Elizabeth Announces Plans To Split High School

ELIZABETH – Elizabeth High School, he largest in the state, will be split into six smaller academies in September, according to plans announced at last week’s school board meeting.

The move is intended to boost test scores and guide the city’s 5,300 public high school students onto career paths, district officials said.

School officials will present the plan to the public on Thursday, Feb. 5, at 7 p.m. in the high school’s Dwyer Auditorium.

All six schools will be housed in the current high school facility, with a seventh school due to be completed in 2013. The high school now operates as eight separate “houses” under one central administration. Each house is largely independent, with its own classrooms and cafeterias, but there is nothing unique sets the houses apart from each other.

That will change under the new plan. Current house “directors” will become principals and establish a focused curriculum. Jefferson House will become an arts academy, with tracks in theater, creative writing and visual arts. Dwyer House will become a technology academy, and Halsey House will focus on developing leadership skills, stressing criminal justice, military, law, education and business.

New freshman will apply for the school of their choice, and officials are hoping to divide the student body relatively evenly, with about 1,000 students at each academy.

 “We believe this will provide much more in-depth instruction for kids,” said district spokesman Don Goncalves.

The change will require new curriculum, new textbooks and possibly new instructors, though Superintendent Pablo Munoz did not estimate the cost. The current high school operates on a $50 million annual budget, employing approximately 500 teachers and 300 staff members.

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