DMR has recently participated in construction milestone celebrations in four New Jersey municipalities, delivered through a variety of funding and procurement methods for projects that enhance the learning experience for school-aged children while also being fiscally responsible to residents.
In Carteret, sixth through eighth grade students recently began their second year in the new DMR-designed Junior High School. This is the successful culmination of a project that started with a referendum to build the first new education facility in the borough in 40 years. DMR played a key role in creating and presenting materials to residents about the need for a new school as well as the benefits to taxpayers.
“Our work in Carteret included adjusting the program to make sure that we adhered to a strict tax dollar value that was palpable to residents as well as selecting projects so that its five schools and all 4,000 students benefited from the referendum,” said Lloyd Rosenberg, AIA. “DMR was also involved in strategic planning with the Carteret School Board and Mayor on finding the best site for the new Junior High School that fit its educational needs and budget.”
In Plainfield, the DMR-designed Charles and Anna Booker Elementary School was constructed through the New Jersey Schools Development Authority design-build program. This is the first year for 700 K-fifth grade students to matriculate in the facility that replaces the outdated Woodland Elementary School with 41 classrooms in addition to rooms for science demonstrations, a technology lab, a media center, physical therapy, a speech room, a cafetorium, a multi-purpose room with a stage, a playground, and basketball courts.
The design-build method will also be used to fund the construction of Hudson County Vocational at Bayonne High School, a project for the Hudson County Schools of Technology, Bayonne Board of Education, Hudson County, and the Hudson County Improvement Authority. DMR is the architect of record for the project which recently broke ground and will provide vocational and career technical education in mechanics, construction, carpentry, plumbing, electrics, finance, digital communications, criminal justice, cosmetology, and medicine.
In New Brunswick, the DMR-designed Blanquita B. Valenti Community School just opened replacing the Lincoln Annex School, formerly St. Peter’s High School and Elementary School, which was demolished for construction of the state’s first free-standing cancer hospital.
“This was a very unique situation where the building had outgrown its benefits to the city but the land underneath it was valuable enough to fund a new state-of-the-art educational facility that will shape the minds of students for generations to come.”
DMR designed the three-story, 127,400 SF facility with advanced educational spaces including a media center, technology lab, makerspace, labs, and other traditional educational spaces.
“Just as each school system requires its own customized solutions for additional space, new technologies and teaching modalities, STEM labs and spaces for extracurricular activities, they also need tailored approaches to funding. Sometimes we take what we’ve learned working with one municipality and apply it in another because their education needs and funding barriers are similar.”
Among other funding sources for school districts is New Jersey’s Energy Saving Improvement Program [ESIP]. DMR-planned projects totaling more than $35 million in Edison, Hackensack, Tenafly are currently in progress. Through the program, energy-related projects, such as HVAC upgrades and solar panels, are funded using the value of the energy savings that result from the projects so that school boards do not have to utilize municipal capital reserves or utilize taxpayer dollars.