EDISON – To address the current severely overcrowded needs in the Edison Public Schools, a referendum is on the horizon.
Jeanne Perantoni, principal and CEO of SSP Architects, Bridgewater, proposed a referendum for September during an Overcrowding Taskforce Committee meeting on March 18.
“The need is here. There is no benefit to delay a vote by the public,” she said.
With the “need” established, Perantoni said representatives will work with the board to put together a cost effective referendum package to present to the public.
“The [cost of the referendum] will be big,” she said, adding it is important for board members to be in agreement and have support from the community.
The Board of Education charged SSP Architects with preparing a long-range facilities plan in November at a cost of $75,000.
Board President Jerry Shi had said the plan would factor into the goal of offering full-day kindergarten, address roofing issues, whether to add more classrooms, expand schools, and/or to build new schools.
Perantoni said she spent six-weeks living and breathing the Edison school facilities.
“In the process, I went to every school, met with all the teachers, met with the custodians, and there were times when it was overwhelming for me and this is what I do on a day-to-day basis [as an education facility planner],” she said.
Perantoni said although she has set foot in many schools, it was the “sheer magnitude” of the Edison School District, which has two high schools, four middle schools, nine elementary schools, one intermediate school, one primary school, and the operation of a preschool program.
The overcrowding needs in the district call for John P. Stevens High School to add 40 classrooms to fill in for the 1,000 seats the school is over capacity. Perantoni likened the need equivalent to a new school. Edison High School needs to add 23 classrooms.
Also, the needs call for give or take 40 classrooms to be added to John Adams Middle School, James Madison Intermediate, and John Marshall and Lincoln elementary schools.
Perantoni said September is ideal for a referendum in order for the district to use the next three summers for construction.
“We want what is most friendly, most beneficial to get the most accelerated work done at the schools,” she said.
Along with the referendum, Perantoni said during the same time period they are recommending the board take advantage of an energy savings bond through the state governed by the Bureau of Pubic Utilities. She said the energy savings bond would benefit all the schools and does not have to be approved through the referendum.
As school officials begin to discuss the best referendum package, the board has moved forward with some pressing overcrowding needs for 10 new classrooms at Woodrow Wilson Middle School. The board approved the Aries Building Systems LLC proposal for the relocatable modular classrooms in accordance with the H-GAC (Houston Galveston Area Council) Federal Cooperative Purchasing program at a meeting on March 20.