BROOKLAWN NJ (FEBRUARY 4, 2013)--The Brooklawn Board of Education has approved a March 12, 2013 date to hold a bond referendum to borrow $1,825,000 to purchase the St. Maurice church and rectory and to renovate the buildings to classroom and office space. The St. Maurice properties, 401 Community Road, are adjacent to the Alice Costello School and have been vacant since the Diocese of Camden consolidated three local parishes, St. Maurice, St. Anne in Westville, and Annunciation BVM to form St. Joachim Parish in Bellmawr.
The plan calls for the construction of classrooms, a stage, and other instructional locations and the relocation of Grades 6, 7, and 8 from the current building to the church to establish the Brooklawn Middle School. The plan would also allow the district to create self-contained special education programs that would allow Brooklawn special education students who currently are sent to out-of-district programs at considerable cost to the taxpayer, to remain in the district. In addition, other special programs, including a state-of-the art Brooklawn Virtual Center that will benefit the entire community are being planned. The purchase may also provide additional office space for the borough. The Board is committed to acquiring the St. Maurice property at no cost to local taxpayers and to maintain the current exterior of the church and rectory.
Board of Education President, Bruce Darrow, commented, “The Board is committed to upgrading and expanding current school facilities, creating exciting new programs and opportunities not just for our students but for the entire community, and at the same time preserving the St. Maurice buildings, which have been such an important part of the heritage of Brooklawn. The thought of a corporation purchasing St. Maurice and tearing the church down is very upsetting. If the Board purchases the properties, they will remain in the control of the community.
Darrow continued, “Through innovative financial strategies and the provision of an outstanding education and extra-curricular activities, the school district has been at the minimum tax levy for more than 10 years now, has built a library, gym, and has made extensive renovations to the current school building, and all without any cost to the local taxpayers. The Board is committed to acquiring St. Maurice without any impact on taxes. We built a gym and library at no cost to taxpayers. We replaced the roof, windows, and boilers at no cost to taxpayers. We operate a community library at no cost to taxpayers. And we hope to acquire St. Maurice at no cost to taxpayers. The Board remains committed to working with the entire community, including Mayor and Council, to find innovative ways to continue the success of the school district for the benefit of not only the students but all the residents of Brooklawn.”