State and local officials broke ground on a new middle school on the site of the old Don Bosco Technical Institute on Union Avenue on Wednesday morning.
Once constructed, the new school will have 163,000 square feet of space to educate 1,100 students in grades 6-8. There will be 36 general classrooms, 9 science labs, 6 special education classrooms, 3 art rooms, 3 science-math-technology project labs, six small group instruction rooms, occupational therapy room, physical therapy sensory room, cafetorium, stage and dance studio, gymnasium, music instruction room, computer lab, and a media center.
“As we break ground for the new middle school this community can envision the state of the art facility that will rise and provide students with the inviting educational spaces and tools they need to succeed in the future,” said Manuel Da Silva, interim chief executive officer for the New Jersey School Development Authority (SDA). “I hope that you will find it even better than you imagined when it’s complete.”
The school is expected to open for students in Sept. 2021. The state began site preparation work in July. On Wednesday morning, construction crews were working at the site.
Students enrolled in the school will be provided one-to-one computer devices.
“This is an event of affirmation we’re affirming today to the families of these children and to our community that the Paterson Public Schools are working very hard to provide our families and children with best facilities possible for a thorough and efficient education,” said superintendent Eileen Shafer. Some of the district’s buildings are over 100 years old, she said. “To put it plainly we cannot educate our children of the 21st century in 19th century buildings.”
Since 2016, the school district has been busing students of the old Don Bosco Middle School, mostly from the Hillcrest and Totowa neighborhoods, across town to the old Paterson Catholic building on 11th Avenue.
“This definitely has been long overdue. Our students, as many of you know, our babies are being transported across town. So, building the new Don Bosco is not only for the safety of our children, but for peace of mind for our parents that now they will be able to have their students in the section of town that they live in,” said school board president Oshin Castillo.
Both the new building that is being built and the purchase of the former Paterson Catholic building amounts to $113.9 million in SDA investment in Paterson. State officials said the Paterson Catholic building will be turned over to the school district once construction on the new middle school is finished.
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