Planning Board reviews trailers at Franklin School

The installation of temporary classroom units at Franklin School in Summit has required a planning board hearing.

By Paul Greulich, Staff Writer

SUMMIT — Overcrowding at Franklin Elementary School has necessitated the installation of temporary classroom units, or TCUs, which are expected to be installed sometime this fall.

One TCU would serve as a music classroom and one would be an art classroom. At present the school does not have dedicated art and music classrooms. Music classes have been held in the cafeteria.

“We’re looking forward to providing adequate space for the education of the kids,” said Nathan Parker, the district superintendent.
The units will be placed on the side of the school facing Warwick Road, adjacent to the blacktop. Parker said each unit holds up to 24 kids. The units will have heat and air conditioning.

Parker said he did not have the cost of the project at hand. There is no set date for installation, but Parker anticipates the units will be in place “before Thanksgiving.”

He also said there is no timeline for how long the TCUs will be there.

“It’s to provide housing until the district can come up with another option,” Parker said.

A long-term solution to the space problem at Franklin School has not been identified, according the the district superintendent.

Board of Education President George Lucaci did not return repeated calls for comment.

An application for the TCU installation is currently before the Summit Planning Board. The board anticipates hearing the application at its Sept. 24 meeting. However, board members discussed the project briefly at their Monday meeting.

Mayor Ellen Dickson said she understands the Board of Education does not yet have authorization from the state DOE to move ahead.

“Part of the problem is they don’t have state approval yet. They will have it in place hopefully in November,” Dickson said.
Board members said the temporary units will be in place for at least a year, possibly two. Board member Gary Lewis said that since the units will be in place for so long, the Planning Board should definitely review the matter in detail.

“I think it’s really worth the board’s time to make sure there isn’t undue impact on the surrounding community,” Lewis said.

Some other board members agreed. Board member F. Clifford Gibbons said the Planning Board has occasionally made suggestions regarding Board of Education projects.

“We are allowed to make comments and recommendations, some of which, over the years, have borne fruit,” Gibbons said.