NORTH BRUNSWICK –The date of Sept. 8, 2017, will forever be marked in North Brunswick’s history.
Representatives of the school district, the Board of Education (BOE) and the township joined together for the ceremonial groundbreaking of the North Brunswick Middle School, the first new school to be built in town in 40 years.
Motioning to a group of fourth and fifth graders who provided music during the ceremony, Superintendent of Schools Brian Zychowski said, “It’s about them. This is a conduit for their future-ready education.
The new 7-8th grade school is part of the $77 million referendum approved in December to relieve overcrowding among the district’s schools. The project was funded in part by a grant from the State of New Jersey.
Features include maker spaces, learning labs, and collaborative huddle spaces, as well as general classrooms. The cafeteria, gymnasium and media center are designed to stand apart from the academic portion of the school as they will be shared with the general community for use after hours.
USA Architects, the designers of the new school, were present during the ceremony.
“We are thrilled to be helping the district and community move forward. … We have been involved for a long time,” said Principal in Charge, Pete Campisano, who is a graduate of the North Brunswick Township High School Class of 1982. “Pushing the boundaries of a 21st-century learning environment requires a team with foresight to create adaptable spaces that change with technology. Our design focuses on enhancing the experience between student and teacher and helps facilitate communication and creativity.”
With the new 175,000-square-foot building expected to be completed in 2020, the choir members will be the first classes attending the seventh- and eighth-grade school that will be built off of Renaissance Boulevard North and Dawn Way.
“This is a symbol of North Brunswick’s value and highlights its most important commodity,” Zychowski said.
Gloria Gonzalez, the BOE president, said that as a parent of a Judd Elementary School student, she was aware of the space constraints in the existing sixth- through eighth-grade Linwood Middle School, and said the new school will have more space, more athletic and arts programs, and will raise the bar of technological advances.
“[This] makes available to them the opportunity and the education to make this world and this country a better place,” Mayor Francis “Mac” Womack said.
Also part of the approved referendum are improvements and alterations to Linwood to make it a fifth- and sixth-grade school. Those changes should be completed six months after the new middle school is finished.
In addition, the Early Childhood Center (ECC), which serves 3- and 4-year-old special needs students, is currently at a building the township leases from Milltown, and the Board of Education offices, set inside the old Maple Meade School on Georges Road, will be moved to Linwood.
STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics) programs will also be expanded.
Zychowski announced last month that the school district will share $1 million of its state aid funding to bring relief to taxpayers.
Since the district will receive $2.75 million in state aid, the superintendent said the board will voluntarily appropriate $1 million – which is more than one third of the total amount – to tax relief by the way of debt service for the new school building project. He said that the district will bond $35 million in October, but that the $1 million will provide a three-year holiday for taxpayers.
“We made a promise to our taxpayers when we went out for the new school; they’ve been paying our budget for many, many years,” he said during the Aug. 7 Township Council meeting.
In addition, during the Sept. 8 ceremony, Richard Zangara and Dr. Nihal Kamel were presented with volunteer awards for going above and beyond during the referendum process.
“The time one gives cannot be repaid or measured,” Zychowski said.
Contact Jennifer Amato at email@example.com.