19.5, compared to the state average of 18.2.
The Bayonne school district was slightly behind the state average for school attendance at 94 percent, verses the state average of 94.6 percent. But this was an improvement from the previous year, when Bayonne’s rate was 93.8 percent.
In language arts and literacy in elementary schools, Bayonne exceeded the state average for proficiency and made improvements from the previous year in the advanced level. In mathematics, the district exceeded state averages. Middle school grade levels saw similar results. Bayonne High School scored significantly higher than the state average in language arts and mathematics: 77.8 percent to 69.3 percent in language arts, and 60.3 percent to 50.7 percent in mathematics. Bayonne also exceeded the state average in graduation rates, 97.7 to 94.7 percent.
Bayonne also showed a lower percentage of administrators and faculty compared to the total student population than the state average.
While Bayonne exceeded the state average of administrators, it also had a higher number of schools than average.
“We made progress,” Smith said. “We’re well below state averages in most areas, and the overall cost per pupil for a public education in here is down. We are keeping our costs in line, and looking for new ways to save money.”
High marks for constitutional presenters
Students involved in the We the People: The Citizen and the Constitution Competition made the state finials, finishing third in the state on Feb. 4, and represented the 13th Congressional District.
“They were only two points away from finishing second,” McGeehan said. “They were phenomenal. The competition was held at the State House in Trenton, and our students distinguished themselves by finishing third.”
She said the team was pitted against some teams elsewhere in the state that have Advanced Placement courses, which allow students to prepare for the competition.
Unlike some of the other schools, Bayonne’s team was comprised of sophomores, relatively young compared with those they competed against.
Schools Superintendent Dr. Patricia McGeehan said the group will come to the Board of Education meeting on Feb. 24 to give the board a demonstration of what they did.
The students delivered a formal presentation on constitutional issues in the New Jersey State Simulated Legislative hearing for high school students.
We the People, sponsored by the Center for Civic Education, was established in 1987 and is the largest civic education program in the county. It is funded through a congressional appropriation to the U.S. Department of Education.
Prior to the state finals, Bayonne High School students participated in the New Jersey Northern Regional Simulated Legislative Hearings, which were held at Seton Hall University on Jan. 13. Bayonne advanced to the finals.
Nearly all of the other 12 teams against which Bayonne competed on the state level have Advanced Placement courses, from which the other teams are selected, McGeehan said.
Each team is divided up into six units, each composed of three or more students. Each unit focuses on a particular area of constitutional interest – such as the Bill of Rights or the role of the citizen in American democracy.
In preparation for the competition, each unit prepares three, four-minute speeches in response to formal prompts. On the day of the competition, each unit was asked to present one of their speeches, and a panel of three judges had a six-minute questioning period to ask follow-up questions.
The students were scored on their understanding of the topic, constitution application, reasoning, supportive evidence, responsiveness, and participation.
All of the students from Bayonne are enrolled in U.S. I classes at Bayonne High School. Students prepared for their roles as experts and testified on constitution issues in a simulated congressional hearing, which was held at the Ann Herbert Board Meeting Room.
The students involved with the program are Salman Ali, Jan-Alfred Aquino, Gregory Bednarowicz, Sara Boutrs, Daniel Brown, Su Jin Cappello, Charmaine Castro, Keington Chen, Matthew Chiaravalloti, Mark D’Agostino, Corryn DeFazio, Jenny Duong, Jordan Elam, Nicole Garzon, Anthony Golden, Aassem Hadiouche, Jack Long, Jasmine Mahmoud, Marina Makram, Michael Merrick, Sandra Miranda, Florence Moonsawmy, Garbrielle Nalewajek, Joshua Octaviano, Shivangi Parmar, Julie Petulla, Maureen Samy, Amanda Sarria, Sea Shaeen, Mina Shnoudah, Jessica Sroczynski, Danika Tablante, Antastsia Turin, Alexander Vaillant, and Daniel Veronese.
Meanwhile, the Bayonne Mock Trial team finished first in Hudson County, but did not achieve as well on the state level competitions earlier this month, McGeehan said.
“We competed against all 12 Hudson County schools, and we came in first,” McGeehan said. “But on the state level, we did not achieve as well as we did on the county.”
Al Sullivan may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.