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NEWARK'S IRONBOUND SCHOOLS: NEGLECTED, OVERCROWDED AND CRUMBLING

November 7, 2013

The Ironbound is a vibrant, multi-ethnic neighborhood in Newark, the East Ward section of the city. The community has eight public schools serving students in prekindergarten through eighth grade: Wilson Avenue, Wilson Early Childhood Center, Hawkins Street, Lafayette Street, Lafayette Street Annex, Ann Street, South Street, and Oliver Street. East Side High School serves Ironbound high school students. There are no charter schools in the Ironbound.

All Ironbound schools are operated by the State-operated Newark School District (NPS). Citywide, NPS operates 71 schools serving 37,443 students. NPS is classified as an "SDA District," eligible for full funding from the State for emergent repairs, capital maintenance, and replacement or renovation of its school buildings, through the NJ Department of Education (DOE) and the NJ Schools Development Authority (SDA).

An ELC analysis of NPS building conditions shows that the Ironbound schools are among the most neglected, overcrowded and dilapidated in the city. Oliver Street is ranked as the second worst school facility in Newark. Wilson ECC ranks 4th, Lafayette Street Annex 6th, and South Street 11th.

Below is a summary of the existing conditions of Ironbound schools. Each school has a Facility Conditions Index rating (FCI), which is a nationally-recognized method of assessing the physical condition of a school facility. The FCI is used by school districts to document the physical characteristics of instructional and other spaces in school buildings and to inform district management and facilities planning. The higher the FCI, the poorer the relative condition of the facility. Schools with an FCI of 36-50% are in poor condition, while schools with an FCI of greater than 50% are very poor and in need of replacement.

In addition, the cost of repairing deficiencies, as reflected in the FCI rating, is given for each school, along with the cost of replacing the building. These assessments are critical in determining the cost effectiveness of repairing a school as opposed to replacing it – though it may be cheaper to repair a school, it may not be cost effective to do so. As the data shows, most Ironbound schools are so old and dilapidated, and the repair costs so significant, that it would be wasteful to spend millions on short-term repairs. As a rule, it is prudent to replace a building when the repair costs approach 50% of the replacement cost.

The Ironbound schools were built between 1869 and 1911. All are overcrowded, some are seriously over capacity. All schools are in poor or very poor condition. Four buildings have an FCI score greater than 50%, which means they should be promptly replaced with new schools. The school-by-school summary is below:

 

Ann Street School

Students served: Prekindergarten-grade 8

2012-2013 Enrollment/Adjusted Capacity: 1340/720 (Overcrowded)

Year Built: 1891, Last Addition: 1916

Facility Condition Index Score: 52%

Facility Condition: Very Poor

FCI Deficiency Cost: $10,122,707

FCI Replacement Cost: $ 19,513,106

 

East Side High School

Students served: Grades 9-12

2012-2013 Enrollment/Adjusted Capacity: 1467/1075 (Overcrowded)

Year Built: 1911, Last Addition: 1979

Facility Condition Index Score: 48%

Facility Condition: Poor

FCI Deficiency Cost: $ 32,758,518

FCI Replacement Cost: $68, 269, 725

 

Hawkins Street School

Students served: Prekindergarten-grade 8

2012-2013 Enrollment/ Adjusted Capacity: 523/499 (Overcrowded)

Year Built: 1887, Last Addition: 1950

Facility Condition Index Score: 42%

Facility Condition: Poor

FCI Deficiency Cost: $6,393, 533

FCI Replacement Cost: $14,264,456

 

Lafayette Street School

Students served: Prekindergarten-grade 8

2012-2013 Enrollment/Adjusted Capacity: 1118/650 (Overcrowded)

Year Built: 1908, Last Addition: None

Facility Condition Index Score: 51%

Facility Condition: Very Poor

FCI Deficiency Cost: $ 7,156,181

FCI Replacement Cost: $14,026,856

 

Lafayette Street Annex Building

Prekindergarten and Kindergarten for Lafayette Street School   

2012-13 Enrollment/Adjusted Capacity: Included in Lafayette Street School

Year Built: 1911

Facility Condition Index Score: 55%

Facility Condition: Very Poor

FCI Deficiency Cost: $1,446,200

FCI Replacement Cost: $ 2,642, 681

 

Oliver Street School

Students served: Prekindergarten-grade 8

2012-2013 Enrollment/Adjusted Capacity: 905/627 (Overcrowded)

Year Built: 1869, Last Addition: 1921

Facility Condition Index Score: 57%

Facility Condition: Very Poor

FCI Deficiency Cost: $10,963,413

FCI Replacement Cost: $19,222,500

 

South Street School

Students served: Prekindergarten-grade 5

2012-2013 Enrollment/Adjusted Capacity: 343/266 (Overcrowded)

Year Built: 1883, Last Addition: 1900

Facility Condition Index Score: 52%

Facility Condition: Very Poor

FCI Deficiency Cost: $ 2,691,293

FCI Replacement Cost: $ 5,203,894

 

Wilson Avenue School

Students served: Kindergarten-grade 8

2012-2013 Enrollment/Adjusted Capacity: 928/415 (Overcrowded)

Year Built: 1881, Last Addition: 1924

Facility Condition Index Score: 46%

Facility Condition: Poor

FCI Deficiency Cost: $8,142,930

FCI Replacement Cost: $ 17,719,556

 

Wilson ECC Annex

Students served: Prekindergarten for Wilson Avenue School

2012-13 Enrollment/Adjusted Capacity: Included in Wilson Avenue School

Year Built: 1900

Facility Condition Index Score: 56%

Facility Condition: Very Poor

FCI Deficiency Cost: $762,708

FCI Replacement Cost: $1,367,025

 

In 2007, the DOE approved NPS's Long Range Facilities Plan (LRFP), as required by law. In the 2007 LRFP, NPS calls for replacing every Ironbound prekindergarten-8 school with a new building, given the age, overcrowding and poor condition of the facility. NPS also proposes building a new East Side High School on a different site and renovating the existing building as a prekindergarten-8 school to relieve overcrowding in the Ironbound.

Since approval of the LRPF in 2007, the DOE and SDA have not completed any of the replacement school projects in the Ironbound. The SDA is about to begin construction to replace the Oliver Street School with a new building for 850 students, which is insufficient to accommodate current Oliver enrollment. There is no schedule or timeframe for the DOE and SDA to begin construction of any of the remaining replacement schools. Because of severe overcrowding, NPS intends to keep the existing Oliver Street School in operation, despite its very poor condition.

Given the deplorable condition of the Ironbound schools, it is imperative that the NPS administration take immediate steps to press the DOE and SDA to promptly begin construction of the long planned, new South Street school, and to begin pre-construction activities on the remaining schools, including a new East Side High School.  Education Law Center urges Newark parents, city officials and other concerned citizens to support the effort to ensure all Newark children attend school in facilities that are safe, not overcrowded, and educationally adequate for a 21st-century education.

 

Press Contact:

Sharon Krengel
Policy and Outreach Director
skrengel@edlawcenter.org
973-624-1815, x 24