Edison, NJ - Construction is underway at two schools in Edison. Ten modular classrooms are being added to the Franklin D. Roosevelt Preschool Program. An additional ten modular classrooms are being added to Woodrow Wilson Middle School. It is expected that the 20 new classrooms will be available by the beginning of the new school year.
“These classrooms will be much more sturdier than the traditional trailers, cost much less, and be built faster,” said Board of Education member Richard Brescher, who serves on the Board’s Finance and Facilities committee. “The district is piloting the new modular technology. If successful, we will explore incorporating it with other district buildings that need small additions or in combination with traditional brick and mortar construction,” he said.
The school district funded the modular classrooms with the money it saved by switching insurance carriers and through other negotiations with vendors said Board of Education President Jerry Shi. “For the past couple years we have been pressing our vendors on costs. For example we reduced expenditures nearly $4 million by reevaluating our insurance costs. We have been able to redirect these savings back to our classrooms without impacting services to our students,” he said.
The new classrooms at Woodrow Wilson will provide immediate relief to a school that has been significantly impacted by the district’s overcrowding crisis according to school officials. Woodrow Wilson’s student population reached over 1,000 students three years ago.
Meanwhile, the new classrooms at FDR will support the district’s Pre-K special education students. The new classrooms were approved by the Board in lieu of four trailers, and one of the new classrooms will be dedicated for therapy sessions for children with special needs. Each classroom will also have its own bathroom, according to the District.
At the end of the 2018-19 school year, the District had 327 Preschoolers, and the vast majority – nearly 85% - were Special Education Preschoolers, according to Christopher Conklin, Assistant Superintendent for Pupil-Special Services. Overall, the District’s preschool population has increased by 15% in just the past three years.
Preschool special education services are available for children ages 3-5 who have disabilities or developmental delays that impact their ability to learn as defined by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and New Jersey regulations. A child may be eligible for preschool special education services if he or she shows a significant delay in any of five areas of development: cognitive (thinking and learning); communication (receptive and expressive language); physical/motor (vision, hearing, and movement); social/emotional; and adaptive/self-help (independent living skills, such as toileting, eating, and dressing), said Mr. Conklin.
Board of Education member Shannon Peng, who Chairs the District’s Curriculum and Technology committee, told TAPinto Edison that the new classrooms at FDR were a priority for many of the Board’s members including herself. “Parents from FDR have repeatedly told me that the school has had a major impact,” she said. “These early programs provide much needed help to get the children ready for kindergarten and first grade. But like the rest of our district, the school is overcrowded and that makes it very difficult for the educators and students. We need to give them the room to grow and learn.”
The new modular classrooms at FDR will allow the district to relocate 85 Special Education preschoolers, who are currently enrolled in James Madison primary, Lincoln Elementary School, and John Marshall Elementary School, to FDR, said Mr. Conklin. This in turn will free up 5 to 7 classrooms in these buildings to support new classes, he said.