Under fiscal strains from state underfunding and charter school expansions, the city’s school district is planning to sell four school buildings to generate an anticipated $11.35 million in revenue.
The district is looking to sell the old Paterson board of education building on Church Street for an anticipated $4 million, a church building it owns on Smith Street for $3.6 million, the old School 5 on Totowa Avenue for 1.77 million, and School 11 on Market Street for $2 million.
Half of the buildings – Church Street and Totowa Avenue structures – have been vacant for years. The Church Street building was the previous headquarter of the Paterson Public Schools while the Old School 5 served as the offices of the food services department of the district some years ago.
The district plans to relocate the two schools on Market Street and Smith Street to elsewhere. Some school board members wondered why the district is selling off properties if it is leasing classroom space at other locations.
School board member Jonathan Hodges opposed selling the school buildings. State-appointed district superintendent Donnie Evans said some of the buildings are vacant and do not house schools.
“Why would we sell what we own and lease?” asked board member Lilisa Mimms. “Selling properties is never a good thing especially when you are leasing.” She suggested refurbishing the four buildings and relocating some of the schools that are housed in lease buildings to generate cost savings.
Mimms appeared to suggest selling the properties will result in a one-time boost in revenue while lease agreements will continue the out flow of dollars that could be better spent in programs. “Refurnishing buildings will definitely save us more money than what we’re spending on leasing,” she said.
There were some talks of rehabilitating the old headquarter of the Paterson school district on Church Street (pictured). It’s not clear whether the district performed rehab work at the site.
School board member Flavio Rivera, chairman of the fiscal committee, has in the past said, selling real assets like properties take considerable amount of time. He indicated the sale of the properties may not generate revenue for this year’s budget, but help in subsequent years.