Woodbridge school improvements up for vote

Staff Writer

WOODBRIDGE — A special bond referendum may be held on Dec. 13 for voters to decide on proposed renovations and upgrades to Woodbridge Middle School, St. Cecelia’s School and the construction of a new Ross Street Elementary School No. 11.

The Board of Education voted in favor of a resolution for the upgrades and construction at a special meeting in June. Schools Superintendent Robert Zega said the board action was just a formality sent to the New Jersey Department of Education (DOE) to allow the board to eventually submit an application to DOE when school officials decide to move forward with planning for renovations, rebuilding and/or land acquisitions.

“This [resolution] is in no way binding [to the district and] it, in no way, commits the board to do any work or spend any money,” said Zega.

The resolution states that the board in the furtherance of its educational goals and constitutional duties to provide a thorough and efficient education seeks to submit a project to the voters which consists of renovations and upgrades to St. Cecelia’s School; renovations and expansion of the Woodbridge Middle School and construction of a new/replacement school adjacent to the Ross Street Elementary School No. 11 located at 110 Ross St.

The resolution states that the school district would seek debt service aid for the projects.

“So, right now there are some plans, nothing has been set in stone and no commitment –especially a financial commitment — has been made yet,” said Zega.

The superintendent said school officials are looking into possibly building a new School 11 that will be built next to the current Ross Street School 11 building, which was built in 1920 and would be taken out of service.

The proposed renovations and expansions to the Woodbridge Middle School would be done to the rear of the school and consist of taking down older additions and replacing them with one state-of-the-art addition that would include science rooms.

Zega said the proposed renovations and expansions at Woodbridge Middle School and the construction of Ross Street School are for the anticipated increased capacity due to the planned building of new apartments in downtown Woodbridge.

Township and school officials have said they are considering taking the oldest school buildings — Ross Street Elementary School No. 1 and the school administration building — out of service in anticipation of the development of transit-oriented luxury apartments in the downtown area.

As for the renovations and upgrades to St. Cecelia’s School in the Iselin section of Woodbridge, Zega said the board along with township officials is looking to acquire the building from the Diocese of Metuchen to help with the anticipated growth in population.

Zega said the students of James Monroe Elementary School in Edison have been using the space since fall 2014 under a deal reached with the help of Woodbridge Township and the Diocese of Metuchen. The James Monroe School building burned down in March 2014.

He said it is anticipated that the James Monroe students would be leaving St. Cecelia’s by the end of the calendar year.

“I think publicly it has been announced that they will be there until December, but we do not know that for sure,” said Zega.

St. Cecelia’s School closed in 2012 after serving as a school for 50 years. The Diocese of Metuchen cited a bad economy and declining enrollment for the shutdown.