When the Orange Education Foundation announced plans last year to purchase the former Marylawn school and turn it into a STEM high school for Orange public school students, many residents in South Orange and Maplewood were perplexed.
Why would a school district buy a building in another (albeit adjacent) municipality? And why didn’t the South Orange-Maplewood School District purchase the building?
The answer to the first question seems to be that the City of Orange Board of Education was in search of a turnkey space which it could quickly open and operate in order to keep on track with its new Strategic Plan; Marylawn in South Orange answered this need since the building, a former school, is apparently in need of few upgrades and is within walking distance of Orange.
Regarding the second question, the South Orange-Maplewood School District may have played its hand well in a time of fiscal constraint: South Orange-Maplewood Superintendent of Schools Dr. John Ramos says that the Orange superintendent is offering as many as 50 spaces in the school to SOMSD students — at no cost to students’ families or the SOMSD.
“We have been promised up to 50 seats in the new school once it is prepared to open,” said Ramos in an email.
“No cost to district or our attending students,” he added, and later elaborated: “The arrangement is actually the result of a proposal from the Orange superintendent who thought it appropriate to offer these seats since the program will be located in SOMSD. This represents a terrific opportunity for our students.”
But the deal has not been signed, sealed and delivered as yet:
“The preliminary discussion has been that our students will be able to attend at no cost – that is the understanding. A memorandum of understanding has not yet been formally developed,” Ramos told Village Green.
The Orange Education Foundation is purchasing the property and leasing it to the Orange Board of Education.
The proposal calls for an interim use in spring 2017 for about 55 gifted and talented 7th and 8th graders. In September 2017, the STEM high school would open, serving 100-125 students initially. That number could grow to between 200 and 250 students over time, representatives for Orange Education Foundation told the South Orange Planning Board last week.
Read the full report on the Orange Education Foundation’s presentation to the South Orange Planning Board here: