By Lauren Wanko
Asbury Park High School Junior Iesya Clayton dreams of going to culinary school after graduation. She’s determined to graduate although 51 percent of her peers didn’t get their high school diploma last year.
“It’s not the school’s fault it’s their fault, they don’t show up to school, they don’t go to class,” said Clayton.
Asbury Park’s High School’s graduation rate has become another disappointing statistic to state, local, and school officials.
“It is a very low graduation rate I would not argue that it is not,” said Interim Superintendent Robert Mahon.
“I’m tired of paying $30k a year for failure,” said Governor Chris Christie.
According to Mahon, 91 percent of the Asbury Park School District’s funding comes from the state. Although the school’s yearly operating budget has decreased, the cost-per-pupil has increased to $30,485.
“I’m sure it’s frustrating for legislators to look at the support they’re throwing away at Asbury Park and then look at the results being generated so we’re under the gun we have to begin to produce in this district,” said Mahon.
Mahon says the graduation rate is based on the number of students who start and finish school in four straight years and Asbury Park High School has a high drop-out rate. In a state school performance report indicates the high school’s “academic performance significantly lags in comparison to schools across the state.” The Asbury Park High School student composite SAT score is 962 versus the state average of 1512.
Teachers insist parents need to be more hands on.
“If there’s no support at home to assist the teachers, remember we only have them a short period of the day the rest of the time, they’re at home, they have to have that extra parental involvement at home,” said Asbury Park Education Association President John Napolitani.
Freshman Janasia Reeves blames the students.
“People aren’t taking advantage of the opportunities that teachers are given them,” said Reeves.
“A lot of students don’t care, they don’t want to get it over with,” said student Reggie McNeil.
Asbury Park High School is also facing a decrease in enrollment. After eighth grade, more students are opting for private and charter schools.
“I think the issue with high school right now is it’s safety, people are afraid of the high school they look at the high school as not being safe,” said Napolitani.
In an effort to increase student enrollment here at the high school the administration wants to add additional programs, the principal is about to survey students to find out what they want added to the curriculum.
Mahon insists the lack of stability in leadership is what’s hurting the district the most.
“We’ve gotta get people in roles in this district, leadership roles who will project some continuity both in program and also in staffing,” said Mahon.
Mahon hopes a permanent superintendent will be in place by the beginning of the next school year.