By David Cruz
“I wanna say thank you to Gov. Christie,” Jersey City Mayor Steve Fulop said.
Fulop might’ve been having a little fun at Gov. Chris Christie’s expense when he thanked the governor at today’s groundbreaking. But the fact remains that without state help this new pre-K to fifth grade school would not have been possible, and for this neighborhood, could not have come at a better time.
“The Heights is the place to be; that’s pretty clear. You see people moving up here from other areas of Hudson County, Hoboken predominately, moving a little further back and beautiful views of the city and you see more and more families here; it’s really a good thing. The school is needed,” Fulop said.
The city expects its school population to jump by 25 percent over the next two years, with a particular increase in kids from pre-K to fifth grade. That’s a big jump for a system that is already bursting at the seams. This new school — price tag $54 million — will serve over 700 students and feature 10 pre-K classrooms.
“We have our schools where, in terms of early childhood, we’re sending students out; they’re not in their home schools for early childhood. We have students in this area, not too far from here, in trailers, so we know that as soon as we really are ready to open, it will be full immediately,” said Jersey City Public Schools Superintendent Marcia Lyles.
But, not everyone here is on board with the new school. Councilman Rich Boggiano was part of a group that fought against a proposed strip mall on this site, which has been vacant for a decade.
“I know there’s a need for schools but this area should’ve been houses. I mean we have the reservoir over here, which you can’t build on. You can’t build on this now. You know, it’s a shame,” he said.
It’s a sure bet the new school won’t be named after Councilman Boggiano but its working name, Elementary School Number Three is already taken. The name Chris Christie Elementary is available, though. But, in the current political climate, might be a bit of stretch. The new school — whatever it’s named — is scheduled to open for the 2016 school year.