District Rededicates Morris Avenue School

School was redesigned this summer


The Morris Avenue School was transformed this summer, so the Long Branch School District felt it was fitting to rededicate the school Wednesday morning.

The school was officially renamed the Morris Avenue School after originally being called the Amerigo A. Anastasia School since it opened in 1973. When the district opened the new Amerigo A. Anastasia School, the school became known as the Morris Avenue School.

The pre-K to second grade school, located at 318 Morris Avenue, Long Branch, originally featured an open air, pod-style design, has been redesigned to make it more modern and to improve the learning experience for children.

The project, which was completed on Aug. 24, transformed the school which now features separate classrooms and hallways. The former design featured four pods separated by dividers that contained four classrooms each.

"For the first time, the Morris Avenue School has a quiet learning environment," Principal Matthew Johnson said at the rededication.

A New Jersey Supreme Court Abbott XXI ruling on school funding provided the school with the money for the project.

Long Branch School District Facilities Manager Ann Degnan said a bulk of the $725,000 project was done by McCauley Construction Company Inc. and other aspects, mostly exterior renovations, were done by another company hired by the district.

Long Branch School District Superintendent Michael Salvatore said he was pleased with the new design.

"It has always been a great school, but now it really shines," Salvatore said.

Peter Koenig October 17, 2012 at 09:19 PM
I find it distasteful when District officials take "credit" for Abbott funding. Would it be amiss to mention why the Supreme Court of New Jersey mandated additional funds for Long Branch schools? It wasn't because the schools were performing well, or even adequately.
Big Whitey October 18, 2012 at 01:31 AM
Peter, I think we get so much money because we are educating so many children of illegal immigrants . If it wasnt for the Mexican and Brazilian population, we would need 1 school. What a sham our schools are here in LB. The money we spend is obscene for the results we get.
Debbi Horvath Watson October 18, 2012 at 12:20 PM
First of all, unless you are a full blooded Native American, you are an immigrant as well. I think the 'immigrants', are what make long branch a diverse and stimulating experience for the kids. They don't see color and race until ignorance is taught to them. My 1st grader has started the talented and gifted program this year and I believe that if it weren't for all the 'immigrants' we would not have funding to start these important programs for our kids. I have spoken to parents in financially well off, predominantly 'white' districts and they wish they had half the programs we have. IF YOU WANT BETTER RESULTS, GET MORE INVOLVED IN YOUR KIDS EDUCATION AND STOP BLAMING IMMIGRANTS.
Peter Koenig October 18, 2012 at 01:28 PM
I respectfully disagree - in part. IMHO, per DOE statistics, LB's schools have long performed poorly when compared with other Districts in the same District Factor Group ("DFG") - that is, compared with other Districts that have similar socioeconomic conditions. There are no reliable statistics for the percentage of children of illegal immigrants in LB schools, but anecdotally I think it's quite small. I agree that vast sums have been spent in recent years, yielding no appreciable improvement. It is stunning that most of the same people (or their hand-picked successors) are still running LB schools: they tell us that everything is splendid and getting better; they never admit publicly that there is anything wrong. As shown by this story (and the school naming policies, and the plaque inside the HS), they actually claim credit for State aid - which was mandated by law because our schools provide an inadequate education, and which, in their hands, has failed to achieve material improvement.
Peter Koenig October 18, 2012 at 01:40 PM
Well said, ma'am. This is not an "immigrant" or racial or ethnic issue; we should all be active in vetting the curricula, the administration's activities (and qualifications), and the purposes to which funds are devoted. I also agree emphatically about the value of diversity. I do differ re opportunities for gifted students, however. In the past, every student (regardless of potential) was forced into remedial-level "whole school reform" programs in LB. I suggest you check out the DOE statistics on LB's performance - particularly the percentage of students scoring "advanced proficient" on grade-level tests, and the appalling failure rate of LBHS students on AP exams. Compare those statistics to other DFG B Districts, as well as the State as a whole. Try this experiment: ask a LB administrator how many LB students were accepted at Ivy League colleges in the last decade. They will refuse to answer. Ask them how many LB students achieved a grade of 5 on an AP test - any subject - in the last decade. They won't tell you. Ask them how many LB students fail the ASK-3; that's coming in two years for your child. They don't want to talk about it. Ask them for how many consecutive years the LBMS has failed to make adequate yearly progress. ... Ask them anything of substance, and gauge their reactions for yourself.
Debbi Horvath Watson October 18, 2012 at 02:25 PM
Peter, I agree with the performance of the school district. I also have a 26 year old that the district failed miserably. He came into the district in Middle School and was very smart but had gaps in his education due to changing schools from across the country and the child study team did nothing. Because of that fact, I was considering private school for my daughter but decided to give the 3yr old preschool a try. My daughter was reading entire books mid-year. They are in the process of replacing the curriculum in the grammar schools now because the kids are coming out of the preschool program too smart for the kindergarten curriculum. The "no child left behind" strategy is good for the falling behind, but holds back the smarter ones. That is why we HAVE to stay on top of them and make sure they are addressing OUR children's needs. I believe that there are children in the gifted program that are there because their parents pushed for it to get their kids up to a higher level. No school is perfect, no district is perfect, we have to take the good with the bad and make sure that we stay engaged as parents to know what is going on in the classrooms.
DaTaxMan October 18, 2012 at 09:07 PM
I'm just glad they didn't name this school after another livig administrator....
Big Whitey October 18, 2012 at 09:25 PM
Peter, all your points are well taken. I have no children in LB, Thank God. But you can not say the large immigrant population is not increasing costs substantially. And Debbie, no where am I putting immigrants down. To the contrary, they are a wonderful addition to the community. My point is I dont like paying to educate them. You want to, you pay, but please stop making me. I am sure there are a few great teachers in LB, and they probably are on the bottom of the pay scale. But thats it, the rest of them, its like a club. Summers off, almost free healthcare, I can go on and on. Like the plumber that got fired. Do we need a plumber? Who the Hell else we paying?
Debbi Horvath Watson October 18, 2012 at 10:13 PM
Big Whitey, I must have misunderstood your comment. I don't like paying for 'illegals' either, but after 9/11 it is very hard to become 'legal'. That one is on the government. I will pay, because I actually want to stay in the district. I would say you could move, but not only would that sound confrontational, which is not my intent, but you would still be paying for someone's education, no matter where you went. What about the of people who own rental properties here, live in different towns and use the rental address to keep thier kids in this district. That creates the need for more schools and they are some of the ones crying for more funding as well. As far as the teachers go I do agree that there are some better than others and I do not believe in tenure. I would prefer a fresh out of school teacher who knows her stuff and is hungry to teach than a tired teacher that is just coasting toward retirement with no fear of losing her job for not teaching properly.
Peter Koenig October 19, 2012 at 01:48 PM
For me, the continuing crisis in LB schools isn't about the ethnic composition of the student body - it's about the nature and quality of the curriculum, and the continuing refusal of the LB administration (and most though not all of the School Board) to admit there are problems. Respectfully, I doubt there are a significant number of "out of towners" who use LB rental addresses ro gain admission to LB schools. Given the District's poor performance, one would be foolish to do so. Big Whitey: in my opinion and experience in LB, most (not all) of what we considered the best teachers had significant teaching experience and were frustrated by District policies. And there were (and are) some truly good teachers here; God bless them for their efforts and perseverance. I'm glad this article has stimulated at least some discussion on these issues of public concern. Curious that no one from the School Board or administration has addressed the poor test scores, existing problems, etc. Curious? Maybe not; that's been the attitude for far too long.
Big Whitey October 19, 2012 at 07:46 PM
Peter and Debbi, it is good we are at least talking about this topic. We need to get people on the Board who care about taxpayers, and not the cronyism. Why the Hell did they name a school after Feraina and Giambrone. Are they super volunteeers or something?
Big Whitey October 19, 2012 at 07:47 PM
And someone should post what the budget is. Forty one million? Am I correct? And how many kids do we educate?


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