(TRENTON) — Assembly Education Committee Chairman Patrick J. Diegnan, Jr. (D-Middlesex) issued a multimedia package on Tuesday highlighting his recent tour of the Phillipsburg High School Schools Development Authority (SDA) project, which has been stalled in the second stage of development for several years, and calling into question the SDA’s decision not to include Phillipsburg in their list of 10 projects approved for fiscal year 2011.
The video was first shown during an Assembly Education Committee hearing on school construction and the criteria behind the SDA’s project selection.
The multimedia package consists of a video of Assemblyman Diegnan’s site tour and audio and a transcript of same.
The audio file is available upon request.
A transcript of comments from Assemblyman Diegnan and Phillipsburg officials follows:
Mark B. Miller, Superintendent, Phillipsburg School System:
“The loss of a generation being taught out of trailers is just appalling.”
George M. Chando, Assistant Superintendent, Phillipsburg School System:
“Right now your standing were academic classrooms would be, this whole section. The hill areas that you see represent where large core facilities — your cafeteria, your auditorium, your library and your gymnasium will go.
“We first began with a facility study back in late 1998 and 1999. And it was recommended that a new high school was needed. And the project was initially designed in 2003 and was within one month going out to bid for construction in June of 2005. And then all projects in the State of New Jersey were shut down.”
“We’re at a standstill.
“You see the project as it is, we’re ready to go, we’re within one foot of grade, ready for construction. DCA has three comments left, our architects are working on those and we’re ready to move.”
Assemblyman Patrick J. Diegnan, Jr. (D-Middlesex), Assembly Education Committee Chairman:
“When you talk about teaching a child, you talk about the environment, the educational environment — it’s the teacher, it’s the classroom, it’s the support staff. We visited the trailers in which these kids are really being forced to learn, and using learn in quotes. It’s amazing that the kids are performing as well as they are, under these circumstances.
“We as a society have to support our children, give them the tools they need, and this just simply unacceptable.”
Helene Meissner, Concerned Parent of a Phillipsburg High School Student:
“Well, my daughter along with all the other students here at the school do spend a good part of their day in the trailers.
“The trailers are not in the best of shape, but even more then that is the concerns with safety and security.”
“We have a number of students, that from our sending districts, that will go across the river into Pennsylvania, into private schools, because their parents don’t want their kids to go into trailers. We loose kids every single year because of the situation we have.”
“As a parent, as a taxpayer, as a community member, it is just so frustrating. We have been this close so many times only to have the rug pulled out from under us. And it’s just exasperating. We don’t know what to do anymore.
“We have done everything that was asked of us and then some. We have followed all of the guidelines. And to constantly be told it’s not good enough is very frustrating.”
“From a purely educational standpoint, it’s in my mind, ludicrous.
“You have the ability to move forward on a project like this. When you have half of your high school population being educated in trailers that have been around since 1996, it’s a travesty.
“It’s a travesty that we don’t move forward and give these kids of this school district a good place to learn in.”
“We waited a long time; we’ve worked cooperatively with everybody over this eight year period of time, to be able to bring this project to a point where it would be ready for construction.
“When you put effort in to that and you realize that you’re not part of this initial ten school project, you really feel bad for the students who continue to loose out in getting to a point where we’ll have a quality facility for them.”
“This reinforces my suspicions: there is simply no logical explanation why this project has not been approved.
“It’s shovel ready. The need is obvious. The location is perfect. The site has already been prepared. Apart from that, their money literally is being washed down the drain. We just walked and saw the erosion that’s taking place at a cost of close to a million dollars this year alone to mitigate that damage.
“It’s just absolutely… it’s absolutely an outrage that this project is not being started, and hopefully, we can change that.”