District and community prepare to move forward, together, to continue progress for Newark students.
[Newark, NJ – January 31, 2018] – Tomorrow, after more than two decades of State intervention, Newark Public Schools (NPS) will be officially returned to local control. Superintendent Christopher Cerf announced in December that he would resign, effective February 1, 2018, as the last state-appointed Superintendent of the Newark Public Schools. Following this announcement, the School Board voted to appoint Deputy Superintendent Robert Gregory to serve as interim Superintendent while a national search is conducted. The Newark Board of Education will assume full authority of the Newark schools on February 1, 2018.
“I believe that the City of Newark is prepared for local control,” noted Superintendent Christopher Cerf. “In the last few years, the conversation in this city has become more and more focused on our central goal – to improve life outcomes for Newark Students,” Cerf continued. “It is that collective focus by thousands of individuals – educators, community members, city leaders and others - that has created momentum in our schools and the undeniable progress being made by Newark students. I have great confidence that as this transition moves forward, school district and elected leaders will continue to work together to build on the foundation that has been put in place to make Newark Schools a model for the country.”
On Tuesday, December 19, the Commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Education (NJDOE) approved the transition plan that allows for the Advisory Board to become the official Newark Board of Education on February 1, 2018. The plan, which was presented to the board at a public meeting in December, provides the board the full authority and responsibilities afforded to local school boards on February 1, and includes a detailed timeline and set of milestones to guide the district’s transition over a period of two years. The search for a new superintendent will be headed by a seven person committee made up of school board members and Newark stakeholders. The plan, an accompanying letter from the commissioner, and a presentation shared at the meeting are available at the NPS website.
“I want to thank Superintendent Cerf for his service. I look forward to working with the Newark Public Schools and the Newark Community as we move forward into this next phase,” added Mayor Ras J. Baraka. “Newark is on the rise and the return of local control, along with the progress our students are making, is one more example of how this city is on an upward trajectory.”
In returning the district to local control, the State board of education cited substantial progress made in recent years as core to their decision. These points of progress include (Also available in attached document):
- Since 2011 the district’s graduation rate has improved nearly 20 percentage points, from the high 50s to 78%.
- Newark now outperforms the vast majority of comparable districts in NJ in reading and Math, moving from the bottom third among comparable districts, to outperforming 80% of them today.
- When looking just at students who qualify for free or reduced price lunch (a common proxy for poverty), Newark students outperform all other large school districts in the US that take the same exam.
- Today, African-American students in Newark are three times more likely to attend a school with test scores above the state average than they were in 2009.
- Renegotiating health and prescription benefits, saving the district approximately $10 million annually with comparable services.
- Identifying better ways to fund district facilities by increasing the number of projects submitted to the School Development Authority and issuing $30M bonds.
- Moving the district’s central office building into a more modern and efficient space saving the district $2 million annually.
- Selling twelve unused school buildings to the Newark Housing Authority in an innovative partnership, saving the district more than $1 million annually while bringing over $10 million dollars to the district immediately.
- Increasing revenue by advocating for proper funding with the State and raising taxes to ensure Newark is paying its local fair share.
- Renewing the progressive collective bargaining agreement established in 2012 that offers bonuses for performance and raises based on educator effectiveness, creating a predictable cost structure for the district’s largest contract through 18-19.