NJCU-run Jersey City special needs school plans to expand facility 50% by end of 2019

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A special needs school run by the New Jersey City University, in conjunction with the local board of education, plans to expand their current building by 50 percent by the end of the year.

Photo courtesy of the Jersey City Board of Education.

By John Heinis/Hudson County View

“At the behest of President Henderson, I have been asked to lead the NJCU efforts to ensure that the A. Harry Moore students’ needs remain a priority for all,” Associate Professor and Director of the Institute for Collaborative Education at NJCU Roger Harris said in a statement.

“I am excited at the opportunity to work collaboratively with Jersey City School Board President Thomas, Jersey City School District Interim Superintendent Walker, and the A. Harry Moore administration and staff to develop both a short- and long-term solution to the present facility and programmatic issues at hand.”

The physical space and capacity at the Regional Day School where the A. Harry Moore program is currently being housed will be augmented by approximately 50 percent to ensure the availability of floor space for the program, officials said.

The increase in capacity is expected to be in place by the end of the calendar year. The A. Harry Moore School facility will be utilized solely for the kitchen area for food preparation.

Last month, officials announced that students at A. Harry Moore School will be temporarily relocated to the Gerard J. Dynes Regional Day School (a state school facility), located at 425 Johnston Ave., which is 1.8 miles from the A. Harry Moore School.

This news came shortly after NJCU backed off on their decision to close the school next year following a partial roof collapse.

Additionally, a report prepared by the NJCU facilities team three years ago estimated the cost of repairing the A. Harry More building at $16 million.

The civil engineering firm retained by the Jersey City BOE is currently inspecting all aspects of the building to review the space for safety and security in light of the recent damage to the building due to the collapse of the building’s portico.

These reports will be made available to board members during the regularly scheduled November board meeting and NJCU will also receive a copy of the reports at this time.

“We are pleased at the progress that has been made to date, and are encouraged by the team effort to provide continuity of education and care for the A. Harry Moore students,” NJCU President Sue Henderson added.

Furthermore, in cooperation with the Jersey City BOE and other outside special education agencies, NJCU will review the complete education/support program available to the 86 students and will identify any gaps regarding best practices to arrive at a list of additional resources or services to better support the A. Harry Moore program.

The currently approved JCBOE audit of the Special Education Department will be enhanced in scope to include the A. Harry Moore program.

In that vein, a committee comprised of Jersey City BOE and NJCU representatives and a group of four parents from the A. Harry Moore student community will be established by the end of October to serve as a mechanism for community engagement.

“The main focus in all of this is the best interests of the A. Harry Moore children and the wishes of the parents community. We are confident that this broad framework will help ensure our children are cared for in the best facilities and supported by the best program,” noted Board President Sudhan Thomas.

“We will work to impart confidence all around targeting a long- term agreement with NJCU. This is a strong example of our transformative leadership and work at the JCBOE in partnership with external agencies, elected leadership and NJCU.”

JCBOE Superintendent Walker noted, “We are pleased with the direction of this process and hope to optimize the student experience at A. Harry Moore through effective communication and collaboration.”