NABOE buys QPHS from Archdiocese of Newark

Back in June of 2017, Queen of Peace High School closed its doors after 86 years of serving students. The institution was an educational landmark in North Arlington for many decades and was awarded twice the National Blue Ribbon School Program, one of the highest awards an American school can obtain.

Low enrollment and funding were issues the Catholic school faced and that led to its demise.

The closing of the school took the town and the Board of Education by surprise. Stephen Yurchak, superintendent of schools and the board were not expecting such sudden turn.

“We were aware of a campaign put together by the Queen of Peace High School stakeholders during the 2016-2017 school year in an attempt to raise funds to keep the school open; however, the closing was just as surprising to us as everyone else.”

But now, a year-and-a-half later, the Board of Education has finalized plans to purchase the building from its owner, the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Newark, for a price described as “well below market value.”

On Monday, Feb. 25, the Board of Education approved the purchase of Queen of Peace High School unanimously after a public presentation and hearing.

“We have successfully finalized the terms of a contract for sale in which the Archdiocese of Newark has agreed to sell the building, field and parking lot to the North Arlington Board of Education for $6.4 million, which is almost $2.3 million less than fair market value,” Yurchak said. “The purchase of the property and initial renovations are being funded fully by our capital projects account.”

The two-story building contains 30 general classrooms, a gym, has central air conditioning and a full-sized football field. The elementary school has been using the gym and football field while negotiations occurred, a process that took approximately 20 months.  The reason for the delay was the archdiocese was exploring all options and the North Arlington Board of Education had to ensure this was the best fit for its children while also making sure funds were used efficiently.

Yurchak also mentioned that operational costs, which includes heat, electric, water, insurance, phones, custodian supplies and a custodian would cost approximately $225,000 per year. He indicated there won’t be any bid proposals to renovate the building until all preliminary work has been finalized, along with the successful completion of the New Jersey Department of Education (NJDOE) application process.

“If it all goes well, we would begin accepting proposals in the fall.  Our goal is to complete the initial renovations for the opening of the 2020-2021 school year,” he said.

Yurchak said the former QPHS will become the new North Arlington Middle School, which will also house fifth- to eighth-graders.

“By reassigning our fifth-grade students, their classes can be departmentalized to assist in the transition to the secondary grades (6-12), more space would become available at our existing elementary schools and neighborhood schools could be reestablished, which has been a long-standing issue for the parents and children of North Arlington,” he said.

“Although we would love to have everything in place next school year, it’s is not logistically possible, nor would we want to rush such an important project. However, we are excited to breathe new life into this school building that will bring immediate benefits to the children of North Arlington.”

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