A Digest of Report of the Mayor's Advisory Board 
of Teaneck's School Building Program

March 1953

MEMBERS OF ADVISORY BOARD

Chris D. Sheffe, Chairman

A. Thornton Bishop

Fred P. Buschner

Richard Levis William C. Whitwell
John G. Crandall Rudolph A. Travers

The advisory Board on the School Program was appointed by the Mayor and Council.  The assignment of the Board was set forth in the Council's resolution, which said:

"...to make a full complete survey of Teaneck's Public School facilities, now available, as well as the present needs, and future needs for such facilities during the next five years, and during the next ten years, and report the result of their findings to the Township Council..."


The Problem

How to provide needed school facilities in time to meet the impact of the increased school population peak load without injuring the municipal credit needed to meet the Township's other obligations.

Summary of Findings

The absorption point in Teaneck's ultimate population is not too far distant. Only a few plots are available for new family units. It is estimated that Teaneck has reached 85% to 87 1/2% of its capacity population. The experience in other communities of census-taking for school building programs has been invariably on the side of over-estimating the future population. This has caused unwise expenditures. Built to meet specific peak growth, new facilities soon showed unused space once the community had fully developed. We feel that precautions should be taken against over-expansion, and that the Township's school facilities should be provided so that they can accommodate increases in any age group in the coming ten year period. In this way the facilities we recommend will offer the maximum in flexibility.

The Board of Education appointed its own Advisory Committees which, with the help of the various Parent-Teacher Associations, made a house-to-house canvass to determine actual and anticipated school enrollment.  Their study places the peak load in our school at 7,148 occurring in 1963.  From this high point the annual total enrollment recedes.  Because the present school population is approximately 6,150, the committees' report indicated that the Township must prepare for about 1,100 pupils.  Our studies show that the probable increase in school enrollment will be about 1,200. Provisions can be made to accommodate this increased enrollment within the present bonding capacity of the School Board, with some assistance from the Township.

The Board of Education's proposed building program is based on an estimate of 8,500 pupils during the next ten years. This represents an increase of 2,400 over the present enrollment and is 130 per cent greater than the estimate of the Board of Education's own Advisory Committees. It seems to us, therefore, that the proposed "single package" bond issue of $4,1.95,000 is based on a substantial over-estimate of future school population.

Taxes

The rise in Township taxes has been inevitable. Costs of municipal operations have jumped because of the rising salary scale of employees and the increase in services resulting from a growing population.

School costs, which represented over 50 per cent of each tax dollar, have increased at a faster rate than the costs of other branches of our local government. The bonded capacity of the Teaneck Board of Education for each year is based on 8 per cent of the average assessed valuation of taxable real property for the three previous years, less outstanding obligations. The balance of the municipal bond credit is based on 7 per cent of the average of the previous three years, less outstanding obligations.

Impact on Your Taxes of $4,195,000 Program

The new building program proposed by the Teacher board of Education would cost approximately $4,195,000.  The percentage of increase in the tax bill of each property owner would be 36 per cent as shown in the following tables:

Year

Tax Rate per $100 of Assessed Valuation

1951-1952 $6.22
1952-1953 6.73
1953-1954 7.31*
1954-1955 8.47*
*Estimated tax rate if School Board's program were adopted.

Translating the tax rate into dollars this would be the result:

IF TAXPAYER PAID HE WILL HAVE TO PAY PERCENT OF
1952-1952 1954-1955 INCREASE
$148.20 $201.80 36%
198.00 269.61 36%
247.50 337.02 36%
298.50 406.47 36%
352.10 479.45 36%
401.00 546.04 36%
450.75 613.18 36%
500.90 681.18 36%
600.00 816.02 36%
700.00 953.19 36%
800.00 1,089.36 36%

Junior High School

The study also reveals that the proposed Junior High School, drawing from the present junior-senior high school three full years of classes, would leave the present building with about 1100 students in a plant with a capacity approaching 2500. Further, the expected growth of the 10th, 11th and 12th school year enrollment would rise to an approximate total of 1750 at the peak. Consequently, parts of the present building would always be vacant or have space which would have to be used for secondary considerations.

This observation caused us to review the merits of the six-year elementary, three-year junior high school, and three-year senior high school system.

Instituted in some school systems to accommodate a growth in enrollment that was taxing both high school and elementary school facilities, the junior high school idea has only been adopted in about one-third of the school systems in the United States during the past 50 years.

The $4,195,000 building program proposed by the Board of Education calls for the erection of a new 1,800 student capacity junior high school. There are certain factors unfavorable in this proposal to the school building program, the safety and welfare of the children, and the general interests of the taxpayer. These factors are:

(a) Concentration of the majority of the new facilities in one building to serve only three grades of students.

(b) It would continue the necessity of  young children, leaving the 6th grade classes near their homes, to travel long distances in many instances, an increasing hazard as traffic conditions in the Township become more intensified.

(c) It would fail to provide for the fluctuation of enrollments in age groups at the elementary grade levels. A sudden rise in any 1st to 6th grade enrollments could not be relieved by space available in one central building remotely located.

(d) Waste space would be created in the present high school building.

(e) The credit of the Township would be strained by exceeding the legal debt limit.

Were the Teaneck school system to establish the K-8-4 plan (Kindergarten, eight years of elementary and four years of high school), it would leave the 9th year in the high school and permit ultimate growth to approximately 2,400 students in a building of 2,500 capacity. However, this would make necessary the distributing of approximately 1,200 students in the 7th and 8th grades in new facilities provided as additions to the elementary school buildings.

If these 7th and 8th grades were "centered" in the four quarters of the Township, divided as it is by Route 4 and the West Shore Railroad, the following purposes would be served:

(a) Children in the 7th and 8th grades would remain in their respective residential areas for two years more than at present, although in the case of three schools, they would not take their 7th and 8th grade work in the same building where they remained from kindergarten through the 6th grade. Few children, if any, would be obliged to cross either Route 4 or the railroad prior to their 9th grade year.

(b) Many 7th and 8th grade children would be able to go home for lunch and benefit from the healthy break between sessions.

(c) By having one adjustment between the 8th grade and the high school rather than two adjustments -- from 6th grade and junior high and from junior high to senior high-the transition would be accomplished at a later age easing social difficulties. 

(d) Students now attending parochial schools, which generally offer a study program from the kindergarten through the 8th grade level, would be able to make the adjustment along with the balance of the Township children. At present they enter now in the midst of the Junior High School program long after their new associates have formed a pattern in class activities.

(e) The County Vocational High School in Hackensack is a 4-year course, and the logical time to enter it is at the adjustment period following the 8th grade.

(f) Elementary grade school construction costs less than the type of building proposed for junior high school use exclusively. Provision can be made without great cost to equip two rooms in each of the 7th and 8th grade "centers" to serve, one as a Homemaking Center, the other for manual training with light, portable machinery.

(g) No additional land need be purchased or provided for the adoption of the Advisory Board's recommendations.

(h) Distribution of classroom facilities adaptable to any elementary grade group furnishes the maximum in flexibility.

(i) The Advisory Board's recommendations can meet not only the increase of school population in September 1953, but can provide for the estimated peak load in all school grades, and at a cost of approximately $1,500,000, spread over two years, as compared with the proposal for the immediate expenditure of $4,195,000.

BUILDING WITH WHAT WILL BE AVAILABLE

The anticipated bonding capacity of the Board of Education, augmented by some of the Township's borrowing capacity, is sufficient to erect enough classrooms to accommodate the increased school population, if the work is scheduled in two stages instead of being concentrated in a single effort as proposed.

Allowing for 30 pupils per classroom, the Board of Education can construct, at the present time, 29 rooms at $35,000 a room, offering facilities to 870. In 1954, there will be additional funds sufficient to erect another 9 rooms. Each year following, the bonding capacity will be sufficiently sustained to permit the erection of 7 classrooms annually. However, with aid from the Township, the facilities needed can be provided in the second stage.

Objectives

The Mayor's Advisory Board was guided by these objectives:

(a) To survey Teaneck's public school facilities now available.

(b) To determine present needs. 

(c) To estimate future needs.

(d) To suggest how to provide needed facilities as soon as possible to meet the increase enrollments expected this coming September (1953).

(e) To assure continuance of the present high standards of education in the Township schools.

(f) To avoid part-time sessions.

(g) To effect a separation of students of junior high and senior high school ages.

(h) To avoid exceeding the Township debt limit.

(i) To recommend the most effective and economical method of using present and contemplated school buildings.

Recommendations

1. Provision be made to reduce the number of grades in the High School to include only 9th, 10th, 11th and 12th.

2. Provide facilities to accommodate the 7th and 8th grades in additions to four elementary schools, namely Schools 4, 5, 6, and 7, to which the students of the 7th and 8th grades from Schools 1, 2 and 3 will also be sent upon completion of their 6th year.

3. Make arrangements to accommodate the 188 6th grade students being advanced in Schools 3, 4 and 7 this coming September.

4. Proceed with the building of 12 room additions on both Schools 5 and 6, so that those facilities will be ready for occupancy in September 1954.

5. In September 1954, direct the 7th grades from School 1 and 5, together with students of School 2 living south of Route 4 to new facilities in School 5. It would be desirable to allow the former 7th grades at the high school to continue in that building in their 8th grade. Retain the 7th grades of School 6 in the new facilities there, and direct the 7th grade students of School 2, living north of Route 4, to these facilities in School 6.

6. In September 1954 proceed with the erection of eight rooms at School 4 and 10 rooms at School 7 to be ready for occupancy by September 1955.

Cost of Recommendations

1. This recommendation calls for the building of 24 rooms in 1953-54 to be divided equally between Schools 5 and 6 and costing approximately $840,000, providing a balance to be carried over into the next year of $175,- 000; A unit cost of $35,000 a room is assumed.

2. As the second stage of the program, to be begun September 1954, eight rooms can be built at School 4, where the most precipitant increase in enrollment in grades 1 to 8 can be expected, and ten rooms at School 7, a total of 18 rooms for approximately $630,000.

3. To accomplish this the $175,000 carry over will be augmented by the $319,000 made available in the increased bonding capacity, a total of $494,000.

4. The effectiveness of these recommendations are based on the possibility of meeting the impact of the increased school population with facilities effectively distributed and obtainable for a cost of less that one-half the proposed program involving two new schools and, in addition, an enlargement to one existing structure.

5. That this may be accomplished, we recommend that the unused bonding capacity of the Township, available for municipal operations and improvements, be extended to the Board of Education in the sum of $150,000.

6. With this moderate aid from the municipality the amount will provide the balance needed to erect a total of 42 classrooms within a two year period.

7. These recommendations, if .adopted, will provide 7th and 8th grade facilities in each of the four quarters of the Township. These centers, including the facilities for kindergarten classes and grades 1 to 8 will, when completed, be as follows:

 

ROOMS

  Available Addition Totals
School #6 - Bryant (Tryon Ave.) 15 12 27
School #5 - Hawthorne (Fycke Lane) 13 12 25
School #4 - Whittier (W. Englewood Ave. 19 8 27
School #7 - Lowell (Lincoln Place 14 10 24
TOTALS 61 42 103

 

 

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