Only Six additional classroom for 22.7 million dollars


OUR SCHOOLS AND OUR CHILDREN

THE NEW MIDDLE SCHOOL PROPOSAL
WILL GAIN
ONLY SIX ADDITIONAL CLASSROOMS
FOR
22.7 MILLION DOLLARS

We can do better. Vote NO on February 9, 1999.

Our Board of Education faces challenges in the education of Rutherford,s children. There are complex issue that need to be addressed. There are classroom needs, state requirements, capacity issues, parity concerns..... the list is long.

The Board of Education has bought into a simplistic notion that a Middle School, newly constructed on the Lincoln School site, is the answer to everything. This solution, while solving some challenges, doesn't remedy others and creates all new problems in addition to compromising aspects that are currently real assets to our educational system-- our neighborhood schools concept will be a memory.

The proposed Middle School is an inner city-like monstrosity. There will only be one quarter of an acre (a building lot sized parcel) of paved area for up to 700 students to recreate outdoors. There will be inadequate parking. It will only increase the total number of much needed classrooms by 6 in the entire town. (At 22.7 million dollars that are hardly cost effective).

The proposed structure is too small to accomplish what it is supposed to do. It cannot be made large because the lot is too small. The NJ State guidelines for Middle School recommend 20 acres plus an additional acre per hundred students. The Board of Education is trying to fit this 27 acre square peg into a 2.1 acre round hole. It is located at the extreme southwest corner of town. As such, it will be a traffic maker and commuter problem for many affected in the north and east portion of town. It will be a public safety concern on narrow residential streets bordering the proposed site.

It will introduce a piece of inner-city over-development to what is currently a beautiful neighborhood. It will radically devalue all the houses in that neighborhood with its proximity and all of the town's real estate by further ballooning our already high property taxes.

The Board of Educations plan doesn't solve enough of the problems to warrant its construction. Ask the board of education and they will tell you that they will need an additional $5-$10 million to upgrade the high school and Pierrepont school. They will take two schools ( Washington and Sylvan School) and decommission them along with 2.2 acres and facilities. What a waste of existing assets! And when all day kindergarten and pre-K are implemented in the foreseeable future count on at least Washington School being recommissioned at great expense and four year olds being required to trek to the far north end of town.

The solutions to the problem we face must be addressed and acquired in an honest and above board manner. Our board of education should seek to pay for unbiased and professional council that does not stand to profit by a large capital expenditure. The question put to them should be how to efficiently remedy our problems and achieve excellence in the education we provide for our children.

On the contrary, what our board of education did was to ask Turner Construction, who is the contracted construction manager and is to be paid a percentage of any resultant construction, " How do we get the votes to approve a Middle School and how much money do you think they will agree to spend?" They also ask the architect to help in their single-minded Middle School endeavor . They hired consultants to tell them what they wanted to hear, that traffic wasn't a problem, that this school can be made to fit an undersized lot, etc.

What an unbiased and honorable professional would be inclined to report is that while a single Middle School offers some advantages it can not be implemented at this site in a manner that justified the endeavor. Especially in the light of more feasible alternatives.

By voting NO to this referendum you are not voting against the children, their education or the bridge to the new millennium. You are simply voting down a plan that is woefully inadequate, not cost effective and that doesn't address the total concerns in an balanced and equitable manner. A solution that is terribly flawed is not a solution.

A new referendum will soon follow, potentially one we can all endorse. Hopefully the Board of Education will better include and embrace the input of the community and not just academic elitist with their single-minded Middle School mantra!.

Tim Stanton
456 Montross Avenue, Rutherford
201-939-8092