Thursday, September 8, 2016

New Phillipsburg Palace Opens, 100% State Funded

The new state-funded $127.5 million Phillipsburg High School is opening and it's a palace of a high school.
Even the Nurse's Suite is Beautiful

The building boasts a three-story academic wing, 50 general classrooms, six special education classrooms, 12 small group instruction rooms, three health classrooms, 12 science-related classrooms, three business labs, three computer labs and media center.
Off the 1,000-seat auditorium are the vocal and instrumental music rooms, offering ease of access to the stage. The food court-style cafeteria seats 700 and offers a patio for senior privilege, like the courtyard in the old high school, now revamped as Phillipsburg Middle School. 
The gleaming new successor to The Pit at the old school is a 2,400-seat gym that can be partitioned into five teaching stations for physical education. There's also an 8,900-square-foot auxiliary gym and a fitness center outfitted with gear supporting the "Fit for Life" curriculum, which introduces each freshman to exercise as a lifelong lifestyle.
Four athletic team rooms will be used in rotation for seasonal sports, and are in addition to separate male and female athletic trainer rooms. 
There is a greenhouse attached to the building for agriculture and horticulture classes. An
The Chorus Room
Industrial Technology wing houses computer-aided design and drafting, materials and energy transportation. A TV/radio studio supports the school's media communications curriculum....
The food lab offers gas and electric ranges and ovens, and the pottery/ceramics room has two kilns and one glazing room, all powered by electricity.
Classroom technology also includes computer-linked smart-boards and built-in sound systems to amplify the voices of teachers and students alike so no one misses a thing. 
"This facility, it's a cliche but it certainly applies here, when you say state-of-the-art facility," Phillipsburg schools Superintendent George Chando said during Wednesday's tour. "This is evidence of what a state-of-the-art facility looks like as far as a new high school."
Phillipsburg is only 31% FRL eligible, but at-risk students are going to have their own space too.

For at-risk students, the state-funded School-Based Youth Services Program is housed in a room offering pool tables, ping pong and foosball. Carrying the latest in Stateliner gear, the school store is one of the first things visitors will see after entering through the community entrance for events in the auditorium, cafeteria or gymnasium. That is also the way in to the nurse's office, just past security.

Oh no, the at-risk kids in my town don't have any pool tables, ping pong, foosball.

Laura Waters of NJLeftBehind also wrote about Phillipsburg's new high school.

In her excellent piece she compared Phillipsburg to Belleville, a non-Abbott.

At Phillipsburg High School, for example, 31% of students are eligible for free and reduced lunch, well below other non-Abbott districts that don’t have the fiscal advantages of Abbotts, like state-funded school buildings. For example, at Belleville High School located in a non-Abbott Essex County district, 53.5% of students qualify for free and reduced lunch. 
In Phillipsburg, the average property tax bill is $4,130 because the state picks up so much of the cost of local education. In far poorer Belleville (with slightly lower enrollment), the average property tax bill is $8,585. (See Jeff Bennett for a thorough drill-down, including disparities between Abbotts and poor non-Abbotts for a category called “fair share.”) The state contributes $37,683,171 to Phillipsburg and $26,503,551 to Belleville. Residents of Phillipsburg also get free pre-school, one of the Abbott requirements that N.J. maintains even in rapidly-gentrifying districts like Jersey City and Hoboken. 
And here’s the killer: Phillipsburg is able to spend $16,847 per pupil. In Belleville it's a paltry $11,528
There will be no greenhouses, TV studios, or free pre-school in the far-needier school district of Belleville

From the Unuseable
Section of one of
Belleville's Schools.
Indeed, and Belleville needs $60-$80 million in repairs.  Belleville isn't talking about building a new school, just repairs.

Belleville's facilities problems are difficult to even read about.  There is an elementary school from 1924 whose third floor is totally unuseable.  The middle school is from 1914.  Several of Belleville's schools even lack elevators, making them badly non-compliant with the ADA.  One of Belleville's schools has permanent construction scaffolding up at the entrance so that children aren't hit by falling masonry.

And due to the state's massive overinvestment in the Abbotts and the Education Law Center's attitude that NJ has bottomless wealth, Belleville doesn't stand a chance of getting more than a few million in desperately needed help.

The new Phillipsburg High School is technically only 98.5% state funded because, against the protests of local officials, the state said that localities had to pay for sidewalks and a traffic light since those were not part of the school itself.

Finally, technically Phillipsburg's new high school isn't 100% state-funded since Phillipsburg was made to pay for a traffic light and sidewalks at the driveway of the school.
Despite getting a free $127.5  million high school, Phillipsburg Town Council President Todd Tersigni whined about the cost of the traffic light:

"I would really hope the state of New Jersey would help out in this, because it's all about the kids. It's
Phillipsburg got a 100% State Funded, $127.5
Million High School, but Phillipsburg TC President
Todd Tersigni Thinks It's Unjust That Phillipsburg
Pays for a Traffic Light
all about what's good for the kids.  Whatever it takes."

Todd Tersigni's moral universe obviously ends at Phillipsburg.  He has no idea how privileged in state aid Phillipsburg is or else he evidently thinks kids in poor non-Abbotts should just sprint through traffic to decrepit schools.  

Phillipsburg isn't a typical Abbott.  It's very white and is less than 50% FRL-eligible overall.

However, in the pure selfishness, greed, and blindness to its own privilege, Phillipsburg is very typical indeed.  


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