By Lisa Kopochinski
PATERSON, N.J.—The New Jersey Schools Development Authority (SDA) began site preparation work in June for the new Union Avenue Middle School project in Paterson, a city of approximately 145,000 located in Passaic County.
The new four-story educational facility will span 160,000 square feet and educate approximately 1,100 6th to 8th grade students. Designed to address the city’s overcrowding issues—particularly in middle school grades—the new middle school will feature 36 general classrooms, nine science labs, six special education classrooms, three art rooms, three science/math/tech project labs, six small group instruction rooms, an occupational therapy room, physical therapy sensory room, cafetorium, stage/dance studio, gymnasium, music/instrument room, computer lab and media center.
In June, the SDA (which is a state agency responsible for fully funding and managing new construction, modernization and renovation of school facilities projects) authorized Epic Management, Inc. of Piscataway, New Jersey to begin site preparation work on the $57.9 million project. Work includes layout and surveying, fence modification, soil erosion controls, site grading, and temporary electrical service installation.
“The SDA is committed to improving the educational facilities in the 31 SDA districts and we look forward to advancing this goal in the Paterson Public School District with our partners in the school district and community,” said SDA Interim Chief Executive Officer Manuel Da Silva.
“The new Union Avenue Middle School will not only help alleviate overcrowding in Paterson’s schools, but will also provide a safe state-of-the-art learning experience where the children of this community can thrive.”
At an SDA board meeting on June 5, a $1.79 million contract was also approved for Cambridge Construction Management of Clinton New Jersey to provide construction management services for this project.
“We owe it to our students to provide them with first-class educational facilities,” said Paterson Mayor Andre Sayegh. “Paterson is in dire need of new schools and we appreciate SDA’s commitment to our children.”
Added Eileen Shafer, superintendent of the Paterson Public School District, “We are very pleased that the SDA has moved forward on the Union Avenue Middle School project. The need for new public school facilities cannot be overstated in a district that is educating children in too many buildings that are more than 100 years old. We look forward to working in partnership with the SDA on this and other future school facility projects to help ensure we are doing everything we can to provide Paterson students the best education possible.”
Union Avenue Middle School is expected to open to students in September 2021.
Since its inception in 2007, the New Jersey Schools Development Authority has invested nearly $525 million in active and completed projects in the Paterson School District. This amount also includes monies invested by the School Construction Corporation. Prior to becoming the SDA, the Schools Development Authority was the SCC.