School year off to positive start in North Brunswick

NORTH BRUNSWICK – The 2019-20 school year is off to a good start in North Brunswick, according to the superintendent of schools.

Brian Zychowski provided an outlook during the Sept. 16 Township Council meeting. He said schools are open, despite a lot of construction taking place.

The superintendent said the new seventh and eighth grade school being built off Route 130 near Renaissance is slated for completion by May 2020, with an open date of September 2020.

He said the school is “on time and under budget.” A referendum approved a $78.7 million bond for 30 years at 4.25 percent. Instead, it is now a 22-year payment at 1.085 percent.

“The school is going well,” he said.

In order not to neglect the other schools in the district, Zychowski said, there is an upgrade to the bandwidth, switches and access points at the existing four elementary schools, one middle school and one high school so that students in grades 3-10 can receive and properly use their Chromebooks on a 1:1 basis.

He also said boilers, lighting and HVAC systems are being replaced; a malfunctioning HVAC system at the high school cause a mold problem last school year. A $14.2 million grant through an energy saving investment improvement plan is being used so there is no cost to taxpayers.

In addition, Zychowski said the township is a candidate for a $20 million solar panel project for all school roofs, again at no cost to taxpayers. The Solar Renewable Energy Certificate program provides guaranteed rates for the next 15 years.

He said these initiatives prove why North Brunswick is a National Green Ribbon District for energy efficiency.

On a different note, Zychowski explained that North Brunswick Township High School has a contract with Middlesex County College to offer college-level classes to juniors and seniors. Currently, there are five certified classes whose credits transfer, but Zychowski said the goal is to increase the number of courses as teachers become certified.

“You get a quality education and you’re also on a mission to get a bachelor’s [degree] in two years,” he said, since upon high school graduation a student would already have his/her associate’s degree.

Also related to improving educational goals, Zychowski reported that the township received a $928,000 grant to provide full-day preschool.

“We saw that early childhood is really the way. If we want equity education for all [we have] to address it at the earliest levels, 4 and 5 year olds,” he said.

Zychowski said kindergarteners can read, write and recognize site words better after two years of preschool.

“We see that slide, we see that regression between our cohorts of students,” he said of the need for earlier education.

Zychowski also explained that the reason only 225 of 470 preschool-aged students are being accepted into the program is because the district does not currently have space to educate them. He said once Linwood Middle School becomes a fifth and sixth grade school instead of 6-8, there will be room there; plus, the elementary schools will change from K-5 to K-4, adding more space in each of those four schools.

He also said the district partners with other schools such as Lightbridge and Acelero.

At the high school level, Zychowski said there is an increased number of Advanced Placement students, and the graduation rate is now over 91 percent.

He also said the district has received accolades from the state for its governance, finance, facilities, personnel and accolades.

Contact Jennifer Amato at jamato@newspapermediagroup.com.