NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ—Starting this fall, several dozen New Brunswick students will comprise the very first class of a special new school that will open inside a rented warehouse on Van Dyke Avenue.
It's part of a new initiative revealed by Governor Phil Murphy on November 27, which aims to prepare students in three New Jersey cities for what he referred to as “new collar jobs.”
The initiative, known as P-TECH (Pathways in Technology Early College High School), is an attempt to provide a Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) curriculum by partnering up with local community colleges and industry professionals.
In addition to the New Brunswick, the Panther Academy in Paterson and Burlington City High School will also launch their own P-TECH schools.
New Brunswick’s corporate partner will be Edwards Engineering, a civil engineering firm that specializes in government projects on the municipal and state level. The firm's past projects include the Amtrak Autotrain in Sanford, Florida and the U.S Postal Service Bulk Mail Distribution Center in Philadelphia.
At their January 15 meeting, the New Brunswick Board of Education approved a lease agreement to directly rent the warehouse at 40 Van Dyke Avenue that has previously served as a temporary school for much of the past fifteen years.
In response to questions from New Brunswick Today, Superintendent Aubrey Johnson said the new P-TECH school will launch in the space next year with 40-50 students, and is slated to expand to serve close to 300 students within three years.
Johnson said the district was "still roughing out the whole P-TECH model from the grant we received from the state," and also noted that it would examine potential configurations of the warehouse that might further alleviate overcrowding in the district's middle and high schools.
The two-year lease with Wick Companies, LLC to began on December 6, 2018. Wick's warehouse was previously rented by the NJ Schools Development Authority, which handles school construction for New Brunswick and 30 other cities.
According to P-TECH’s website, the goal of the program is to achieve “100% completion of an associate degree within 6 years” for the students that participate.
Governor Murphy said that students in the program will be able to earn their associates degree with zero added cost.
“Every P-Tech Student is paired with an industry mentor,” said Grace Suh, one of the program developers at IBM. “That mentor shines a light on student’s strengths and serves as an inspiration for them and a source of academic help.”
Suh also made it clear that P-Tech is aimed at being a stepping stone for future opportunities as many former P-Tech students have gone on to pursue traditional four year college degrees and “new collar jobs” in their chosen fields.
“The first cohort of P-Tech students have a graduation rate four times greater than the national community college graduation rate,” said Suh. “No P-Tech student has taken a remedial college course.”
“[New Brunswick High School] will join more than one hundred and ten high schools in at least nine other states,” said Governor Murphy in his announcement of the initiative. “At these high schools, our students will receive a STEM intensive public education that will lay a direct path to college and a career.”
From a combination of state and federal funding, each school will receive $300,000, according to the Paterson Times.
P-TECH is expected to be rolled out in more New Jersey schools if it is successful in the first three cities.