Morristown to host classes for CCM
BY BETH PETER
The new year brought the closure of the Morristown location of the County College of Morris housed in the Headquarters Plaza complex as the space was reclaimed for governmental purposes.
The decision was made by the Board of Trustees at its Wednesday, Nov. 16 meeting, but a proposal was made and accepted by the nearby Morris School District which will take effect next month.
Beginning in early February, CCM will be offering English for speakers of other languages (ESL) hosted by Morristown High School. The Morris School District Board of Education formally accepted the proposition at its Jan. 2 meeting.
“We didn’t just decide to leave and their decision wasn’t arbitrary,” said Dr. Anthony Iacono, CCM president. “We talked about it back and forth for a while.”
When it became clear that the county administration would need to reclaim the space it had been allowing the college to use free of charge for several years, Iacono and the board began assessing whether they would be able to accommodate classes at the Randolph campus, or if there was a real need for a presence in Morristown.
Transportation is an issue for many students who attended the Morristown campus, especially those in the ESL program according to Iacono.
“It’s only 10 to 15 miles, but when you don’t have a car that may as well be a thousand,” Iacono said. “We have a great population in Morristown, but also people in Dover which is on the train line. There is no train that drives straight to our Randolph campus.”
Dr. Joseph Ricca, CCM Board of Trustees chairman, made the introductory call to Morris School District Superintendent Mackey Pendergrast.
“The Morris School District is an outstanding school district and having a Tier I high school, Morristown High School, only a couple of blocks away made it a spectacular partnership,” Ricca said. “We recognize anytime you make a shift you could have a negative impact on members of our educational community. We wanted to minimize that impact. Having the school only couple blocks down the road made that the natural choice.”
According to Mackey, hosting the classes takes away no space which is otherwise being used. He said they have been hosting classes at the high school for decades.
“CCM’s reputation for excellence makes this a great opportunity for our community,” Mackey said.
“We both have a commitment to not only education, but to the community,” Iacono said. “We are very happy to be working with the school district to serve a community we value.”
The Morris School District is allowing CCM use of the space free of charge, and Iacono said he believes this is a long-term solution.
“We believe we will be there as long as we can,” Iacono said. “It’s possible in the future there would be other sites, but we haven’t looked seriously into any of them or begun any formal talks with anyone.”
Iacono said that the school is committed to the Morristown community, a sentiment echoed by Mackey.
“We are always looking for opportunities to support our families in the community,” Mackey said. “I am sure there are many other areas where we can partner in the future.”
As of right now, the ESL classes are the only ones being hosted by Morristown High School. According to Iacono, other classes may be added as needed. ESL is the anchor of the CCM curriculum in Morristown, and Iacono said other subjects are covered in online classes right now.
“We do offer online classes,” Iacono said. “Not something for all students but there’s a large and growing population who uses them. It’s conducive to people with heavy workloads and family commitments.”
According to Iacono, only if a real need develops in Morristown will they begin to look into adding more classes. It becomes a fiscal question of where the classes will be held.
“We have a responsibility to students and community to be fiscally efficient,” Iacono said.
Ricca said the board supports the actions of the school, and is impressed with the flexibility.
“We continue to see year after year the college is open and flexible and nimble to shift and change to meet needs of our students,” Ricca said. “This is an example of that, because a space closing could be devastating. I want to give credit to Dr. Iacono and the administration for their dedication to supporting our learners. That flexibility is a hallmark of our college and that’s why people come here, because we are going to do everything in our power to help them.”