Education a Critical Issue in New Brunswick

There are ten public schools in the City of New Brunswick, which are operated by the New Brunswick Board of Education and serve the vast majority of children in the city.

Until 2012, New Brunswick was the only municipality in Middlesex County that did not directly elect its Board of Education.  In November of that year, voters narrowly decided to change to an elected board.

Now, each year, elections are held in April for the three of the nine seats on the board.  Board meetings are still not recorded or televised, unlike many other school districts.

The Board of Education members are President Patricia Sadwoski, Benito Ortiz, Dale Caldwell, Emra Seawood, Edward Spencer, Franchesca Rodriguez, Ronald Hush, Patricia Varela, and Jennifer Shukaitis.

Only Sadowski and Ortiz have faced challengers in the elections.  Shukaitis is the only unelected member, as she was appointed in June 2015 to replace John Krenos, who resigned.  The other board members have run for election, but faced no opposition.

The Superintendent of Schools is Richard Kaplan, but he is set to retire at the end of the 2014-2015 school year.  Aubrey Johnson was hired to replace Kaplan starting July 1, 2015.

New Brunswick is one of 31 school districts in New Jersey known as "Abbott districts," because they receive special court-mandated state funding as a result of the well-known Abbott v. Burke NJ State Supreme Court ruling.

New Brunswick Public Schools operates seven elementary schools: Redshaw, Roosevelt, Lincoln, Woodrow Wilson, Paul Robeson, Lord Stirling, and McKinley.  A pair of private schools known as St. Peter's are currently undergoing a renovation that would make them into a new elementary school.

NBPS also operates New Brunswick Middle School and two High Schools: New Brunswick High School and Health Sciences Technology High School.

The city also operates an Adult Learning Center, one of the few adult high schools in the area.

New Brunswick Free Public Library

The city operates a free public library on Livingston Avenue. The library was built, after much controversy, using funds from industrialist Andrew Carnegie and was completed in 1903.

Adjacent to the library is the Henry Guest House, a historic farmhouse that was moved to its current location in 1926.

Private and Charter Schools

In addition to the city's public schools, New Brunswick is also home to the Greater Brunswick Charter School, which serves residents of New Brunswick and several surrounding municipalities.

In June 2010, St. Peter's High School, the city's last private school closed.  At one time, eight private elementary and secondary schools were operated by the Roman Catholic Diocese in the city.

Technical Schools

Middlesex County Vocational Technical School on Easton Avenue closed several years ago.

Temporary Warehouse Schools

From 1916 to 1964, high school students in New Brunswick attended what would later become Chester A. Redshaw Elementary School. In 1964, the New Brunswick High School moved to Livingston Avenue near the border with North Brunswick. In January 2010, the High School moved to its current location on Route 27 along the border with Franklin Township.

Redshaw Elementary was demolished in 2006 to make way for a replacement elementary school, but a now defunct state agency responsible for building and expanding schools, the School Construction Corporation (SCC), announced 27 school projects including the new Redshaw would be canceled due to unacceptable cost overruns on other projects. The plot of land that the school used to occupy is fenced off and vacant.

Before being shut down and dismantled, the SCC announced the final approvals for the construction of a new New Brunswick High School.

Currently, due to overcrowding, those who would be attending Redshaw Elementary are just some of the students that have attended classes in two large warehouses on Van Dyke Avenue leased by the Board of Education for much of the past decade.

 

Charlie is a community organizer, a Rutgers journalism graduate, and a 2018 independent candidate for Mayor of New Brunswick.

He can be reached at (732) 993-9697 or [email protected]