Despite months of back-and-forth discussion regarding the future of Jersey City’s A. Harry Moore Laboratory School, located at 2078 JFK Blvd. opposite New Jersey City University, a long-term solution to the school’s shuttering remains up in the air.
During the Board Of Education’s meeting November 1, A. Harry Moore School was discussed with parents, teachers, and administrators giving their opinions regarding the Jersey City school whose entire operation was recently relocated to Regional Day School after its ceiling partially collapsed in September.
“We are, right now, in a very challenging setting,” Patricia Holzman, teacher at A. Harry Moore school said, referring to the lack of space for their student population at Regional Day School.
“We want to go home,” pleaded A. Harry Moore’s principal, Steven Goldberg, to the BOE.
The A. Harry Moore Laboratory School has been a learning institute for children and adults with physical disabilities ages 3 through 21 since 1931. The school offers an “employment opportunities workshop” an “adapted” physical education program, and a preschool while also offering physical, occupational, speech, and music therapies. Although operated under the College of Education of New Jersey City University, it is funded by the board of education.
In early September, A. Harry Moore’s roof partially collapsed, but before repairs could begin, further inspections deemed the whole building unsafe for students to return, leaving the school’s future uncertain. Board President Sudhan Thomas stated the school will remain under the Regional Day School until a better solution comes along, declaring they are searching for a fully utilized space for the school to accommodate staff, students, and the equipment the school will require.
Thomas had disclosed four possible options for the future of the school: refurbishing the entire facility, which may cost up to $25 million and take about five years to complete, purchasing a new building altogether, keeping the program at Regional Day School, or renting a space within New Jersey City University.
“We have collectively, with NJCU, decided that that program will continue at Regional Day School for the interim until we find a proper solution,” he added.
In recent months, there was some speculation regarding NJCU’s discontinuing the program and the Jersey City Public School district’s taking over. Superintendent Franklin Walker addressed this rumor at the BOE meeting. “It’s never been our intention to take over the A. Harry Moore program,” he said. “It’s A. Harry Moore Laboratory School that’s been sponsored by New Jersey City University as a part of their college education program.” Walker went on to say they are still viewed as district students and will be provided for.
Both Goldberg and Holzman explained why providing adequate space is of the utmost importance for these students. “This is not only an academic and therapeutic setting for many of these medically fragile students; this is their lives.”
Thomas addressed the situation by announcing the BOE will be creating an ad hoc committee following the board meeting, which will consist of two board members, a couple of A. Harry Moore parents, and appointees from the board and NJCU’s side and that will meet monthly to devise a solution for the school’s permanent — or possibly temporary — location.
Regional Day School is located almost two miles away from the original site of A. Harry Moore School and is home to about 100 students of its own.
Goldberg urged the board to understand the urgency of the situation, explaining the students thrive in this program. “That’s what happens at A. Harry Moore. They live.”