The Livingston Board of Education Wednesday unanimously approved a measure to allow voters to decide March 12 to proceed with new school construction at six elementary schools.
Livingston Superintendent Dr. Brad Draeger is concerned new students will squeeze the elementary schools in the foreseeable future – unless Livingston acts now.
The district expects as many as 300 addition students to be added to the system by 2015.
“I think Livingston finds itself at the juxtaposition right now,” Draeger said. “This is a tough decision. We’re still in tough economic times. But interest rates are low. And we really do see the need that if you want Livingston Public Schools to maintain their quality, they need some breathing space for new students coming in, and for special education students returning to district.”
This project would renovate three learning resource centers at Harrison Elementary School, Riker Hill Elementary School and Collins Elementary School– bringing these schools on par with the newer centers at Livingston’s other elementary schools. In turn, aging learning resource centers at those schools will be converted into classroom space.
The construction would also add classrooms at Hillside Elementary School and Burnet Hill Elementary School. All of the work offers more flexibility for reducing the schools’ crowding. The concern is in a few years, art, music and world language curriculum and instruction could suffer.
The work would also include Americans with Disabilities Act compliance improvements at Livingston High School.
If approved by voters, the referendum would allow the district to issue bonds to finance the $18.2 million in projects.
The board of education has been discussing and analyzing the impact of four proposed housing developments in Livingston.
Elementary schools already are operating at capacity and the plan is to build enough classrooms to hold the additional students from these new developments.