The former Madison Avenue K building at the Market-Madison intersection has been transformed into a full-service community center.
School officials said the center will serve both students and their parents. Students have a space with computers, Wi-Fi access, and printers to do their homework after school from 3-6 p.m. Space has capacity for 40 students.
Parents have three classes – one in the morning and two at night – to learn English, a key offering in a mostly Hispanic neighborhood. Each class has room for 30 adults. There are 50 people on a waiting list for no cost English as second language (ESL) courses.
There will also be a small businesses service center run by William Paterson University. It will provide marketing, accounting, business registration, QuickBooks, and other business training to parents and local businesses, said Kate Muldoon of William Paterson University. She said the center will begin by offering a Google class next month.
“This is just one example of us providing kids what they need,” said superintendent Eileen Shafer in a ribbon cutting ceremony on Thursday. Students often tell her they do not have Wi-Fi or devices at home, she said. “It’s a safe place for them to come.”
“There’s drugs and guns on the streets,” said mayor Andre Sayegh. “This can save lives.”
“We’re going to make sure the community gets the right resources,” added councilman Luis Velez.
Velez represents the area where the center is located.
Shafer intends to expand the district’s afterschool dinner program to the center, she said.
School officials said the district is providing the building and a site coordinator. Partner organizations are providing the various programs that will operate out of the center.
“Our kids are going to have a great experience here,” said school board member Emanuel Capers.
Capers and other school board members donated plants for a small garden on the Madison Avenue side of the building. Exterior of the building is also decorated with six student art works. A competition held for works garnered 30 entries, said school officials.
All of the entries were from high school students except one.
“I’m really surprised,” said 13-year-old Marquise Green, an eighth grader at School 24. He completed the artwork when he was in the seventh grade. His work is in black and white except a little speck of sky blue. “I was going to color it.”
His teacher Karen Lipari said one of Green’s painting hangs in the famous Gelotti Ice Cream in the Hillcrest section.
“We aim to remove barriers to learning that affects our families and threaten the full delivery of a quality of education,” said William McDowell, director of family and community engagement at the Paterson Public Schools.
Over the past two days the center served 115 parents and residents with classes and job training, said McDowell.
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