All set for $19M referendum


The Board of Education and Township Commissioners are now officially on the same page in authorizing – and supporting – a Nov. 8 referendum asking Lyndhurst voters to authorize spending $19 million for capital improvements to elementary schools and the high school.

At the same time, the township commission has committed to funding the acquisition and replacement of the more than 100-year-old Lincoln School by constructing a new $53 million junior high school for grades 7, 8 and 9 and, afterwards, tearing it down and redeveloping that site and part of the surrounding area.

With close to 400 residents packing the township senior center last Tuesday, the board and commission – meeting in joint session – voted unanimously for that scenario known as the “2016 Lyndhurst School Facilities Program.”

After commending the crowd for turning out in such large numbers as a demonstration of their support, Mayor Robert Giangeruso said the Lyndhurst community “has struggled with antiquated schools for decades.

“As the mayor, I am proud to join with this 13-member team (BOE and Township Commission) to vote for this resolution. The goal is to unify two boards. One project. One team.”

“This is an historic moment,” asserted BOE President James Vuono. “There hasn’t been a new school building since 2000 when we added on [a science wing] to the high school.”

Vuono credited students, teachers and staff for giving their all even under tough conditions of overcrowding and lacking space dedicated to music, art and science classrooms.

“Our teachers have been working under handicaps but they’ve done a fine job,” Vuono said. “I can’t wait to see what they do when they have everything at their fingertips.”

And Interim Schools Superintendent James Corino joined the chorus by adding: “This is the right thing to do. It’s about fairness and caring. What better gift can you give your children so they can go on to successful careers and higher education.”

Alluding to the voters’ defeat of two recently held school referenda, Corino said the school district has reached a point of no return.

“It’s time to step up, put the apathy aside. … There’s really no excuse [not to support this referendum]. And if you know people not registered, get them registered and do the right thing for our children,” Corino said, to tumultuous applause from the packed house.

Asked about a timeline for the separate school projects, Vuono – choosing to be optimistic – said, referring to the elementary and high school improvements, “As soon as the referendum passes, the hammers will hit the walls.”

The district expects to receive around $4 million in state funding to apply to those improvements, according to Richard DiLascio, counsel to the BOE and township commission.

Those improvements, the resolution said, “will allow neighborhood schools to remain fully intact [and] allow students to remain in the primary schools for grades kindergarten through grade 6 and then proceed to new facilities at the new Lyndhurst Junior High School and the improved facilities at Lyndhurst High School.”

As for the new junior high, DiLascio said it would probably take “at least four years” before the first class goes through school’s doors. And, he said, Lincoln School “will stay in place until the junior high gets a C.O. [certificate of occupancy].”

With the junior high’s accommodation of ninth-graders, DiLascio said, “eight classrooms will be taken out of the high school.” That will be a big help, he said, since “we’re at a shortage of room space at the high school.”

The freed-up space at the high school would offer opportunities for providing “vocational technical instruction and professional preparatory coursework,” according to the resolution.

DiLascio said that projections call for the new school to house a total of 650 students to be distributed among the three grade levels so that there will be no more than 25 students per class.

The hope is that by placing the referendum on the same ballot for the presidential election, there will be big bump in the turnout, DiLascio said, “and we take that as a positive.”




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