Academy decision will have negative impact

To the Editor,

The decision to “decentralize” the Academy for Fine Arts and Academics at Bayonne High School is one that will negatively impact the district and the city.
AFA2 was presented in every city elementary public school and at the BHS Open House as an academy setting and complete package. It was not presented as a list of available courses which is all that remains. Acceptances and scholarships to other schools were declined by many AFA2 students who chose the academy based on what was presented. Without notice, the district changed the terms of the agreement into which it entered. AFA2 was decentralized with less than seven weeks until the start of the school year leaving students with a program upon which they never agreed.
Within 19 days of the interim superintendent assuming his position, AFA2 families received notice of the decentralization. Nineteen days is not sufficient time to evaluate the value of AFA2. Savings are projected yet discrepancies arise. Zero period gym was eliminated for underclassmen and savings calculated. The realization of the need for this course led to its being reopened which, undoubtedly, will decrease the anticipated savings. The loss of even a handful of students to other schools means a loss of tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of dollars. Investing time and energy into saving AFA2 would have benefitted the district financially and educationally.
While I understand the urgent need for the district to become financially sound, we are sacrificing programs that made this district shine. This system used to play a significant role in keeping families in Bayonne but as we continue to sacrifice quality programs throughout the district, we will lose the families that have been the heart of our district.

LISA DOWNEY