Then tenth through 12th grades at North Bergen High School will be moved to the former county high school campus on 85th Street in 2019, after the city completes an estimated $15 to $20 million purchase of one building with classrooms, labs, and an attached gymnasium, presently owned by the county’s High Tech High School. The exact amount and payment schedule are still being worked out between the township and county, said Mayor Sacco in a press conference on Monday, Oct. 24.
The plan is meant to reduce overcrowing, Sacco said. It will reduce the number of students at the current school by more than 25 percent, from 2,450 to 1,800. The new building will house grades 10 through 12, and the current high school will house grades seven through nine.
Seventh and eighth graders currently attend local elementary schools. But starting in 2019, elementary schools will continue only up to sixth grade. Every elementary school will have more classroom space, allowing for full time classrooms for art, music, and other subjects and lower student-to-teacher ratios.
The move is being made to deal with overcrowding.
Officials from the North Bergen Board of Education, North Bergen Township, county of Hudson, and the Hudson County Schools of Technology are currently negotiating the terms of the plan. All of them have agreed on several key elements, including moving North Bergen High School into the building with classrooms, a culinary arts lab, and a gym, and the Hudson County Schools of Technology using the building after regular school hours for its Adult School program.
HCST’s bus transportation parking will remain at the site even after the move, and some of the busses will pick up North Bergen students and bring them to the new high school, eliminating a safety problem with students crossing busy Tonnelle Avenue.
North Bergen will conduct renovations to the facility in 2018 once the school is empty, and the new high school is estimated to open in 2019. The city will look for state aid and grant funding for the upgrades.
“They are confident that will happen, but even if it doesn’t, the cost is dramatically lower than building from the ground up,” said school district spokesman Phil Swibinski.
The payment terms to the county school district are still being discussed, and will most likely be paid out over time, not in one lump sum, Swibinski said. “The cost could be lower if we get state aid or a grant,” Swibinski said.
Swelling with students
Built in 1961, the current North Bergen High School was designed to accommodate 1,800 students, but now holds 2,450, including many from Guttenberg, the small, adjacent town that lacks its own high school.
The new high school will include a larger media center and both small and large classrooms. It will also come equipped with amenities such as air conditioning, STEM labs, culinary arts facilities Wi-Fi, parking, and security systems.
For the move, teachers and students at the high school will follow a block schedule for 80-minute classes. Currently, the classes are 40 minutes, but Superintendent George Solter said that’s not enough time for teachers and students. “It will help the students get a deeper understanding of the subject,” Solter said.
About 20 students took a tour of the new building after the press conference. They saw the culinary class and kitchen, and had lunch in the cafeteria.
Finding solutions for pre-k trailers in Braddock Park
In hopes of removing the preschool trailers from James Braddock Park, Solter and Sacco said the district and town are looking to allow pre-school and kindergarten students to move into various local elementary schools. But no plan has been announced as of yet.