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As enrollment soars, Edison board moves to address student overcrowding

EDISON — To deal with the issue of overcrowded conditions in its schools, the Edison Township Public Schools Board of Education has hired an architect to prepare a long-range facilities plan and a demographer to study enrollment trends.

“We haven’t had a long-range facilities plan in seven years,” board President Jerry Shi said at a meeting on Oct. 10 “We have a new vendor visiting all the schools and preparing a long-range plan so we can work with the plan on how we are going to allocate funds and how are we going to address certain issues.”

Shi said the overcrowding issue will not be solved overnight.

Board member Richard Brescher, who chairs the Finance and Facilities Committee, said in September that the committee reviewed two proposals and selected SSP Architects, Bridgewater, to perform work at a cost of $75,000.

Shi said the long-range facilities plan would factor into the goal of offering full-day kindergarten and addressing roofing issues, whether to add more classrooms, expand schools, and/or to build new schools.

“This will all be part of the overall plan, which will be a step-by-step plan we can follow to take care of all the issues,” he said.

Board members hired Sundance Associates, Cherry Hill, to prepare a demographic study at a cost of $11,800.

Business Administrator Dan Michaud said the demographic study will give administrators enrollment projections over the next five years.

He said the enrollment as of Oct. 31 was 17,717 students from pre-kindergarten through 12th grade. On Oct. 31, 2013, the enrollment was 14,901 students.

“All of our schools are currently considered overcrowded,” Michaud said. “The updated long-range facilities plan will give us the current number of ‘unhoused’ students at each school based on the state’s calculation of facility efficiency standards.”

During the past year, school district administrators and Edison municipal officials have joined forces to address the issue of student overcrowding.

When Shi became board president in January, his first order of business was to create a task force to examine student overcrowding and recommend how to address the issue.

“Overcrowding is the most significant challenge that has reached a crisis level and requires immediate action,” Shi said at the time.

Board member Ralph Errico co-chairs the task force with Township Council President Ajay Patil. Board members Shannon Peng, Falguni Patel and Brescher are also on the panel.

The school district has two high schools, four middle schools, nine elementary schools, one intermediate school, one primary school and it operates a preschool program. The next meeting of the task force will be held at 7 p.m. on Nov. 15 at the Education Center.

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