BOE Meets Wednesday to Decide on School Construction

January 23, 2013 at 2:17 PM

The Livingston Board of Education will hold a voting meeting at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, January 23  to consider a special election for voters to decide new school construction at the elementary schools.

Livingston is exploring additions and renovations to increase future capacities for 2015 and beyond as the District prepares for as many as 300 new students. The vote on the resolution providing for a special school District election on March 12 is the only item on tonight’s agenda.

Dr. Brad Draeger, the Superintendent of Schools, is sounding his deep concern that new students will squeeze the elementary schools in the foreseeable future – unless Livingston acts now.

“I think Livingston finds itself at the juxtaposition right now,” Draeger said. “This is a tough decision. We’re still in tough economic times. But interest rates are low. And we really do see the need that if you want Livingston Public Schools to maintain their quality, they need some breathing space for new students coming in, and for special education students returning to district.”

This project would renovate three learning resource centers at Harrison, Riker Hill and Collins – bringing those hubs of learning on par with the newer centers at Livingston’s other elementary schools. Aging learning resource centers at those schools will be converted into classroom space.

The construction would also add classrooms at Hillside and Burnet Hill. All of the work offers more flexibility for reducing the schools’ crowding. The concern is that in a few short years, art, music and world language curriculum and instruction could suffer.

The work would also include ADA compliance improvements at Livingston High School.

If approved by voters, the referendum would allow the School District to issue bonds of the school district to finance the projects in the principal amount of $18.2 million.

The Board of Education has been discussing and analyzing the impact of four proposed housing developments in Livingston. Elementary schools already are operating at capacity, and the plan is to build enough classrooms to hold the additional students from these new developments.

In addition, LPS currently has more than 130 students in expensive out-of-district special education programs. If space was available, the Strategic Plan calls for our teachers and support staff to educate these children in the classrooms of Livingston Public Schools.

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