North Bergen officials held a press conference inside the High Tech High School this morning to announce that the facility will be converted into a new high school for the township in the next few years.
State Senator (D-32)/North Bergen Mayor Nick Sacco, also the school district’s director of secondary and elementary education, explained that building a new high school from scratch would cost at least $150 million at the taxpayers’ expense since the school district does not have Abbott status.
However, since High Tech High School has broken ground on a new location in Secaucus, North Bergen received a lucky twist of fate.
“The high school was overcrowded: our current high school was built for 1,800 people, it’s been retrofitted for 2100, it holds 2100 now. But we’ve had enrollments as high as 2,700 and right now it’s about 2,500,” explained Sacco, noting that split schedules have been the only possible solution to the problem.
Calling high tech’s new Secaucus facility “the greatest break in the world,” Sacco said that officials opted not to make 2000 85th Street part of a shopping mall since it would be better suited as the new North Bergen High School.
Sacco also said he would be retiring from the schools by the end of the scholastic year, which he could do proudly now that the overcrowding at the high school was being resolved.
Hudson County Executive Tom DeGise, a retired Jersey City school teacher, said new facilities for North Bergen and High Tech students is a win across the board for local education.
Hudson County Schools of Technology Superintendent Frank Gargiulo, also a North Bergen commissioner, had mixed emotions about leaving the 85th Street facility.
“I couldn’t be happier that North Bergen’s taking the facility, because I feel like I’m not really leaving. So on behalf of myself and my staff down here, we’re happy to be going to a new facility, we’re not so happy about leaving this one: it was a great place for us to be,” Gargiulo said.
North Bergen Superintendent of Schools Dr. George Solter, a former vice principal at the high school, said this new facility will “allow us to be solid with our educational program.”
Solter also revealed that the High Tech facility will be the new home for 10th, 11th and 12th graders, while the current high school, located at 7317 John F. Kennedy Boulevard, will be fore 7th, 8th and 9th grade students.
Currently, 7th and 8th graders in North Bergen are being taught in their local elementary schools.
During a short question and answer session with the media, Solter said that he is unsure how much the project will cost, given that the transition will not be ready until the 2019-2020 school year.
He added that part of the plan is to eventually find a new home for the pre-school facilities, located within James J. Braddock Park.