Newark Public Schools Highlights “Opportunities for Families”

Success in Enrollment, Transportation, Safety, and Facilities Readiness

September 3, 2014 — Today, Newark Public Schools shared key highlights in school readiness including over 10 days of successful family engagement at the recently opened Enrollment Center and increased transportation and safety options for students and families in the 2014-15 school year.

Universal Enrollment has highlighted tremendous demand from families:

  • 15,300 Newark families submitted applications in Round One or Round Two last spring
    • 8,200 in “transition grades” (e.g., rising 9th graders)
    • 1,600 PK-8 students in schools impacted by One Newark
    • 5,500 students in search of new options
      • 3,500 students were unhappy with current schools and wanted to change
      • 2,000 students wanted to enroll in NPS/participating charters for the first time

In the first year of implementation for Universal Enrollment, NPS was able to meet family demand and preferences – with a strong commitment to uniting siblings and keeping students in neighborhood schools:

  • 92% of Newark applicants received a school match
  • 74% of applicants were matched to one of their top 5 schools
  • The number of K-8 siblings united in a single school has remained the same (approximately 80%) before and after Universal Enrollment
  • The number of families attending a school less than 1 mile from their home has remained the same (approximately 70%) before and after Universal Enrollment

Gabrielle Wyatt, Executive Director of Strategy and Innovation, said it is important to acknowledge that some families already had children who were attending different schools and traveling to reach the schools of their choice.  “Some families have siblings whose age difference prevents them from attending the same school while others chose to keep seats in schools that may be further away from their home yet are highly desired due to performance,” said Wyatt.  “Wherever possible, we worked to unite siblings and reduce travel times.  We also worked to meet family demand for excellence.”

For the first time in Newark Public School’s history, the district opened a “one stop” Enrollment Center located at 301 West Kinney Street. Since opening its doors on August 28, 2014, Newark Public Schools has served 2,500 families:

  • 1200 were families brand new to Newark Public Schools and received new school placements
    • 750 new immigrants
    • 300 recently moved to Newark
    • 150 previously in private or county schools
  • 620 were families who did not apply or were unmatched and now have school placements
    • 300 were PK and K students who did not apply and needed schools for next year
    • 320 were impacted PK-8 students and unmatched students (primarily the result of only preferencing high demand schools)
  • 670 were matched during Rounds 1 and 2 and were requesting transfers
    • 490 were granted transfers due to family circumstances changing (e.g., moving or wanting to reunite families)
    • 180 students kept their school matches from Rounds 1 and 2 after conversation with Enrollment Specialists

After Thursday, parents experienced high levels of customer service and limited wait times.  Highly trained district staff guided parents through the new process and aimed to ensure families left satisfied and clear about next steps.

“We weren’t really sure what to expect from the Universal Enrollment Center but the staff there definitely helped simplify the process for us,” said Ms. Williams, a Newark Public Schools parent. “We left the center confident that we’d taken all of the necessary steps to get our son registered and enrolled.”

In addition, Newark Public Schools is providing new, free shuttle services for any families impacted by One Newark.  The shuttle buses will pick up and drop off students at one of eight newly established Central Hubs, which will be staffed by hub captains, security guards and teacher’s aides.  Safe Routes maps that highlight the locations of key resources like crossing guards and police stations have also been developed to help families identify the safest courses of travel for students. NPS will continue to provide NJ Transit bus tickets as an option to students who meet the distance eligibility requirements.

“The shuttle service is a new, free, and optional service for any family impacted by One Newark,” said Valerie Wilson, SBA for Newark Public Schools.  “We have always given bus tickets but this is the first time we have made anything like this available for families.  This shows our commitment to more opportunities for families.  Our priority is safety while we increase options.”

In addition to increasing opportunities for families through enrollment and transportation enhancements, NPS also highlighted major facilities improvements.  Over $50M of capital improvement projects were completed over the summer – including major work at Westside and Weeqhuaic High Schools.

“We are dedicated to increasing opportunities for families.  Newarkers demanded more from us and we listened.  We are offering families more choices for schools and more ways to get there,” said Superintendent Cami Anderson.  “At the end of the day, Newarkers want their students ready for college and we are fiercely focused on getting to a day when all schools in Newark deliver on that promise.  The huge demand at the enrollment center and the number of families participating in Universal Enrollment is a key indicator that families know Newark Public Schools in on the move!”