The following Letter To The Editor is from Carmine C. Bonanni, Jr., a former Ventnor school superintendent:
I arrive at the following perspective on merging the Margate/Longport and Ventnor School Districts by having lived in Margate for over 50 years and serving as VECC (Ventnor) School Superintendent for 9 years from 2002 through 2011.
For purposes of this article, let’s call this merged school district the “Downbeach School District”. The VECC would be the facility for this Downbeach School District.
My first consideration in this merger is, as it should be, the children. The resulting rich mix of cultures that such a merger would create a true microcosm of the world that the children would enter at high school and beyond.
The blending of each district’s excellent teaching staff, the high academic and disciplinary standards of the districts, and the consistently strong achievement level of students in both districts would benefit every child attending our Downbeach School District. Every year, both districts feature students in the top tens of the graduating classes of receiving high schools.
But there are many other benefits to such a merger.
The VECC (Ventnor Educational Community Complex) is situated at the geographical center of both Margate and Ventnor. Wide streets surround the complex and the entire complex is easily accessible. Student drop off and pick up procedures are organized, safe, and smooth.
In the past, the VECC has comfortably housed as many as 1250 students. The current combined enrollments of the two districts is less than 900. The resultant Downbeach School District class sizes would average in the mid to high teens. Plenty of space for quality teaching and learning to occur.
The VECC has more than ample parking available, two gymnasiums, a theater with a capacity of several hundred, an attractive cafeteria, a large campus that includes a soccer field and other open surrounding space for future outdoor applications.
The VECC houses two libraries, a tech and science labs, a TV studio, and 1000 sq. ft. classrooms throughout. The VECC is currently divided into two grade level sections — Elementary grades PK-3 and Upper Elementary/Middle grades 4-8.
The complex is safe, secure, clean, and attractive.
Our Downbeach School District would open up possibilities for more robust and competitive sport programs with more athletes available to participate.
To serve the administrative needs of the Downbeach School District, one Superintendent/Principal would administer the PK-3 levels and one Principal the 4-8 Elementary/Middle levels. Those two administrators would be supported by one Special Education Supervisor and one Curriculum and Instruction Supervisor.
However, those two positions could possibly be merged into one with an individual who possesses appropriate experience and credentials. Thus, a total of three or four administrators could capably handle the required administrative tasks.
Other matters that would need attention:
Board of Education — the composition of the new Board would require balanced representation. Research into how other towns/cities have merged their school districts would be in order. Longport would need representation. County Education Officials would be of great help in this matter.
Tax implications — business agents and other stakeholders would need to examine the impact on each town’s tax base. That would involve county government and education officials as well. Transportation needs would be reduced and one lunch staff would be required to provide lunches. Also, the following thoughts should have a positive impact on our tax base, as well.
Re-purposing of existing school buildings in Margate (Ross, Tighe):
Demolishing Tighe for potential housing units, but keeping the Potena Performing Arts Theater open and available to the community to contract regional artists and agencies to present shows, performances, concerts, guest speakers and other community events
Adapt the Ross School to create “Margate’s Ross Executive Office Complex” for usage by architects, attorneys, accountants and other professions that require office space.
The gym could be a multi-purpose room for community use. Perhaps move City Hall to the Ross Complex. Plenty of available parking, too.
Of course, there are other matters that need careful consideration. Please share.
I would be happy to discuss these matters if there is any interest in making such a merger possible.
Carmine C. Bonanni, Jr.
19 thoughts on “Retired Superintendent Re-imagines Margate, Ventnor, Longport School District”
I think this makes a lot of sense I don’t think the margate people will agree though.
OK, I’ll bite. Why won’t the voting-eligible Margate people agree? Any specifics you can comment on?
Because Margate Ross and Tighe schools are phenomenal. Ventnor schools are not very good. Margate home prices sell at a hefty premium to Ventnor partially because of the schools. Just like Longport sells at a hefty premium to Margate because it sends to Ocean City rather than AC high. So property values in Margate will go down. Margate also has lower taxes than Ventnor, so Margate taxes will likely go up.
Margate has nothing to gain from this proposed merger.
What Margate should be talking about is getting the hell out of the AC High sending district. You have to be insane to send your kid into that school. AC high is the only downside to raising kids in Margate.
Also – Why do old people who don’t have kids in the schools anymore constantly propose these mergers? And why is it always the schools that are the target? What about the overstuffed police and fire depts? Why not merge those and cut some fat there?
While I appreciate your comments I don’t necessarily agree with many of them. You’re taking the ideas being proposed and assuming that they would happen as described in their entirety and with no other resultant changes, or protections built in. I do agree with the need to have Margate get out of AC sending district.
Very insightful! Has the masses been in touch with you to further explore your ideas?
The first consideration should be the children. But I don’t believe creating an environment for children at Elementary/Mid School ages full of distractions like the ones they would find themselves in High School would necessarily prepare them better for that experience.
The learning experience in pre High School seems to works best in a smaller setting.
The former superintendent mentions in only one sentence his consideration for the children in some vague idea about a “rich mix of cultures” the education in Atlantic City High School is not exactly the ideal that we want for our children, but it is in reality a poorly run dysfunctional environment that has a proven track record of failure.
The only thing that will give our children the best chance to thrive when they find themselves in Atlantic City High School is the foundation they build in their smaller intimate hometown schooling experience that they are fortunate to have now.
A four word sentence about culture from Mr Bonnani is all he has to say about his consideration for the children and then five paragraphs about how great the idea is for a host of other reasons that have nothing to due with what’s best for the children. Smells fishy…
I would need to hear much more about how this would exactly best serve the children from Ventnor, Margate and Longport.
This has been on many minds for quite awhile but always thought to be unlikely if not impossible. It’s encouraging to see an education administrator weigh in with credible detail. I support this effort and encourage others to to the same.
Great ideas! I see this as a win for the children and a win for both cities. Saves money and could create revenues by repurposing the buildings in Margate.
Create a plan. Present it and let the tax payers decide.
Margate may be tough due to our Mayor controlling the entire school system.
There should be a class for parents to learn how to homeschool high schoolers after their children have gone through elementary education (WITHOUT the Marxist indoctrination found in too many schools, pre-K through 8th grade, in our country).
The education received at AC High School is in the <5% statewide competency rates for math & reading (11% in math, 27% in reading) UNLESS your child is in the AP/Honors course of study.
The environment is dangerous, but covered up by administration.
That the principal of a failing high school is rewarded with a superintendent’s position is appalling. If ppl don’t care about EVERY student’s educational opportunities, including most of those young ppl of color living in the city, then perhaps the Marxists have already won. Too sad.
Ventnor gave 12% raise to outgoing AC school boss Barry Caldwell. Ventnor voted to hire wife of Atlantic City Mayor Marty Small to become next school Superintendent. LaQuetta Small still under investigation for student abuse scandal.
Having my mother teach there for many years. The outstanding staff and faculty over the years I think a fresh new idea should at least be considered.
Consolidation and efficiency are important for the parents and children to bill a learning community in one place.
Good luck and please listen to all sides before beating the thought.
Although my children are not going to school anymore, this was my wish many years ago. Only because AC high is a dangerous school. Period. At the time, Ventnor itself was having problems with bullies. But, due to certain people , being in positions in which they should not have been , covering up, and just bad leadership. But it looks like a better school now. But hopefully for the taxpayer and kids, this will be considered.
My 3 daughters had wonderful educations at ACHS!
I’ll just leave this here
Recently? Guessing not.
Both my children attended ACHS. They both were in a few AP classes, but neither were in the top 20 in their class. They both received EXCELLENT educations, graduated from college and received a Master’s Degree. Most importantly, after attending Margate’s grade schools, they learned multiculturalism. This is a reality in life that they reply upon daily.
It is easy to be negative. Please don’t bad mouth a situation that you do not have any first hand knowledge. ACHS provides a great education for any student who will avail themselves of the opportunity provided!
Again, WHEN did they attend? By virtue of your reference to a master degree, at a minimum it would suggest 6 or more years ago… likely more. The issue is with the current/near term future state of affairs.
You have first hand knowledge of Atlantic City High School that produces 27% Reading proficiency and 11% Math proficiency at $22,287 per student, per year!!
I am saddened by Mayor Holtzman’s support of LaQuetta Small for AC school superintendent. Small failed to protect our kids from predator.
How about instead of dumping the Margate schools, use them as a high school to get students out of atlantic city.