Greenwich approves March Referendum

   

Wednesday, December 17, 2003 By Theresa Katalinas
tkatalinas@sjnewsco.com


GREENWICH TWP. -- The board of education Tuesday unanimously voted to go out for a $12.5 million bond referendum for the expansion and renovation of Nehaunsey School.

If the voter referendum is approved at the March 9 poll, the fifth- through eighth-grade school would house all district students who are currently split among the middle school and kindergarten through fourth-grade Greenwich Township School on Broad Street.

The move came after more than an hour of closed session discussion and against the wishes of a handful of residents who spoke in favor of keeping the historic school open.

Besides the plan to move all students to Nehaunsey School, the board also weighed an $18.2 million alternative, unveiled Tuesday night by Garrison Architects. The option involved extensive renovations -- and expansions tallying $1.3 million -- at both schools.

Resident Lou Fabiani said the alternative was best because it kept Greenwich School in use. Other choices the board considered included a $15 million option to purchase a 22-acre parcel, scrap both schools and build an entirely new school and a $15 million plan to build a new kindergarten through eighth-grade school behind the Broad Street site.

Officials have said housing all students at Nehaunsey School is the most cost-effective measure and would likely garner the most state funding.
But, resident Fran Traband said the board has ignored keeping Greenwich School open as the primary school, even though she said that's the option residents want most.

"That is history in this town," Traband said. "We never wanted this school to begin with."

Board President Frank Minniti said the board has followed the directives put forth by a 30-member task force appointed to determine the best solutions to the schools' excessive room and numerous problems.

"Their recommendation was that it was not an option," Minniti said.
Task force member Marian LaVella said residents should put aside their sentimental feelings and do what's best for everyone.

"We have to look at this realistically," LaVella said. "You're bringing risk to the children at (Greenwich) School."

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