Education

South Orange Maplewood School District Announces $127 Million School Improvement and Grade Realignment Plan

6cbdd245d97c1751f2de_SOMSD_admin_bldg.JPG
6cbdd245d97c1751f2de_SOMSD_admin_bldg.JPG

SOUTH ORANGE AND MAPLEWOOD, NJ - A major $127 million school renovation and reorganization plan for South Orange and Maplewood that would realign grades and schools and include nearly $100 million in upgrades and improvements was unveiled by district officials Monday night, who said the aim was to improve both racial integration and school facilities.

“We think we got it right, but we don’t want to rush into anything,” Interim Superintendent Thomas Ficarra said after the plan was explained to a crowded school board meeting room. “We want to have a completely integrated district at every level and we cannot accomplish that by keeping the same district lines.”

The proposal includes a change in grade placement at each school that would have the current seven elementary schools convert to kindergarten through fourth grade populations, Maplewood Middle School handle all fifth and sixth grade students, and South Orange Middle School serve seventh and eighth graders.

Sign Up for E-News

Columbia High School would remain ninth through 12th grade, but with planned additional space, including replacing the swimming pool with classroom space and expanding the library.

The change would end the current Jefferson-Marshall configuration in which Marshall classes are Kindergarten through second grade and Jefferson is third grade through fifth grade. Seth Boyden Demonstration School's broad enrollment options would also end.

“We looked at a variety of configurations,” Ficarra said. “This gave us the least-expensive model and the most desirable.” 

He estimated that the grade realignment would require about $34.5 million for expansion of some areas and other facility enhancements for the different grades. In all, the plan would add about 62,000 square feet in additional education space to the schools.

A redistricting plan would also likely be needed, officials said, but the specifics would not be decided until the improvements are made, and none of the grade realignments would take effect until at least the fall of 2020.

Along with the realignment of grades is a proposed $93.1 million capital improvement and renovation plan that would include upgrades and repairs at all schools, Ficarra said.

The tentative plan would include $5.3 million in security improvements, including closed circuit TV devices and “secure vestibules;” $15.1 million in “life safety” projects such as mason and plumbing repairs; $5.6 million in roof improvements, including slate replacements at all but two schools; and $1.1 million for windows.

Another $10.5 million would go to internal bathroom, floor and other renovations; $8.2 in ADA or disability access upgrades, including parking; $1.5 million in site improvements, including new bleachers at Underhill Field and drainage; $3.8 million in electrical upgrades, including new clocks and internal wiring; and the largest amount – $41 million – for heating, ventilation, piping and insulation repairs and replacement.

That brings the total for the grade realignment changes and the capital improvements to about $127 million, which will be raised through bonding, either 20- or 30-year bond loans.

There is also an optional addition of $3.5 million for expanded early childhood education, or pre-school, but it is not part of the official proposed plan.

All of these changes and upgrades come as the district’s population continues to grow with estimates it will reach 7,012 students next year and 7,195 students by 2022-2023.

District officials stressed that no final decisions have been made on the plan, which the school board did not vote on Monday. Several community meetings will be planned during the coming weeks with no plans for any board approval until at least October.

Ficarra said changes can be made as the district reviews the proposal and accepts public input.

“If we can find a cheaper way to do it,” he said. “We will.”

TAP Into Another Town's News:

Sign Up for E-News

SOMA

AtlantiCast

AtlantiCast: Episode 15

On this week’s AtlantiCast, learn some important tips for controlling and avoiding diabetes from an Atlantic Health System expert, see how Atlantic Health is advancing cutting-edge research, hear what’s being done to keep health care environmentally friendly and much more!

 

Maplewood Police Blotter - Two Motor Vehicle Thefts Reported, One Recovered

May 16, 2018

May 7 - Burglary; Sometime during the prior two days, entry was forced to a business on Newark Way.  The keys to a GMC van were then taken from inside the business and the van was stolen.

 

May 7 - Motor Vehicle Theft; At approximately 9:30 p.m., a Jeep left unattended and running in the parking lot of 7-11 on Irvington Ave was stolen. The vehicle was later recovered in ...

South Orange Police Blotter - More Than 10 Vehicle Burglaries Reported

South Orange Police Blotter as of May 14

Auto Theft - A Roland Ave resident reported that sometime between 10:30 pm, Thursday 5-10-18 & 7:30 am, Friday 5-11-18 actor(s) unknown stole his vehicle (2016 Mitsubishi), which was parked in his driveway of his residence at the time.

Burglary to Auto - A Vose Ave resident reported that sometime between 10:45 pm, Wednesday 5-2-18 & 8:00 ...

South Orange Community Pool Will Not Be Open Memorial Day Weekend; Opening Day Planned for June 2

May 20, 2018

SOUTH ORANGE, NJ - The South Orange Community Pool will have a delayed season opening, and will not be open Memorial Day Weekend, according to an update from the Department of Recreation and Cultural Affairs.

According to the Recreation Department, "weather issues, both the early spring snow and the ongoing spring rain, have caused delays in the construction project underway to ...

Annual MayFest Street Fair is this Sunday in Maplewood

MAPLEWOOD, NJ - This Sunday is the annual MayFest Street Fair celebration in Maplewood with live music, performances on two stages, and the chance to meet the artists who created the new Springfield Avenue murals, as well as to experience a "mural painting in progress," according to event organizers.

The festivities take place on Springfield Avenue on Sunday, May 20, from 11 ...

Upcoming Events

Wed, May 23, 12:00 PM

Temple Sharey Tefilo-Israel, South Orange

The Purposes and Rhythms of Jewish Living

Education Religions And Spirituality

Carousel_image_982bc8344531b1a37c85_par_440

Wed, May 23, 7:00 PM

Par 440 Restaurant & Lounge, Short Hills

The Extra Rich In Class Dinner Show with E.R.I.C.

Arts & Entertainment Food & Drink

Carousel_image_982bc8344531b1a37c85_par_440

Fri, May 25, 7:00 PM

Par 440 Restaurant & Lounge, Short Hills

The Extra Rich In Class Dinner Show with E.R.I.C.

Arts & Entertainment Food & Drink

Carousel_image_af1b89eae735bf536426_par440_promo

Fri, May 25, 7:00 PM

Par 440 Restaurant & Lounge, Short Hills

The Extra Rich In Class Dinner Show with E.R.I.C.

Arts & Entertainment Food & Drink

SURVIVING A STROKE: Quick Medical Response Gives Mom Her Life Back

Carotid artery dissection. It’s one of the most common causes of stroke in younger adults.

And while you might not associate the word “stroke” with younger patients, the condition – if not treated immediately – could lead to paralysis and even death.

Lindsey Singh can attest to the importance of immediacy. The 31-year-old mother of two from Flanders experienced ...

Uniacke Named Bridges Outreach Executive Director as Bhatt, Tulloch Announce Retirement

May 18, 2018

SUMMIT, NJ - Bridges Outreach, Inc. Executive Director Lois Bhatt and Deputy Executive Director Bethany Tulloch have announced their retirement and, effective May 29, Richard J. Uniacke will begin his tenure as the Summit-based nonprofit's new Executive Director.

Uniacke, who will become just the organization's third executive director in three decades, was ...

Bus Accident in Livingston Kills One Wednesday

LIVINGSTON, NJ - Livingston police are investigating a fatal bus accident in the township Wednesday afternoon.

The police department has confirmed a death in the accident, which occurred shortly before 1:30 p.m. near the intersection of Latham Court and South Orange Avenue.

As of 4:30 p.m., detectives were still on the scene investigating the crash. A full report has not yet been released ...

Hundreds of RWJBarnabas Health Employees Run in New Jersey Half Marathon

May 17, 2018

LONG BRANCH, NJ — RWJBarnabas Health leaders Stephen Zieniewicz, president and chief executive officer (CEO) of Saint Barnabas Medical Center in Livingston and Bill Arnold, president and CEO of Monmouth Medical Center in Long Branch were joined by 200 RWJBarnabas Health employees as they ran in the New Jersey Half Marathon on at the Jersey Shore.

The 22nd annual Novo Nordisk ...

Grand Street YMCA Building in Scotch Plains, Which Dated Back 200 Years, Razed by Developer

SCOTCH PLAINS, NJ --  The Second Baptist Church of Scotch Plains -- better known as the Grand St. YMCA (at the corner of Union), faded into Scotch Plains history when it was torn down by developers earlier this month. 

Over the course of two centuries, the building had served a church, meeting house, a school, and from 1947 until recently, it was the Grand Street YMCA. By 1971, ...

Third Annual South Orange Food Stroll & Pub Crawl is Sunday, May 20

May 19, 2018

The South Orange Food Stroll & Pub Crawl is back!

On Sunday, May 20, from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., the South Orange Village Center Alliance hosts its third annual South Orange Food Stroll & Pub Crawl, a tasting event that showcases the diverse restaurants and unique retailers in our Village Center.

With the purchase of a wristband, you'll stroll and sample delectable bites and ...

Weekly Specials at Ashley Marketplace - May 18 to May 24

Shop Ashley Marketplace & Cafe for your everyday needs!

This week's specials are:          

Strawberry Banana Smoothie  $4.25 (Bakery)
Chicken Cutlet $7.99lb (Prep Food)
Turkey Hero $5.99 (Deli)
Juicy Juice 8pk  2/$5*
Friendly’s Ice Cream $3.99
Notre Dame Brie $6.99lb (Cheese)
Monkfish $9.99 ...

South Orange B’nai B’rith Federation House Hosts Visit from Sen. Menendez’s Legislative Counsel

South Orange B’nai B’rith Federation House (SOBBFH) hosted a visit by Rebecca Schatz, legislative counsel for Senator Robert Menendez, who toured the community and heard from residents about what it means to them personally to have affordable housing available to them. The visit provided Schatz with tangible benefits of HUD Section 202 Supporting Housing for the Elderly, a program ...