NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ - The school superintendent said the Board of Education will only support the sale of its elementary school on Somerset Street if the plan "provides us with a significantly better facility."
Aubrey Johnson made the statement in a press release issued Tuesday by the firm that handles the school district's publicity matters.
Johnson revealed in September the possibility of selling the school, which would assumably be razed to make room for a cancer center.
Board of Education President Diana Solis said at October's Board of Education meeting that administrator/secretary Richard Jannarone and district director of facility design and construction Frank LoDolce had previously met with a representative of the New Brunswick Development Corporation (DEVCO) concerning the sale of the school which is home to about 750 students in grades 3-7.
In June, RWJBarnabas Health and Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey, in partnership with DEVCO, announced plans to build a $750 million, free-standing cancer pavilion.
Chris Paladino, the president of DEVCO, which calls itself a " private nonprofit urban real estate development company" on its website, touched on the matter at a press conference in October to announce the expansion of the New Brunswick Train Station,
"The Cancer Institute needs to be directly connected to the existing hospital facility by a bridge," Paladino said. "We can't cross the train tracks. We have to be able to move the patients back and forth."
Lincoln Annex School is just yards away from the Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital.
Solis said in the October and November Board of Education meetings that there is no proposal to buy the school.
Parents of children who go to the Lincoln Annex School spoke at last month's meeting to voice their concerns about where their children will go to school if it is sold.
"Despite some recent speculation, no agreement exists regarding the sale of the Lincoln Annex School property to facilitate the construction of a cancer institute," Johnson said in the press release. "To date, the school district has simply participated in preliminary discussions with a nonprofit development company about the feasibility of relocating the school."
“Certainly, our district will keep the New Brunswick community informed if there are further developments. For right now, I can simply give my assurances that our Board of Education will only support a plan that provides us with a significantly better facility than what we have with the current Lincoln School Annex.”
Johnson's statement was released on the same day about 30 people participated in a so-called Save Our School rally to protest the possible sale of Lincoln Annex School. They handed out fliers to parents and kids near the school to inform them of the next meeting of the 5th and 6th Ward Neighborhood Association.
The ad-hoc group has met twice to strategize a grassroots effort to stop the sale of the school.
The group is planning to meet again on Dec. 16 at 6:30 p.m. at the Hungarian Heritage Center on Somerset Street.
Lincoln Annex School opened in September 2016 and is the most recent school to open in New Brunswick. It was the former home to St. Peter's School.
Business administrator and board secretary Richard Jannarone said in September that the district spent $22 million to convert the school. Over the summer, the installation of solar panels was completed as part of a large-scale, multimillion-dollar project involving multiple schools.
Several of the parents who attended the October Board of Education meeting said they did not want the students relocated to the district's space at 40 Van Dyke Ave. in the event Lincoln Annex School is sold.