LITTLE FERRY — The borough Board of Education will ask voters in March to approve a $38 million proposal for a new middle school on Liberty Street.
The 65,000-square-foot, three-story building would be constructed at the former site of Washington Elementary School, which closed in June 2018 due to its deteriorating condition.
School officials said the planned sixth- through eighth-grade school would have classrooms designed for collaboration and hands-on learning, science labs, modern safety and accessibility features, and a cafeteria with a working kitchen that will provide fresh food for students at the new school and Memorial School, across the street.
The building also would feature two outdoor recreation spaces, including a rooftop area that could be used for recess, gym, outdoor learning or lunches.
Students who have been learning in modular classrooms since Washington School closed would move back into regular classrooms. The modular buildings could then be rented out to other programs, said Matthew Perrapato, the schools superintendent.
“Probably the biggest benefit is the students currently housed in the modular units would be out of the modulars and into the school buildings,” he said. “The new school will also help ensure we can maintain our free pre-K program in years to come.”
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The district’s free pre-kindergarten program began this year with roughly 120 students. To continue receiving state aid funding for the program, it must expand to 160 students, or 90% of the eligible population of 3- and 4-year-olds, within five years.
The new building would give the district the space to expand the program, officials said.
The 110-year-old Washington School will be demolished, likely beginning sometime this week. The site should be completely cleared within four or five weeks, Perrapato said.
The district would receive $4.7 million in state aid toward the cost of the project if the bond proposal is approved.
The referendum on March 12 will ask whether the average property owner, with a home assessed at $375,501, is willing to pay an estimated $50 per month in school debt taxes.
“The voters hold the power to shape the future of our educational system,” said school board President Victoria Bradley. “It’s about investing in our children’s growth and success and ensuring the district has the resources it needs. Their participation on March 12 is a powerful way to express their commitment to the future of our community.”
This article originally appeared on NorthJersey.com: Little Ferry NJ will ask voters to OK new $38 million school
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