PATERSON, NJ - Passersby will soon start seeing work being done on the site where the future Union Avenue Middle School project is set to rise. In June, according to a statement, the New Jersey Schools Development Authority (SDA) authorized Epic Management, Inc. to begin site work preparation including grading, fencing, and temporary electric service installation.

Slated to open in September, 2021, the new four-story educational facility on the site of the former Don Bosco Tech will accommodate approximately 1,100 students from 6th to 8th grade. With 36 classrooms, nine science labs, six special education classrooms, three art rooms, three science/math/tech project labs, six small group instruction rooms, an occupational therapy room, physical therapy sensory room, cafetorium, stage/dance studio, gymnasium, music/instrument room, a computer lab and media center, the school is being built, according to officials, to address Paterson’s overcrowding issues.

Saying that the Paterson school district is currently educating children in too many buildings that are over 100 years old, Superintendent Eileen Shafer once again expressed her appreciation for the SDA’s efforts to move forward on the project. Offering an indication of just how important the project is to Paterson students Shafer, at a February, 2018 presentation of the plans said that moving it from the drawing board to reality meant that “hope is here.”

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At the same event Deputy Superintendent Susana Perón took the optimism a step further saying that once occupied the new school will allow students to “engage in projects that integrate research and education that will benefit the school and the community,” ultimately making an impact that expands well beyond Paterson offering students the chance to help “build a great society.”

Both state and local officials have long touted the design-build method of constructing the school, a strategy that allows for a shortened timeline by overlapping the design phase with the construction phase. In this instance, Epic Management will oversee all components of the nearly $60 million project.

“The new Union Avenue Middle School will not only help alleviate overcrowding in Paterson’s schools, but will also provide a safe, state-of-the-art learning experience where the children of this community can thrive,” Manuel Da Silva, SDA Interim Chief Executive Officer, said. 

Mayor Andre Sayegh also weighed in on the project saying that “we owe it to our students to provide them with first-class educational facilities.”

“Paterson is in dire need of new schools and we appreciate SDA’s commitment to our children.”

The state agency responsible for funding and managing the new construction, modernization , and renovation of schools in 31 districts across New Jersey, the SDA has invested nearly $525 million in active and completed projects in the Paterson School District, including International High School and the Dr. Hani Awadallah School.