Unification News for July 1999

New Jersey School Moves Ahead Despite Setback

by Gareth Davies—Clifton, NJ

The plan to expand and develop our elementary school in New Jersey is moving forward despite a setback in May. Despite the eloquent and persuasive appeals of several members of the New Jersey community, the Clifton Zoning Board voted on May 5 to deny our application to renovate a disused industrial building and open a K-8 school. The two board members who voted in our favor pointed out that, of the possible uses for this building, ours was the most likely to improve the area and that, by opening a private school, we would save tens of thousands of dollars a year for the city of Clifton in educational costs. Those board members who opposed the idea cited issues relating to size and safety.

Our community was very well represented by the seven people who testified in support of the school. Mr. Greg Baron who is not a member of our church but lives near the building, delivered an impassioned appeal for fairness and for a recognition that the concerns regarding the building would be far outweighed by the positive contributions and influence which the school would bring to the neighborhood. He stated that, having known us for several years, he would warmly welcome us as his neighbors. He was followed by Brian Sabourin, Pierre Tardy, Jeanne Carroll, Ron Gurtakowski, Hope Igarashi and Mike Yurechko who all did an excellent job of explaining their own particular perspective on why the school is so important to them as teachers, parents, and members of the church community.

This was the third hearing in what turned out to be a protracted struggle. As is often the case, some negative media coverage fanned the flames surrounding the concerns of those who opposed the plan. This action by the Zoning Board is a setback but not a knock-out blow. Immediately following the meeting, we began moving forward on three fronts:

1. An evaluation of the possibility and merits of an appeal.
2. A search for a new facility.
3. Preparation of a transition plan which will allow the elementary school to continue to develop while a new facility is found and made ready.

According to the transition plan, Jin-A Child Care Center will house grades one to four from September. It is possible that the Jin-A facilities can be expanded by means of a modular classroom or office which can be leased at a very reasonable cost. This is currently being investigated further.

From September, we will continue to build on the excellent foundation built by Mrs. Jeanne Carroll in Red Oak School. That program will be supplemented with the addition of the Wise Skills character education program and the Core Knowledge Sequence developed by Dr. E.D. Hirsch. Both are proven, well-developed programs which have been used with much success in schools across America.

* If you are a parent of a child entering grades 1-4 and would like to receive more information about New Hope School and its programs, please call (973-279-1203) and request an information and registration package.

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