ROSELLE, N.J. — Regular preschoolers were to finally begin attending classes this week, more than a month later than the rest of the district, after the school board approved using space at the Redeemed Christian Church of God Agape House, located at 239 First Ave.
The decision to use the 9,500 square feet of church space came at a special meeting on Thursday, Oct. 3, with classes set to begin five days later.
“We’ve been delayed for the last month, month and a half, to have access to a facility for the preschool program,” Interim Superintendent James Baker said.
Officials said the church was a temporary solution but gave no definitive date as to when a more permanent space would be found. Roselle had expressed its intent to use space in a building located at 1305 St. Georges Ave. which also is occupied by the Shim Academy of Montessori. However, “SIG Global Corporation has failed to make necessary improvements” to the property, according to the resolution that adopted the church as the temporary new home for the preschool program, which charges tuition.
Roselle Public Schools Business Administrator Anthony Juskiewicz said at the meeting that there would be no cost difference between using the church and St. Georges Avenue location.
Special education pre-kindergarten students, who had been attending classes in district since the start of the school year at Leonard V. Moore Middle School, were also slated to move to the church facility.
Of the board members present, all but Angela Alvey-Wimbush, voted to accept the use of the church property. She said that since she had not seen the facility, she wasn’t sure if it was suitable.
“You want to lease Agape. And the question at hand is, I didn’t go to Agape to see what it looks like. If you want a vote from me, I need to know what I am voting for,” she said. “I’ve also mentioned in the past there is a preschool expansion program, and they’ve got expansion programs statewide.
“It is a partnership between the district and other pre-K schools that are in the Roselle school district. …There are many other preschool programs that we could have looked into, but now we are looking into a church that I have not even seen.”
Residents who spoke during the public comments session of the meeting said they want to see long-term solutions for the educational facilities in Roselle.
Former board member Anthony Esposito said the district needs a capital program to improve the quality of its school system.
“The only way the Roselle school district can cure its problem is that this school district needs to put up a bond referendum,” he said. “You have to figure out what we need and how much money it’s going to take.”
Another resident stated that, while she is fine with preschool students being in the church temporarily, she would like for the board to look into building a new preschool space.
In an Oct. 7 phone interview with LocalSource, Juskiewicz said, “The board will be looking at long-term solutions such as a new building, and may require a referendum to get to that point. All options will be considered.”
Resident Sylvia Turnage, who identified herself as a grandmother of children in Roselle schools, asked about several items not included in the formal resolution, such as the cost and reasons why 1305 St. Georges Ave. was not usable. She said she had heard the sprinkler system was not in working order.
“What I’d like to know is if we’re going to have a resolution to vote on something?” Turnage asked. “How long is it going to take to go into the building and how much is it costing us? I don’t see anything on here about a price. I’m tired of people in this district just going through the motions,” she added. “Our children are being disenfranchised. Our special education children are being disenfranchised.”