North Bergen Board of Education

North Bergen Board of Education officials announced today that the official opening of the new, Junior High School west campus will be delayed, and the opening will now occur in September, 2025, as concern for the safety of students and staff takes priority while major infrastructure and flood mitigation work continues.

A press release states, “The two projects, one being led by the Township of North Bergen and one by the North Bergen MUA, are expected to reduce flooding to improve quality of life and enhance the safety of the new campus and surrounding neighborhood. While construction of the new campus is moving on at a brisk pace, district leaders have decided to delay the school’s opening until after the infrastructure projects are substantially completed.”

The new campus is located on the former site of the Hudson County Schools of Technology’s High Tech High School, just west of Tonnelle Avenue on 85th Street.

“The safety and health of our students, faculty and administrators must always come first, and after much deliberation we have concluded that the most responsible choice we can make is to delay the opening of the Junior High School until these critical flood mitigation projects are completed,” said Superintendent of Schools Dr. George Solter. “Construction of the new school continues to advance, but with major construction happening so close to the campus we feel that it would not be safe to bring students into that environment until the work is substantially completed. We look forward to sharing more updates about the school in the coming year and to the full realization of our School Realignment Plan next September.”

Once completed, the North Bergen School Realignment Plan will result in smaller class sizes and the return of dedicated classrooms for art, music and other subjects throughout the district’s schools.

Students in the 7th and 8th grades will be moved out of their neighborhood elementary schools into the new, Junior High School, while 9th grade students will move from North Bergen High School, creating additional classroom space throughout the district.

The press release goes on to say, “The Township of North Bergen has retained Boswell Engineering to complete a state grant funded flood mitigation and drainage improvement project on Mazzoni Place, which is a small street that runs through the campus. The project will result in increased sewer capacity and improved stormwater management, with construction expected to be completed in late 2024 pending state approval. Concurrently, the North Bergen MUA project is expected to begin construction in the coming months at the site of the Junior High School campus’ lower parking lot. When completed it will allow the Township to be in compliance with State Department of Environmental Protection mandates calling for the capture of untreated wastewater that the existing combined sanitary system can’t handle during periods of peak flow. The project has been delayed pending approval from the New Jersey State Comptroller’s Office, which was granted this month after the proposal was originally submitted in July 2022.”

Construction on the new school began nearly two years ago in March 2022, following delays caused by lawsuits filed by opponents of the project that were dismissed in court.

Progress was then delayed further by the COVID-19 pandemic, which resulted in a shutdown of construction activities for a prolonged period.

In April, 2023 the district’s construction manager handling the project tragically died which caused further delays as new personnel was put in place.  “This was coupled with global supply chain issues making it difficult to procure essential building materials like steel and electrical and plumbing components in a timely fashion, which impacted the original construction timeline.”

2 COMMENTS

  1. The local and state problems related to what is going on with North Bergen’s 4-year delay in renovating and converting the High Tech HS into a middle school is something that Hudnews is not covering…

    There is no evidence that either NJ DEP nor NJ DOE gave North Bergen permission to illegally place its preschool in Braddock Park in 2001, yet the preschool remains, due to faulty and/or nonexistent (required) compliance inspections and the state’s refusal to enforce regulations.

    It took NJ DEP 10 years and two problematic inspections before it issued violations for North Bergen’s non-compliance with environmental regulations.

    NJ DOE never issued violations for North Bergen’s non-compliance with NJAC 6A:26-3.13(g), which does not allow trailers to be used for school purposes for more than five years. Nor did NJ DOE notice the violation of state regulations that require school trailers to have emergency exits until I complained, five years after a fire destroyed two trailers.

    In 2021, the state gave North Bergen $10 million on top of the $65 million that North Bergen voters approved in a special referendum in 2018 to purchase the unused former High Tech High School building, renovate classrooms, realign schools and move all the North Bergen preschoolers out of their illegal location in Braddock Park and into elementary schools, thereby achieving compliance with NJ DEP and NJ DOE regulations.

    After promising to remove the preschool from the park no later than Sept. 1, 2021, North Bergen reneged. This is not new; since 2011, NJ DEP has been telling North Bergen to remove the school from Braddock Park and each time North Bergen promised to do so and then reneged.

    The High Tech realignment plan is still viable, as is a 2013 North Bergen plan to build a preschool on the several acres of land that the North Bergen Board of Education owns on 64th Street. There are other viable sites for a preschool, but North Bergen prefers building more residences and shopping centers on them, while it refuses to use eminent domain to procure land for a preschool.

    Because there are viable alternative locations for the North Bergen Preschool, environmental regulations require that the preschool be removed from the park. Some $75 million is being misspent, the voters’ mandate and trust has been disregarded and children continue to attend school in antiquated, unsafe trailers.

    This deplorable situation is made even more deplorable because North Bergen is an environmental justice community, an impoverished school district that is 88% Hispanic and there isn’t a PTA/PTO to speak up for the rights of students and parents.

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