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Tips and Snippets: School Board Decides to Close Highland Park School, Estimate Savings $110,000

 By Bill Cleary

SCHOOL BOARD CLOSING HP SCHOOL-The rumors about the Highland Park 6a00d8341bf7d953ef0111688fb252970c-120wi School, Park Avenue and Highland Blvd., being closed are true, according to Gloucester City School Supt. Paul Spaventa. The gossip about shutting down the school has been circulating throughout the City since March. Why a formal announcement about the closing to the public wasn't released is puzzling. After all this move will save the school district money. 
On Thursday (April 21) Spaventa said  “Highland Park School will be closing but the Program for Success and Adult Night School will remain intact. Exact arrangements for accommodations of the programs are taking place and not finalized.” 

Spaveta was asked if this move was made to save taxpayers money; and will the building be sold?
"The Board of Education has not officially stated their plans for the building but we will be closing it over the summer. I would imagine an offer would not be turned down! The conservative estimate of savings on the building is approximately $110,000. We are not replacing Martin O'Connor (principal of the Cold Springs School) but reallocating administrative duties. That saves an additional $144,000,” he said. 
 Highland Park Principal Victoria C. Ernst sent a letter home to the parents of the students who attend the school on March 23. It reads in part, “Starting in September 2011, the Highland Park Program for Success will be located in C-Wing of the Gloucester City Jr.Sr. High School. The unique structure and family like qualities of our program will remain the same, only the location is changing.
“For those students who utilize our Teddy Bear Care, rest assure that the daycare will still be a very important part of our program," she said.
The move to the high school offers the 45 students who go to classes at the HP school access to wireless internet, computer access, library and gymnasiums things they do not have now said Ernst. The program at HP has been in existence for 11 years.

Although not confirmed by Spaventa, a source said the plans call for the 7th and 8th graders to vacate about seven classrooms after 1 PM to accommodate the HP students. The 7th and 8th grades will then take gym, music, art and health in a different part of the building.

The Highland Park School was one of four Neighborhood Schools to be closed as a result of the District coming under Abbott in the early 90's. Gloucester City is one of 31 school districts in the state. Those four buildings (Brown Street School, Broadway School, Gloucester Hts. School and Highland Park School) were found to be outdated and needed major repairs. As such they were closed. Some students were moved to the new Cold Springs School and others were placed in the Mary Ethel School.

But several years later the District obtained Abbott funds to renovate the HP School in order to house students in the Program for Success and Adult Night School. Several million dollars was spent on those renovations.

As for the other three school buildings, the Broadway building is being used by the EPA for offices, the Brown Street building was given to the PAL, and Gloucester Heights school was sold to a book depository company.

It will remain to be seen whether or not the School Board can sell the Highland Park School for enough money to regroup the millions of tax dollars that were spent on the renovations.
  • What do you think about the school closing?
  • What do the school board candidates think about this move? Are you for or against it?
  • Comment below.


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