NUTLEY, NJ - Nutley Board of Education President Danny Carnicella and District Superintendent Dr. Julie Glazer made their final presentation of proposed school construction to the Nutley Rotary Club on Thursday.
Following the format of the previous Town Halls, Carnicella and Dr. Glazer provided an overview of the events and actions leading up to the Board’s vote on whether to proceed with the school construction referendum. The Board will make their decision known at the Public Meeting Monday March 27 at 6:30 p.m (Middle School Choir Room).
Glazer stated that with the newest data from the demographer ‘we see the potential of another 500 students in the district over the next five years’. Carnicella explained that the last demographer report was off by only two students.
At this time, some Nutley students are not attending their ‘home schools’ due to lack of instructional space. As new residents are registering their children, the district is unable to enroll some of these students in their neighborhood school. Glazer said, “Some parents have made the difficult choice to have their children in two different schools.”
She continued that the space shortage was due to many factors including several state mandated changes: “The delivery of instruction has changed. We are now [because of these changes] using spaces not originally intended to be used as learning spaces.” The changes include all day Kindergarten that takes up 3 or 4 classrooms depending on the school, New Jersey mandates, and the autism programs which serves about 18% of the student population, Glazer explained that every space is being used.
New construction in the township as well as the turnover of single family homes has changed the population. One of the Rotarians said "every time one of my neighbors retires to Florida or North Carolina, and new family moves in with kids."
The plan to build has been in development for 5 or so years according to Carnicella. This project is focused on real education space, other builds met other needs.
Glazer provided an overview of the proposed construction by school including;
At Nutley High School, the renovation of the existing Media space to include S.T.E.A.M. classrooms. Dr Glazer explained to the members that ‘Media Center’ is the current term for ‘library’ as it encompassed more than books, "but books will never go away." Carnicella added that designs include consideration of possible future expansions, this means that the additions are being built so that if they need to go up in the future, the infrastructure is already there.
Middle School: Sixth Grade Wing with science labs, physical education and cafeteria space. From a curriculum standpoint, the sixth grade students will now have the opportunities for science labs, robotics, teaming, and core instruction. Students will received English and Math instruction from teachers who specialize in those disciplines under the proposed changed. Glazer reminded everyone that in most districts middle school is grades 6, 7 and 8 as the sixth graders have more in common with those students than the third and fourth graders.
It was noted that purchase of the ‘bike shop’ by the Township, allowed for the addition to the side of the current building. One of the early ideas was to use the space in front of the of the building but that would have changed the character of the schol as well as the center of town.
Washington Elementary: All of the additions are instructional space. Glazer noted that construction of Washington School's secure entrance would take place in the summer of 2017 and was not a part of the referendum.
Yantacaw Elementary: Instructional and storage place and relocation of the Principal’s office to the first floor. The move of the administrative offices to the first floor is in response to heightened school security.
Carnicella explained that the proposals are true additions, not renovations of existing space. Citizens who have viewed the plans saw how these new spaces are added to existing spaces with access from existing corridors, this will help eliminate change orders. Glazer noted that the Board of Education offices will remain in the basement of the middle school with no changes to that space.
Glazer encouraged the students and Rotarians to ask questions and provide ideas. “Your ongoing input is critical.”
She said there was currently a committee looking at ‘traffic flow and parking issues’ and more committees would be forming. In most of the town hall meetings, the issue of traffic was brought up by the citizenry. Pedestrian safety on Franklin Avenue was a topic local business leaders addressed passionately at the town halls.
Board members Charlie Kucinski and Fred Scalera also attended and discussed the school overcrowding issue with Rotary members during the luncheon. “I’ve been on the board for 19 years and this is the first time we are not able to send some student to their ‘home school’. Nutley is changing from what we knew as kids.” Charlie Kucinski
Hirsch and Smith presented Dr. Glazer with copies of a book on the history of the Rotary; one for each of the Nutley school libraries.
Also attending the meeting were Nutley High students who are ‘Finding out how serious leadership can be seriously fun’ as members of the local Rotary Interact Club. According to the National website rotary.org; Interact clubs bring together young people ages 12-18 to develop leadership skills while discovering the power of 'Service Above Self'.
Nutley High Social Studies teacher Phil Bruno serves as the local Interact Clubs’ Advisor. He accompanied nearly a dozen of the Interact Members attending the Rotary luncheon at the Franklin Steakhouse March 23..
Bruno, a Nutley High graduate said, “As a Nutleyite, I love this town.” He was grateful to be involved with the activities of the Interact club, including the recently completed ‘Jeans Drive’ and the upcoming ‘Book Drive’ and ‘Pet Supply Drive’.
After providing an overview of the club to the approximately 30 members and guests in attendance, Bruno introduced Interact Club President, Stephanie Calluori (Senior) and Vice President, Nick Ferrolli, a freshman.
Calluori said the Rotary Club members were “role models for the Interact members to be better citizens, starting at the local level.”