Willingboro welcomes students back to renovated schools

Published:September 9, 2013
Written by Rose Krebs, Staff Writer, Burlington County Times


Willingboro Schools
Outside the W.R. James Elementary School on Friday. The school was closed last year for renovations and reopened on Thursday for the start of the new school year.

WILLINGBORO — The W.R. James Elementary School welcomed students back last week with a new and improved look.

The school on Pinetree Lane again is filled with the sounds of students and staff in hallways and classrooms after being closed for a year because of construction.

On Friday, Superintendent Ronald Taylor and Orlando Chandler, the district’s facilities manager, showed off the improvements. “It reflects the character of our town that people want to invest in the schools the way they have,” Taylor said. “It really does raise the morale.”

The improvements are part of a $67.4 million construction project approved by voters in 2010. The project funds renovations to all eight district schools, including new mechanical and electrical systems, bathrooms, doors and windows.

Under the referendum, the cost of renovations at each school are: $18.2 million at the high school, $8.1 million at the Levitt School, $13.1 million at the Memorial Middle School, $6 million at the J.C. Stuart Elementary School, $5.6 million at the Hawthorne Elementary School, $5.6 million at the Twin Hills Elementary School, $5.4 million at the Garfield East Elementary School, and $5.4 million at W.R. James.

Editors Note: The $18.2 million High School and the $13.1 Middle School designs were by Garrison Architects of Marlton.

James and Hawthorne were closed last year so construction could be completed. Students were relocated to the McGinley and S.W. Bookbinder schools for the 2012-13 year. Those schools were closed for budgetary reasons a few years ago.

When students returned to W.R. James on Thursday, they were welcomed into a building with new windows, doors and brick façade; an upgraded multipurpose room; and new mechanical and ventilation systems.

Taylor said he believes an improved appearance can impact student performance and lead to more school pride.

Chandler said that the work was completed in time for school to open as scheduled, and that only minor issues are still being completed. “The staff, from our custodians to the business administrator and teachers, has worked hard to bring this to fruition,” Taylor said.

Students at the Memorial Middle School have been relocated for the 2013-14 school year while renovations are made. Sixth-graders are attending the McGinley School on Middlebury Lane, and seventh- and eighth-graders are attending Levitt on Martin Luther King Jr. Drive. Levitt, formerly a middle school, was housing an alternative program and a gifted and talented program. Those programs will operate at the Bookbinder School on Brooklawn Drive for 2013-14.

Renovations to all schools, except Levitt, will be completed by the end of this school year, officials have said. The school board has yet to decide if renovations at Levitt will be done. ”



Back to NEWS