Description of School and Community Somerville is a small community located in northern, central New Jersey and is considered to be the county seat of Somerset County (Somerville, New Jersey, 2013).
According to the Somerville Borough website (2013), Somerville was settled in colonial times by the Dutch who purchased the land from English proprietors of the colony. The town was founded in the 1750s and is named after four brothers William, Edward, John, and James Somerville, who were originally from County Cork in Ireland (Somerville, New Jersey, 2013).
Originally populated by a farming community, with the addition of a railroad through the middle of the town, Somerville quickly grew into a large community. The neighborhood features several gorgeous Victorian homes, along with a white, marble court house. Historically speaking, there is a small wooden and stone colonial home at the end of town called the Wallace House that has been turned into a museum, because George Washington spent a winter there during the American Revolutionary War (Borough of Somerville, 2014). In addition, the first president of Rutgers University, Reverend Jacob Rutsen Hardenbergh, lived near the Wallace house in what is known as the Old Dutch Parsonage (Borough of Somerville, 2014).
Since 1940, Somerville has had a tradition of holding an annual bicycle race on Memorial Day for professional and amateur bike racers. The event draws large crowds and is the oldest major bicycle race in the United States (Middle Earth, 2014). A few years ago, Somerville celebrated its 100thCentennial Anniversary, and more recently the town added a 911 Memorial next to the marble court house to honor members of the community and that were killed on September 11, 2001.
The town of Somerville has a total land area of 2.362 square miles, the territory is flat land, and it also located on the Raritan River to the south. In a 2012 report made by the United States Census, there were approximately 12,160 people and 4,591 households in the town ("State and county," 2014). According to the North Jersey Transportation Planning Authority, Inc. (NJTPA) (2011), population in Somerville will continue to increase, and “forecasts project the population in Somerville Borough to be 14,000 in 2020” (Grip, 2011, p. 5).
In addition, there has been an increase in population in a neighboring town called Branchburg Township. Since the high school children from Branchburg Township attend the Somerville Public Schools “through a sending-receiving agreement,” it is important to recognize population figures for the future (Grip, 2011, p. 6). Below is a chart that highlights the projected population numbers for both the Somerville Borough and the Branchburg Township (Table 1).
Table 1: Historical and Projected Populations
Somerville is a very diverse community and the percentage of Blacks, Asians, and Hispanics is larger than both the state and national percentages. Following is statistical information about race and ethnicity in the town of Somerville and how it compares to the rest of the state and across the country (Table 2).
Table 2: Race and Ethnicity
Race and Ethnicity
Black or African American
American Indian and Alaska Native
Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islander
Some other race
Two or more races
Hispanic or Latino
(U.S. Census Bureau, 2012)
Somerville’s median household income is $72,271, which is 13.8% higher than the national average of $53,046 and is slightly higher than the state average (Table 3) (State and County, 2014). According to the Demographic Study for the Somerville Public Schools, the percentage of people living in “poverty under age 18” in Somerville is 5.9% (Grip, 2011, p. 9).
Table 3: Average Household Income
Average Household Income
Per capital money income in past 12 months
Medium household income 2008-2012
(U. S. Census Bureau, 2012)
In the town of Somerville, 30% of the residents are high school graduates, and this is higher than the state and national percentages (Table 4). In addition, many of the high school graduates have an Associate’s degree, a Bachelor’s degree, or a graduate degree. According to the U. S. Census Bureau, the number of high school graduates that attained a Bachelor’s degree is 22.4% and this exceeds both the state and national percentages (U. S. Census Bureau, 2012).
Table 4: Educational Attainment
Population 25 years and over
Less than 9th grade
9th to 12th grade, no diploma
High School Graduate (includes equivalency)
Some college, no degree
Graduate or professional degree
(U.S. Census Bureau, 2012)
The X School District is located in the town of Somerville and serves students in prekindergarten through the twelfth grade. The town has three school which are comprised of one elementary school (which houses Kindergarten through 5th grade), one middle school (which houses Pre-K and 6th through 8th grades), and one high school (which houses the 9th through 12th grades). The X High School is also a sending/receiving district with students from Branchburg Township attending the school (Grip, 2011).
As population figures continue to rise, the enrollment figures for the X School District have also steadily risen (Table 5). Since the 2005-2006 school year, enrollment has been increasing and the district gained “259 students (+11.9%) over this time period” (Grip, 2011,
p. 13). It is important to note that enrollment at the high school is growing at a faster rate than the other two schools (middle and elementary schools). This is due to the fact that Branchburg Township’s population is also rising, and as of October 15, 2012, there were 2,516 “pupils on the roll” in the entire school district (Table 6) (“User friendly,” 2013).
Table 5: Historical Enrollment
Table 6: Advertised Enrollments
(User FriendlyBudget, 2013)
The U.S. Census Bureau (Table 7) calculated slightly different estimations that the advertised enrollment study performed above for the Somerville public schools (U.S. Census Bureau, 2012).
Student Ethnicity The X School District student population is becoming increasingly diverse. In 2011, 75% of the student population was White, 9.0% Black, and 10% Hispanic with a small number of students of Asian and Indian ethnicity (New Jersey Department of Education, 2012a). Three years later, 69.3 % of students are identified as White, 8.4% Black, 13%, Hispanic, 8.5% Asian, and 0.7% are Multi-racial (Figure 1). The increase in total student enrollment, changes in ethnic and cultural diversity and the need for increased and specialized services, for instance ESL classes, present challenges for the school system.
Figure 1: Student Ethnicity
(New Jersey Department of Education, 2012a)
For the current school year of 2013-2014, the X School District budget is proposed to be $42,882,477. The “per pupil cost calculated” for this year is $13,709 (Table 8), which is a 1.006% increase from the 2012-2013 school year (User Friendly Budget, 2013). Also, noted in the following pie chart (Figure 2), 64% of the tax dollars spent on the education of the Somerville students is used for instructional purposes and remainder is spent on support services, administration, and other expenditures (National Center for Education Statistics, 2012a).