Saturday, November 03, 2007

New Middle School Tops Wish List

A new middle school is still the top priority for the Plainfield school district, Interim Schools Superintendent Peter E. Carter said Thursday.

Carter met Wednesday with representatives of the New Jersey Schools Development Authority to discuss construction priorities for Plainfield. The authority is the successor of the New Jersey Schools Construction Corp., which ran out of money and left projects in limbo across the state. A probe by a state Inspector General’s office established in 2005 found waste and mismanagement in NJSCC operations. See the report here.

The NJSCC was in the stage of land acquisition for a new middle school when the corporation was shut down for lack of money to proceed. See Plaintalker story here.

Any new work will depend on the availability of funding.

Carter said renovations and additions to the high school are the next priority on the list, followed by a “cluster” of Stillman, Cook and Woodland elementary schools. Carter said a new high school is off the table.

The Education Law Center is the main advocate for the state’s neediest districts, known as Abbott districts. The group’s April 2004 report on Abbott district schools is here.

The NJSDA has a web site that includes information on construction in each district. At present, a new middle school is not on their list for Plainfield.

Besides everything else going on in the district, the progress of school construction is just one more thing for interested residents to track. A new Emerson School is being completed. Emerson students are currently housed in the “swing school” at 1700 West Front Street, as are Jefferson School students. The SCC bought the former National Starch office building for $6 million and it is supposed to return to the tax rolls once it is no longer needed as a temporary school space.

--Bernice Paglia


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